Lancashire Police fined after document found in street

Lancashire Constabulary has been fined £70,000 after papers with sensitive information about a 15-year-old girl were found on a street in Blackpool.

The Information Commissioner's Office (ICO) said it was the first penalty it has served to a police force.

The ICO said the information was contained in a missing person's report which was discovered by a member of the public on 23 July last year.

The police force said it would "learn lessons from this unfortunate event".

The report had previously been used by an officer trying to locate the missing girl and is thought to have been left in a police vehicle for several days.

It is then believed the report fell out of the car, when it was used by a different officer.

It was handed in to a local newspaper.

'Extremely worrying'

The ICO's investigation found that the constabulary did not record when sensitive personal information was taken outside the police station and that officers had no specific training on how to look after hard copy documents outside the station.

Steve Eckersley, head of enforcement at the ICO, said: "The fact that information as sensitive as this could go missing without anybody realising is extremely worrying.

"The loss of this information and the news that it had been leaked to a local newspaper is likely to have been extremely distressing for all involved.

"While we are pleased that Lancashire Constabulary has agreed to take action to make sure people's information is safe, it is vitally important that police forces have effective data protection policies in place."

Deputy Chief Constable Chris Weigh said: "The loss of any personal data, particularly sensitive information, is extremely serious and is rightly a cause for concern and we will learn lessons from this unfortunate event and do all we can to make sure that the risk of this happening again is as low as it can be.

"Both officers involved were embarrassed at the consequences of their actions and dismayed at the potential upset that might have been caused to the parties involved.

"The constabulary was quick to respond once the mistake had been identified and both officers received management action."

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