Suffolk Police accidentally published identifying details of ‘hundreds’ of sexual assault victims on its website – sparking investigation

  • Details including names, ages and addresses were published on police website
  • Rape Crisis charity said breach would put ‘women at risk of further violence’ 
  • Investigation has been launched into the incident and PCC apologised to victims

A police force published the personal details of ‘hundreds’ of sex assault victims on its website.

Victims’ names, addresses, dates of birth, details of the offence and information about the suspects are understood to have been left on view to the public by Suffolk Police.

One person who spotted the blunder said ‘hundreds’ of victims were affected.

An urgent investigation has now been launched by the Information Commissioner’s Office.

Charity Suffolk Rape Crisis condemned the error, saying: ‘Survivors of sexual violence who have reported [it] to the police are entitled to lifetime anonymity.

‘Survivors have a right to safety and security and, if perpetrators were to have access to women’s addresses and contact details, this would be a considerable safety risk and could put women at threat of further violence.’

Suffolk Police said the information was quickly removed from their website after the breach. The PCC Tim Passmore apologised to those affected (file image)

A sex attack victim from the county said: ‘It feels like being abused all over again. Anybody could read these details.

‘I’m struggling to understand how they could make such a stupid mistake.’

The breach was discovered last week. It was not clear where the information was on the website or how long it was available for.

Suffolk Police said: ‘We were made aware that some personal information, which should not have been uploaded, could be accessed via the constabulary website.

‘The matter was quickly resolved and the information can no longer be accessed.

‘An investigation is now taking place into how this error occurred. The Information Commissioner’s Office has been notified of this incident.

‘We do take our obligations under the Data Protection Act very seriously.’ Suffolk’s Police and Crime Commissioner, Tim Passmore, demanded measures to prevent a repeat of the breach.

He said: ‘I was informed of the situation by the Deputy Chief Constable and told the matter had been resolved as quickly as possible.

‘It is absolutely right that a full investigation of this data breach is now taking place and I will be kept updated on this.

‘I need to know how this error occurred and be reassured measures are in place to avoid it happening again.’

A total of 2,451 sexual offences were reported in Suffolk in 2021, while there were 6,529 reports of stalking and harassment – a rise of 5.5 per cent overall from 2020.

Suffolk Rape Crisis added: ‘Reporting rates in Suffolk are still low, so survivors need to feel that Suffolk Constabulary are safe and trustworthy.’

The ICO, an independent body which protects information rights, said: ‘We have received an incident report from Suffolk Police and we are assessing the information provided.’

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