Claiming For A Police Data Breach | No Win No Fee
By Jo Greenwood. Last Updated 6th June 2023. Whether you’ve committed or are accused of committing an offence, are the victim of a crime, or have witnessed a crime, the police are likely to have processed or stored some of your personal data.
But did you know that it may be possible for that data to have been breached and that if it has, and you’ve been harmed emotionally or financially because of a breach of your data, you could make data breach claims against the police?
This guide sets out the information you may need to know if you’re looking to claim for a police data breach or criminal justice data breach. In the sections below, we provide guidance on the laws that protect your personal data, how it could be breached and how a breach could affect you. We also offer guidance on making data breach claims against the police or the Ministry of Justice, including details of the benefits of using a lawyer to make a claim.
In addition to this, we explain how we could help you begin a claim without you having to pay a penny until your claim has been successfully settled. If you’d like us to check your eligibility to make a police data breach claim, or you know you’re eligible and would like our help to start your claim, you can call the Legal Expert team on 0800 073 8804 at any time.
Select A Section
- Can I Claim Compensation For A Police Data Breach?
- How A Police Force May Breach A Person’s Data Protection Rights
- Examples Of Police Data Breaches
- Should I Report A Police Data Breach?
- How To Make A Data Breach Claim Against The Police
- Data Breach Compensation Amounts
- Can I Make A Police Data Breach Claim On A No Win No Fee Basis?
- Make A Data Breach Claim Today
- Learn More About Police Data Breaches
To be eligible to make a personal data breach claim following a police data breach, you will need to prove the following:
- Your personal data was involved in the breach.
- The breach was caused by the organisation’s failings.
- You suffered financial loss or mental harm as a result of the personal data breach.
Personal data is any information that could directly identify you or identify you in combination with other information. Your name, home address and national insurance number are all examples of personal data.
Any organisation that processes your personal data must adhere to rules and regulations set out for them in the UK General Data Protection Regulation (UK GDPR) and the Data Protection Act 2018 (DPA), as together they make up data protection law. Per data protection law, any organisation processing your personal data must take all the necessary steps to protect it. Failure to do so could result in a data breach, and your personal data could be compromised.
A personal data breach is a security incident that affects the confidentiality, availability or integrity of personal data. If you can prove your personal data was breached due to an organisation’s failings, and as a result of the breach, you suffered financial loss or psychological harm, you could be eligible to make a personal data breach claim.
If you are eligible to make a claim against the police for a personal data breach, you will also need to adhere to the time limits. Generally, you will have 6 years to start a personal data breach claim. This is reduced to one year if the claim is against a public body.
To find out if you could be eligible to make a personal data breach claim if a UK GDPR breach by the police involved your personal information, you can contact our advisors.
A data breach by the police could happen in a number of different ways. These could include:
- A letter being mistakenly posted to the wrong address, when the systems should have been updated to reflect a change of address so that this did not happen. For example, an ANPR data breach could happen if the relevant department sent a letter to your old address because you were suspected to have parked illegally, or were accused of speeding.
- The loss or theft of sensitive information technology hardware, such as USB sticks, laptops, computers and other devices that contain data. For example, if a laptop was stolen and it had access to the Police National Computer, a data breach could occur if someone was able to log into it.
- A government department being subjected to a cyber attack. Whether this leads to a courts data breach, a PNC data breach or any other breach of your data, if you are harmed by it, financially or emotionally, this could lead to a claim if the attack was possible because computer equipment had not been updated/kept secure.
- A recent example of a real-life breach can be found in the PSNI data breach which saw the personal information of all members of the Northern Ireland police force shared by a member of staff accidentally when responding to a Freedom of Information request.
These are just a few examples. If you’ve suffered a criminal justice data breach, an Automatic Number Plate Recognition data breach, or any other breach of your personal data by the police or any department within the criminal justice sector, we could assess your case to see if you could claim.
What Could Happen If Personal Data Is Breached?
If your personal data is breached, this could lead to identity theft, financial theft, fraud, loss of privacy and emotional distress. If you believe that you have suffered material or non-material harm due to a breach of your police data, data protection laws allow you to seek compensation through data breach claims against the police.
If you’re interested in learning more about data breaches that have happened within the police force, the two cases below might be of interest to you.
Metropolitan Police Data Breach (2018)
In 2018, the ICO ruled that a data breach had occurred in relation to a database known as the Gangs Matrix. This database held the details of alleged gang members, and while the ICO ruled that there was a specific purpose for the data to be on the database, the way in which it was used was not compliant with data protection rules.
As a result of the ICO investigation, it issued an enforcement notice, which gave the force 6 months to implement changes to ensure it did not risk Metropolitan Police data breaches of the same nature in future. The timing of this case meant it was dealt with according to the Data Protection Act 1998, as opposed to GDPR and the Data Protection Act 2018.
Greater Manchester Police Data Breach
In October 2020, a statement was posted on Greater Manchester Police’s website, revealing that they were investigating a potential data breach. The police reported the potential breach to the ICO, and investigations were ongoing at the time.
