Your probation officer has a responsibility to keep your personal information confidential and secure. If your information was shared unlawfully,you a or your probation officer failed to properly secure it and this led to you suffering harm, you could be eligible to make a claim for compensation. This is a guide about data breaches. We’ll talk about the responsibilities placed on organisations that collect, hold or process personal information and the options you have if you suffer due to a probation officer data breach.
We’ll also discuss how compensation in data breach claims is valued and explain how you can contact a solicitor to help you if you suffered harm from a data breach
We also have advisers available to help. They can offer free legal advice and answer the questions you might have about what to do after suffering a data breach. You can contact one of our advisers now by:
- Calling them at 0800 408 7825
- Using the ‘contact us‘ page
- Typing a question in the live chat feature
Select A Section
- What Is A Data Breach By A Probation Officer?
- Types Of Personal Data That Could Be Affected
- Has The Probation Service Suffered A Data Breach?
- Steps To Take After A Probation Officer Data Breach
- How Much Could I Claim Following A Probation Officer Data Breach?
- We Could Help With Probation Officer Data Breach Claims
Personal information is data that can identify you. A personal data breach occurs when a security incident causes personal information to be unlawfully or accidentally:
Data processing is the recording and storing of information. Certain types of personal information are considered high risk and come with more legal protections for how they can be processed or shared. Criminal offence data falls under this category, and any person authorised to access or process this data has to be aware of and follow the strict rules in place for how it can be used.
Data Protection Laws
Legislation such as the UK General Data Protection Regulation (UK GDPR) and Data Protection Act 2018 set out guidelines for how your criminal data should be stored and secured, alongside regulations for who can access it, when it can be shared and what can be done with this information.
The UK GDPR sets out six lawful bases for processing and sharing general personal data:
- Consent: You gave your consent for your data to be used in such a manner
- Contract: It is necessary to fulfil a contract you have with the party
- Legal Obligation: It is necessary to meet a legal obligation
- Vital Interest: It can protect a life
- Public Task: It is in the public’s interest to share or process the data
- Legitimate Interest: The use and sharing of your data serves a legitimate interest
Your probation officer sharing information about you in a manner that does not fit in with any of the bases listed above can be a data breach e.g. if they disclose the information provided about you to a person not authorised to access the data
Your probation officer failing to properly secure the information provided about you can also lead to a data breach.
If you suffered harm from a data breach, speak to one of our advisers. You could claim if:
- Your personal data was involved in a breach; and
- You suffered mental or financial harm because of it: and
- The data breach was caused by the organisation’s wrongful conduct. For example, the organisations’ substandard online security might’ve led to a hacking attack or substandard training might’ve led to an employee data breach.
The types of data a probation officer might have on record about you includes your:
- Criminal history
- Personal Address
- Employment Information
- Personal information you share during meetings
Unlawful disclosure of this type of information can be harmful in many ways. Exposure of your criminal history or personal address could put you at risk of harm.
If you suffered harm from a data breach by your probation officer, you can reach out to an adviser now to discuss the legal options open to you.
A Freedom of Information (FOI) request was made to the Ministry of Justice (MoJ) in 2021, inquiring about any possible data breaches suffered by Her Majesty’s Prison and Probation Service (HMPPS) in the 12 months prior to September 2021.
They reported 2,152 data security incidents. The causes listed included lost devices.
In 2012, a probation officer was prosecuted for a privacy breach after disclosing a woman’s address to a person not authorised to have the information. The woman had previously brought forward allegations of domestic abuse against the person who was provided with the information. (Source: https://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/crime/privacy-breach-officer-let-off-with-ps150-fine-8764423.html)
Instances such as these highlight why restrictions are in place for the accessing and sharing of sensitive data.
If your information was exposed in the 2021 breaches, and the breach risked your rights and freedoms, the HMPPS have a responsibility to notify you about it. If you suffered harm from the breaches, you can contact one of our advisers now to discuss bringing forward a claim for compensation.
