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ICO issues reprimand to the Met over handling of OCG files

A breach is reported to have happened between April and July 2020.

The Information Commissioner’s Office has issued a reprimand to the Met following several issues around their handling of intelligence files relating to OCGs.

The breach is reported to have happened between April and July 2020 – it was first identified that a coding issue had occurred on the Police National Database (PND), resulting in a small set of test data being inadvertently introduced to the live system. This caused some files being rejected, an issue that the ICO said went unnoticed by the MPS for a “considerable amount of time”.

A second incident was then discovered whereby sensitive files that had been loaded onto the PND were not being updated correctly – the ICO said this also went unnoticed.

When both issues were resolved, the force then found that OCG records had remained on the system when they should have been deleted.

While no records were lost, the incidents led to information either not being available, not correctly updated, or deleted from the database.

Recommendations were subsequently issued including the force reviewing how its codebase is managed and assessing and updating code branches to ensure further protection and prevent code being inadvertently added to live systems.

The ICO has said it is satisfied that the Met has complied with the recommendations.

Stephen Eckersley, ICO Director of Investigations, said: “Dealing with any personal information should be done so with the upmost care. This is of particular importance to the MPS, which handles sensitive information directly relating to criminal activity.

“This reprimand reflects the ICO’s wider powers, including issuing reprimands and sharing good practice, to encourage greater compliance and empower organisations to use people’s data responsibly.”

A Met Spokesperson said: "The MPS has fully supported the Information Commissioners Office in relation to this matter.

"Once aware of this IT fault, the MPS worked with partners to address the issue.

"There is no indication this issue has resulted in any operational impacts for the Met or other police forces.

"We have accepted the recommendations in full and are putting in place a number of steps to take forward learning from the incident."

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