While neither of these incidents has led to a police force data breach fine, we should mention that the ICO has the power to enforce breaches of data protection laws by fining those responsible. In fact, a Ministry of Justice data breach led to the MoJ being fined £140,000 in 2013 when it was found that details of all inmates serving time at HMP Cardiff were sent to 3 inmates’ families. (Source: https://www.lawgazette.co.uk/practice-management/moj-fined-140000-for-data-breach/5038309.article)
If you believe your personal details have been breached, you may be interested to learn that the ICO advises you to raise a complaint with the organisation that holds your data; in these cases, this would be the police themselves. The ICO suggest that you put your complaint in writing, make sure it is addressed the appropriate department, and give a timescale as to which you would like a response.
In your report, the ICO advise you to be specific, stating the nature of the breach and how you believe it happened. You could also mention how you have been affected by the police data breach.
If the police don’t respond to your report in a timely manner, you could escalate your complaint to the ICO and ask them to investigate. Complaints to the ICO should be made within three months of the breach, however, as if there are delays in bringing your case to their attention, they may not investigate.
We should advise you that whether you report your case to the ICO or the police or not, you could still seek legal advice and make a claim against them for a breach of your personal data. There are, however, time limits to claiming; 6 years for a police data breach and 1 year if you’ve suffered a breach of your human rights.
If you’re looking to make data breach claims against the police, you may not know where to begin. If you wish to go it alone, you could write a letter asking the police to investigate the data breach and pay you compensation for any financial losses or emotional distress you’ve suffered as a result. If the police do not issue a satisfactory response to your request, as mentioned you could escalate your complaint to the ICO and ask for an ICO investigation into your complaint.
However, you may not want to go through the process of making a claim alone, as it could be difficult to know what would be an appropriate figure to ask for, and negotiating with the police could be a long-drawn-out process that could be quite stressful for some. This is why many claimants prefer to use a solicitor to handle the negotiations for them. If you would like us to provide you with a solicitor, we could help with this.
When it comes to calculating a settlement for emotional distress for data breach claims against the police, you would have to have an independent medical assessment. Your psychological injuries would be assessed, and a report would be compiled detailing your prognosis for recovery as well as the level of injury. This could be used to come to an appropriate value for your claim.
We understand that many claimants would like to get a rough idea of how much compensation they could be eligible for, so we have created a table using the Judicial College Guidelines’ figures for psychological injury and PTSD to give you some insight into how much compensation you could claim.
|Injury||Notes||Compensation Bracket (JCG)|
|Less severe PTSD cases||The injured party would have almost fully recovered within 1-2 years post-trauma. They may only experience very minor symptoms over a longer period of time.||Up to £7,680|
|Moderate PTSD cases||Any continuing disabilities wouldn’t be gross, and the injured person would have largely recovered.||£7,680 to £21,730|
|Moderately severe PTSD cases||With professional help, the injured party would have a prognosis for some recovery. However, some continuing significant disabilities could remain.||£21,730 to £56,180|
|Less severe psychological injury||How long the injured party has suffered for, as well as their daily activities and sleep were impacted by the injury would be taken into account.||Up to £5,500|
|Moderate psychological injury||While a significant impact may have been experienced when it comes to the person’s ability to cope with life, education and work, and their relationships, there would have been marked improvements in the impact that the injury has had and the person would have a good prognosis.||£5,500 to £17,900|
|Moderately severe psychological injury||While a significant impact may have been experienced when it comes to the person’s ability to cope with life, education and work, and their relationships, their prognosis would be more positive than the most severe category.||£17,900 to £51,460|
Making a data breach claim against the police could be daunting, which is why many claimants may prefer to use the services of an experienced lawyer. Here at Legal Expert, we believe that accessing legal assistance should not have to be cost-prohibitive. We believe everyone who has a valid claim should be able to make one without having to pay upfront for a lawyer’s services. This is why all of our lawyers are able to take on eligible claims under No Win No Fee payment terms.
This means you won’t have to pay your lawyer until and if your compensation has been paid out. The process usually works as follows:
- You’d sign a Conditional Fee Agreement – this would promise your solicitor a specified ‘success fee’ in the event that compensation was negotiated for you. The fee is capped, legally, and is usually a small percentage of your payout.
- Once signed, your lawyer would work on your behalf to claim the compensation you deserve
- When compensation has been negotiated, the success fee would be deducted from it, with the rest being for your benefit
- If no compensation is awarded/negotiated, your lawyer would not require you to pay their costs, nor the success fee
If you have any questions about these payment arrangements, there is a further guide covering No Win No Fee claims in more detail at the bottom of this page. Alternatively, you could give us a call and we’ll be happy to explain these terms in more detail.
If you would like to discuss your cases or ask us any questions about making data breach claims against the police, we’d be happy to help. We could also help you start your claim by providing you with a Legal Expert solicitor, who could help fight for compensation on your behalf. All you need to do is get in touch with us:
- Via telephone: 0800 073 8804
- By e-mailing the team: email@example.com
- By using our handy Live Chat service
- Or, by completing the contact form.
Below, you can find more useful resources on what to do if you suffer damage because of a police data breach:
- General Advice – General advice on making a claim for a data breach can be found in this guide.
- What To Do If Data Is Breached?– The ICO offer guidance to organisations who may have suffered a data breach.
- How Could Data Be Used?– This is a useful resource from the ICO that talks about what data could be used for.
- No Win No Fee Lawyers– This guide explains more about No Win No Fee.
- Credit Card Data Breaches – This guide covers making a claim for a breach of credit card company data.
- Enforcement And The ICO – This page from the ICO website shows what actions they have taken for breaches.