FOI Act reveals Merseyside Police breach Data Protection Laws

A report published recently in the Daily Telegraph has given details of over 100 cases of data breaches by police officers relating to a high profile prosecution case against Liverpool and England International footballer Steven Gerrard.

In 2009 Gerrard was tried and subsequently cleared of any misdemeanour relating to an altercation between himself and Marcus McGee. The incident which occurred in the Lounge Inn, Southport, saw Gerrard accused of affray, with Gerrard claiming he acted purely in self defence when he hit McGee in December 2008.

The case generated such interest within Merseyside Police that officers and staff, with no involvement in the case, breached data protection laws by accessing Gerrards file. Following an audit by Merseyside’s professional standards directorate, 130 officers have been cited as being involved in the data breach, with the file containing information such as Gerrards Date of Birth, address, the allegations against him and the photograph of him taken upon his arrest.

The Freedom of Information act reveals a significant rise in the same types of breach at Merseyside police when compared to the 2008 statistics. In 2008 there were 42 breaches, this rose to 152 in 2009 – the year of Gerrard’s case. However the breaches do not only pertain solely to the footballer’s arrest, other breaches included officers accessing classified data on relatives, friends and acquaintances. Merseyside Police regard the illegal accessing of information as a very serious act which has lead to some officers being force d to resign, others receiving written warnings and final written warnings about their behaviour.

A spokeswoman for Merseyside Police force states “Merseyside Police takes its responsibilities to manage and process personal information extremely seriously and expects employees to maintain the highest standard of professional behaviour when dealing with information security. Any inappropriate behaviour may result in criminal and/or disciplinary proceedings and all cases are investigated thoroughly by the Professional Standards Department”.

The report says that these breaches are common across Britain with the Lancashire Force experiencing a total of 84 breaches over a three year period. This included one officer running checks on his daughter’s boyfriend to expose the man’s criminal record for sex offences.


Our Customers

  • ATOS
  • Age UK
  • Alliance Pharma
  • Liverpool Football Club
  • CSC
  • Centrica
  • Citizens Advice
  • City of London
  • Fujitsu
  • Government Offices
  • HCL
  • LK Bennett
  • Lambretta Clothing
  • Leicester City
  • Lloyds Register
  • Logica
  • Meadowvale
  • National Farmers Union
  • Network Rail
  • PKR

Sales question? Need support? Start a chat session with one of our experts!

For support, call the 24-hour hotline:

UK: 0800 999 3600
US: 800-220-7013

Or, if you've been given a screen sharing code:

Existing customer?

Click below to login to our secure enterprise Portal and view the real-time status of your data protection.

Login to Portal