If you suspect a data breach has occurred but you haven’t been notified about it, you could make a complaint to the organisation directly. They can investigate the issue, and if they find an instance of a data breach that risks your rights and freedoms, they are required to inform you of their findings and have to report the breach to the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO).
You are also allowed to report a data breach to the ICO if the organisation provides an unsatisfactory response to your query. You must do this within three months of your final meaningful correspondence with the organisation.
If the organisation or ICO confirm that a breach occurred, you can use the reports they provide as evidence in a data breach claim.
Other evidence you can collect includes:
- Witness contact details (for statements): Any witnesses of substandard data protection practices could help your claim if they make a written statement.
- Financial Evidence: If the breach led to you suffering financial losses, maintain records of this as evidence.
- Medical Evidence: Your medical records of any diagnosis of stress or similar mental harm can act as evidence of how the breach has caused you harm.
A data breach solicitor can help you collect evidence to use in your claim. Reach out to one of our advisers for advice about how to speak to one, or for more information about claiming after a probation officer data breach.
What you can claim in compensation will be influenced by the effect the data breach has had on you.
You can claim compensation for any financial losses you suffered from the breach in a head of claim known as material damages.
This can include a loss of income from lost employment opportunities or money you have had to spend on therapy because of the breach.
You can also claim compensation for suffering mental harm or distress. This can be claimed under non-material damages. The Judicial College Guidelines (JCG) can be used to help value potential compensation estimates for mental injuries. We’ve included a table with figures from the 2022 edition below.
Injury Notes Award
Severe Psychiatric Damage Claimant left unable to cope with life £54,830 to £115,730
Moderately Severe Psychiatric Damage Similar injuries to above but with a more optimistic outlook for recovery £19,070 to £54,830
Moderate Psychiatric Damage Good improvement shown by the claimant after initially being unable to cope with life £5,860 to £19,070
Less Severe Psychiatric Damage Claimant's ability to sleep and perform daily activities was affected for a period of time £1,540 to £5,860
Severe PTSD Every aspect of the claimant's life will have been harmed by the condition £59,860 to £100,670
Moderately Severe PTSD A more optimistic chance of recovery than compared to above £23,150 to £59,860
Moderate PTSD The claimant has largely recovered from the above effects £8,180 to £23,150
Less Severe PTSD Claimant will have made a full recovery within 1 to 2 years £3,950 to £8,180
Following the ruling in the Court of Appeal case, Vidal-Hall and others v Google Inc 2015, you can now claim either type of compensation independently. You do not need to have suffered financial harm to claim for suffering mental harm. You can also claim for both damages.
Our advisers can value your claim and offer you an estimate of the compensation you could be awarded. If you suffered harm from a probation officer data breach, you can reach out to them now to discuss making a data breach claim.
A data breach solicitor can be of great benefit when making a data breach claim. They can offer you experience and help you with every part of the claim; from managing correspondence with the other party on your behalf, to even requesting and gathering evidence to strengthen your claim.
Our panel can also handle your claim on a No Win No Fee basis. This would mean they would not charge you an upfront solicitor’s fee, nor ongoing solicitor fees. Payment would only be made if your claim was successful and you were awarded compensation. This ‘success fee’ would be a legally capped percentage of the compensation. If your claim was not successful, you would not have to pay them for their services.
Our panel of solicitors could represent you in your claim for a data breach by your probation officer. Our advisers can discuss your claim with you, explain the claims process, and, if they find merit in your claim, put you through to a solicitor from our panel.
You can reach out to one of our advisers now by:
Other Helpful Resources
Below are some additional resources you might find useful.
- ICO: The ICO has a guide explaining the process of making a claim for compensation
- The government’s guide to probation
Thank you for reading our guide on making a claim for a probation officer data breach. We offer other guides on topics such as:
Please get in touch with our advisers for any information you might need.
Article by AA