On Friday 3 December 2021, a staff member reported that they believed they had lost a non-password protected USB stick containing complainant and Police information. Investigations between 3 December 2021 and now established that the USB stick is most likely lost in the public domain and holds personal information. The Authority is treating the loss of the USB stick as a security breach and a privacy breach.
USB sticks are routinely used internally as part of our initial evidential gathering process. The USB stick should have been password protected but it was not. It also should not have been taken out of the office. Despite extensive search efforts the USB stick has not been located.
Our priority has been to identify the information on the USB stick and the people affected by this breach. Police have assisted with this technically complex process. The USB stick holds copied documents, audio recordings, and CCTV footage.
The USB stick holds personal information relating to 11 complaint matters. There are 14 private citizens and two Police staff directly affected. There are also 46 others whose digital image was captured while they were working:
• 41 Police staff members
• 5 Health professionals
We have personally contacted all affected individuals or their representatives and advised them about what has occurred. We have apologised to them all.
Authority Chair Judge Colin Doherty said, “I am mindful that Police and the public trust us with sensitive, personal and private information to do our work, and that we undertake to keep this information secret and safe. We have failed to do so in this instance, and I apologise to the people affected and to the Commissioner of Police.
The Authority takes this situation extremely seriously. I have reminded my staff of their obligations and expected behaviours when handling information entrusted to the Authority. We are reviewing and reinforcing our IT and information access practices. We have also completed an employment investigation in relation to the affected staff member, the outcome of which will remain private.”