KENT Police was fined £80,000 yesterday after passing on sensitive personal information of a woman accusing her police officer partner of domestic violence to the suspect himself.
According to the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO), Kent Police had “inappropriate security measures” and committed a “serious breach of the law” when it handed the contents of the victim’s mobile phone to her alleged abuser’s solicitor.
The partner was later given access to the information.
“Kent Police was investigating a serious matter, yet the need to take proper care of the personal details they were entrusted with does not appear to have been taken seriously,” said ICO head of enforcement Stephen Eckersley.
“Today’s fine should serve as a warning to other forces that it is vital they have robust measures in place to protect individuals’ personal data and guard against such inappropriate disclosures.”
The woman suffered “substantial distress” after the leak, the ICO added.
The case was made public on the same day that the government was forced to make legal aid once again accessible to victims of domestic violence.
The Court of Appeal declared existing rules legally flawed and complainants will be able to apply for the subsidy with evidence dated up to five years before the claim.
Action group Rights of Women had campaigned for the law to be changed so victims would not be forced to “face their abuser in court” without legal representation.
In a ministerial statement, Justice Minister Shailesh Vara said the government was consulting domestic violence support groups to review the court’s findings.
The changes will come into force on Monday April 25 “in order to make sure that victims of domestic violence can receive the support they need as soon as possible,” he added.