Woman Receives £75,000 Compensation in Privacy Case

A woman who had suffered domestic abuse who agreed to let Greater Manchester Police (GMP) use details of her case to instruct officers how to handle such cases, provided her personal details remained anonymous, has been awarded £75,000 in compensation for the psychiatric harm she suffered after she discovered that her identity, medical history and a recording of the 999 call she had made to the Police were all used in a training session.

The woman had acquiesced to GMP's request in the belief that it would help the Police and other agencies improve the way in which they deal with cases of domestic abuse and felt betrayed when she discovered what had happened. Her attempts to find out exactly what information had been used in the training material were met with 'unnecessary and unhelpful' delays on the part of GMP.

She brought a case against GMP on the ground that she had suffered psychiatric harm as a result of the public disclosure of sensitive personal data. Specifically, she argued that GMP had acted in breach of its statutory duty under the Data Protection Act 1998 and brought claims for breach of confidence and misuse of private information.

GMP apologised to the woman and was at pains to reassure her and other victims of domestic violence who might be deterred from coming forward to report abuse that it was an exceptional case and that steps had been taken to ensure that it could not happen again.

The compensation award of £75,000 is thought to be one of the largest paid out by the Police in a privacy case.