Sussex Police emails put teenage girl 'at greater risk'

A teenage girl was put "at greater risk" by a police force which told a business forum she was vulnerable to sexual exploitation, a judge has ruled.

Sussex Police gave details about the 16-year-old to a forum of more than 500 retailers, security firms and pubs as part of an initiative to tackle crime.

High Court judge Mrs Justice Lieven ruled the girl's rights had been breached under the Data Protection Act.

Sussex Police denied the details it shared identified her as being at risk.

The court heard the force had shared two emails, much of the context of which related to the girl's criminal activity, with a local Business Crime Reduction Partnership (BCRP).

The judge said that in putting the two emails together, it was "plain" the force gave the BCRP information about her being vulnerable and at risk of sexual exploitation.

'Limited benefit'

She said: "It is easy to see why this was of considerable concern, particularly to the local authority, given that there is a very obvious risk that by sharing this information the police were exposing her to greater risk."

The judge said any benefit in sharing this information "might be limited".

She added that there was no evidence that the force "properly weighed up the impact" of sharing the information, or "whether there were sufficient safeguards to ensure against onward transmission".

"In particular, there is no evidence that the defendant addressed its mind to the particular importance of not sharing information of this nature about a child."

Mrs Justice Lieven said the teenager was excluded from local business premises after being reported for a number of incidents of violence, theft or anti-social behaviour.

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