Solicitors, the police, and the wider criminal justice system have access to some of our most sensitive information. As such, strict policies and procedures must be in place to ensure the safe processing of such data. But all too often, this is not happening.
This is especially worrying as many in the sector use paper files which are not secured by encryption. What’s more, legal professionals often carry around large quantities of information (e.g. when going to court or to work on at home). This can increase the risk of a data breach.
There are many different types of legal, police and criminal justice data breaches to watch out for, including:
The Police. Officers, police staff, and suppliers must know how to work with sensitive information securely. However, this is not happening too often, and in 2020, there were over 2300 data breach incidents reported by just 22 of the UK’s police forces.
Legal professionals (e.g. lawyers, law firms and claims management companies). At Keller Lenkner UK, our expert data breach lawyers are committed to upholding the standards of our industry. That’s why it’s particularly upsetting when we are contacted by someone who has been let down by their solicitor.
Conveyancers. Many conveyancers deal with large sums of client money. This can increase the risk of a data breach and prove devastating if sensitive data falls into the wrong hands.
The Crown Prosecution Service. The CPS is the principal public agency for conducting criminal prosecutions in England and Wales. The ICO has previously fined it for losing unencrypted DVDs containing recordings of police interviews.
Criminal Injuries Compensation Authority (CICA). The CICA deals with compensation claims from people who have been physically or mentally injured because they were victims of a violent crime in England, Scotland, or Wales. The data held by the CICA is extremely sensitive, and the consequences of a data breach are grave.
Data breaches across this sector are happening because of a combination of human error (e.g. staff emailing sensitive information to the wrong recipient) and malicious cyberattacks. In many cases, people with access to police databases unlawfully used them to search for individuals.
The information held by the legal and criminal justice system is often extremely sensitive, and a data breach can have a devastating impact on the public. Privacy infringements can also harm officers themselves.