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Claiming For A Police Data Breach | No Win No Fee

By Jo Greenwood. Last Updated 9th January 2024. 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.

Police data breach

Police data breach claims guide

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Can I Claim Compensation For A Police Data Breach?

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.  You could be eligible to make a  data breach claim. However, you will need to prove that your personal data was compromised because of the organisation’s failings. This could occur through human error or as the result of criminal activity. Additionally, you will need evidence that shows you suffered financial losses or psychological harm because of this compromise in your personal data.

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.

If a UK GDPR breach by the police involved your personal information, you could be eligible to claim compensation. Contact our advisory team to find out more.

How A Police Force May Breach A Person’s Data Protection Rights

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.

Data Breach Graphic Hovering Over Keyboard

You might be eligible to make a police data breach 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.

Examples Of Police Data Breaches

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:

Should I Report A Police Data Breach?

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.

Report Data Breaches On Keyboard

You can report the compromise of your personal details to the organisation that breached them.

Data Breach Compensation Amounts

If your claim for a police data breach is successful, your settlement could include compensation for up to two types of damage. These are:

  • Non-material damage – this refers to the emotional distress caused by the compromise of your personal data.
  • Material damage – this refers to the financial losses you’ve suffered as a result of the compromise of your personal data.

To assist with valuing your emotional harm, those responsible for evaluating data breach claims may refer to the compensation brackets found in the Judicial College Guidelines (JCG). This document lists guideline compensation amounts for different types of physical and psychological injuries.

In our table below, we look at a few figures for psychiatric harm from the 16th edition of the JCG. As every claim is valued based on the individual merits involved, our table does not represent how much compensation you will receive. We should also note that the first figure of this table has not been taken from the JCG.

Injury Notes Compensation Bracket (JCG)
Significant psychological injuries and financial harm Settlements may include compensation for significant psychological distress plus the claimant’s financial losses, such as money taken from their bank account. Up to £250,000+
Severe psychological injury The claimant’s lifestyle has been significantly impacted with an affect on their ability to work, cope with life and an impact on their personal relationships. The prognosis in this category is very poor. £54,830 to £115,730
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. £19,070 to £54,830
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. £5,860 to £19,070
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. £1,540 to £5,860
Severe PTSD The claimant will suffer permanent effects that prevent them from functioning at the same level as they did prior to the incident. This impacts all areas of their life. £59,860 to £100,670
Moderately severe PTSD cases With professional help, the injured party would have a prognosis for some recovery. However, some continuing significant disabilities could remain. £23,150 to £59,860
Moderate PTSD cases Any continuing disabilities wouldn’t be gross, and the injured person would have largely recovered. £8,180 to £23,150
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. £3,950 to £8,180

Material Damage In A Police Data Breach Claim

Your settlement may also include compensation for your material damage. For example, if someone was able to gain access to your bank account following the compromise of your personal data, your funds could be taken. You will need to provide evidence of your material damage in order to claim compensation for it, such as with your bank statements, for example.

In addition to valuing your potential police data breach compensation, a member of our advisory team can also discuss your financial losses and what evidence you could save to recover these. Get in touch today using the contact details above.

Can I Make A Police Data Breach Claim On A No Win No Fee Basis?

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.

No Win No Fee

A No Win No Fee solicitor can support your compensation claim.

Make A Data Breach Claim Today

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:

Learn More About Police Data Breaches

Below, you can find more useful resources on what to do if you suffer damage because of a police data breach:


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    • Patrick Mallon

      Patrick is a Grade A solicitor having qualified in 2005. He's an an expert in accident at work and public liability claims and is currently our head of the EL/PL department. Get in touch today for free to see how we can help you.