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Lancs plods exposed complainant on website

Left details up for days after being informed

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Lancashire Police Authority breached the Data Protection Act by publishing the details of a complaint from an individual member of the public on its website, the Information Commissioner's Office (ICO) has revealed.

The force published the information accidentally, and then failed to remove it after the individual concerned made it aware of the problem. It was only four days later that Lancashire police removed the information.

The details were contained in two documents, marked as restricted, which the force failed to edit adequately before they went online.

Lancashire police has now been ordered by the ICO to make sure that any information due for release on its website is checked and correctly edited before it is made available.

It has also agreed to introduce a new policy for staff which explains the actions they must take when they are informed of a possible data breach.

Simon Entwisle, director of operations at the ICO, said: "While it is important that public authorities are transparent about the work they do by publishing information online, this should never be at the expense of an individual's rights to privacy. There can be no excuse for publishing someone's personal information online, and the fact that the authority failed to remove it when told makes this case all the more concerning.

"We are pleased that Lancashire Police Authority will now make sure any documents due for release are properly checked by suitably trained staff. This case should act as a warning to all public authorities that information security must be seen as a priority across the organisation."

This article was originally published at Guardian Government Computing.

Guardian Government Computing is a business division of Guardian Professional, and covers the latest news and analysis of public sector technology. For updates on public sector IT, join the Government Computing Network here.

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