'Serious data breach' after man receives police email with sensitive information on pupils

Video report by ITV News Meridian's Richard Slee

Dorset police are investigating a serious data breach involving pupils from two schools in Christchurch.

Information about an alleged race hate crime was mistakenly sent to a man from Wimborne who had initially emailed the police about a separate incident. 

Dorset police say it was human error that led to the information about the school incident being released to a third party.

Paul Reader received a message from Dorset Police containing sensitive information involving a different incident. Credit: ITV News Meridian

The message included the names of the two schools involved and the names of three pupils, including the pupil who is alleged to have sent the message along with its contents and the original report by the school to the police. 

Paul Reader says he was shocked to see the message.

He says: "That's not the sort of thing I thought they would send out; even by accident. I wouldn't be happy if that was my child and had all their details, personal information, and the school to be honest.

"The fact that it was a racist incident as well, you know, what about their kids and the school, and the families involved. I imagine they're not going to be too happy."

In a statement Dorset police said: "We can confirm that a data breach has been reported to us by a member of the public. We take any report of a data breach extremely seriously and have robust and clear internal processes to follow.

"Human error has resulted in the details of a reported incident being disclosed to another member of the public.

"Having been made aware of the breach it was reported to our Information Assurance Department. This has activated an internal investigation where all aspects of the breach will be reviewed. We have stringent processes in place and a full and thorough investigation is underway.

"Part of this investigation is to determine whether a self-referral to the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) is needed and if, following the internal investigation, it is deemed necessary this will be done within the required timeframe of 72 hours.

Credit: Dorset Police

"All individuals named in the documentation sent to the member of public have been notified and we will continue to engage with them and provide support.

"While Dorset Police manages many contacts with the public every day, this genuine human error will be prevented going forward due to new software being installed imminently.

"We have offered our sincere apologies to the person who wrongly received the data, as well as the individuals involved who have inadvertently had their details shared."