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Checking out women "for sexual purposes" was just one of the ways Welsh police have breached people's data protection rights.

Having all that knowledge at their fingertips proved too much for some in Wales' four police forces, leading to 85 recorded breaches since 2006, the BBC found out in a Freedom of Information request.

Apart from looking up prospective girlfriends on police records, the cops couldn't resist prying into the lives of possible housing tenants for anything they should worry about, as well as going through family members' information and even passing on some data to third parties.

Two offenders have been sacked as a result of these breaches and one has resigned.

South Wales Police said its professional standards unit knew of 26 incidents in the last five years, as cops delved into data held on children, associates and other people for personal reasons, including friends of their daughters.

Dyfed-Powys Police didn't have any records for 2006, 2007 or 2010, but said one worker was dismissed in 2008 over data breaches and another was given a written warning for making checks for personal gain.

One other official was given advice after he put sensitive information in a personal email - presumably: "Don't put other people's information in a personal email if you don't want the sack," or alternatively, "Don't use your personal email for confidential work stuff, ya div."

Then in 2009, another cop got the sack while a staff member resigned over breaches.

North Wales Police said 45 people had gained access to information for reasons other than police work and information had been disclosed three times.

Gwent Police was the only Welsh force to have no breaches, or at least as far as it knew anyway. ®

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