Police data name snag
| Police disclose personal information – and fail to notify the ICO.
Police who exposed a firefighter who had alerted them to his boss’s dodgy car deal, have apologised for making the “genuine mistake” of handing the whistle-blower’s name to his employer – but have not reported themselves to the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO).
Long-serving firefighter Tom Oakes contacted the police to flag up a deal in which Gloucestershire’s then chief fire officer Stewart Edgar bought himself a former fire service-owned Land Rover Discovery for just £500.
Mr Edgar resigned from Gloucestershire Fire & Rescue Service (GFRS) last year after an internal county council investigation found he have overseen a tendering process in which the service vehicle, worth around £8,000 was massively undersold. He then bought it from the purchaser for himself.
Mr Oakes told the Eye he has no idea which of his colleagues alerted the council to the deal in the first place. As is right and proper. After the fire chief resigned in July 2018, and the deal itself became public knowledge, Mr Oakes contact the police to make a confidential criminal complaint.
A month later, Gloucestershire Constabulary got back in touch for having accidentally including his name when raising the issue with two staff members at GFRS. Ironically the police then insisted they couldn’t tell him which of his colleagues now knew he was the one who had made the complaint, without their permission.
This put Mr Oakes in the stressful position of knowing that there were unidentified people in his HQ who knew he’d gone to the police, leaving him open to the kind of victimisation often meted out to workforce whistle-blowers (Eyes passim). In fact, nothing of that sort has happened.
Gloucestershire Police said the “inadvertent disclosure” was:
a genuine mistake was made with the best intentions in order to try and investigate the allegation.
However, they have not reported themselves to the ICO as is good practice for public bodies that make a major data protection mistake. Mr Oakes says he has now notified the ICO himself.
The police file on the car deal was passed to the Crown Prosecution Service in February.
Source: Private Eye