Rogue police deleted data at gangs' behest, says report

Rogue police deleted data at gangs' behest, says report

Summary: Police officers allegedly deleted intelligence records from law enforcement databases at the behest of organised criminals, via private investigators, according to a Channel 4 News report.

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TOPICS: Security
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Police officers allegedly deleted intelligence records from law enforcement databases at the behest of organised criminals, via private investigators, according to a Channel 4 News report.

The Serious Organised Crime Agency (SOCA) produced a confidential report in 2008 which alleged that private investigators had used crooked police officers to perform actions including the deletion of records; accessing details of investigations against criminals; and attempting to discover the identity of informants and the location of witnesses, on behalf of criminals, Channel 4 News said on Thursday.

It was not clear what action had been taken after SOCA passed the 'Private Investigators: The Rogue Element of the Private Investigation Industry and Others Unlawfully Trading in Personal Data' report to the Home Office in 2008, said Channel 4 News.

The Home Office declined to confirm or deny the existence of the report on Friday, and declined to say whether any action had been taken against the alleged rogue officers.

"We're not discussing any kind of report, if there is a report," a Home Office spokesman told ZDNet UK on Friday.

SOCA confirmed the existence of the report, but declined to comment further.

"This report was inappropriately obtained," a SOCA spokeswoman told ZDNet UK.

Channel 4 News obtained the report in the course of the proceedings of the Leveson inquiry into phone hacking and press ethics, it said in its article.

The Metropolitan Police, which has an anti-corruption squad, declined to comment, and directed ZDNet UK to the Association of Chief of Police Officers (ACPO).

ACPO told ZDNet UK that the report had been passed by SOCA to the Home Office in 2008, and directed ZDNet UK back to the Home Office for comment.

Keith Vaz, the chair of the Home Affairs Committee, told Channel 4 News that the committee may have to call former home secretary Jacqui Smith and SOCA representatives before the committee to ask about the deletion of data.

Topic: Security

Tom Espiner

About Tom Espiner

Tom is a technology reporter for ZDNet.com. He covers the security beat, writing about everything from hacking and cybercrime to threats and mitigation. He also focuses on open source and emerging technologies, all the while trying to cut through greenwash.

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2 comments
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  • Is this really a surprise to any one. How many people have access to Police systems? It must be in the hundreds of thousands UK wide. At least one of those people is likely to be susceptible to intimidation or a substantial bribe.

    What i find amazing is that there is a denial that this type of activity can take place, or refusal to engage in dialogue about it. But that is why I am not a politician, or even political.

    What I would like to see is a system to detect changes, and log who made those changes. I am sure they do that in the finance sector. Oh, look that cashier took some money from Mr Smith's account, lets have a chat - without coffee!
    anonymous
  • Well changes to any database will be logged with time, date and details of the changes made.
    This will be done at the system database level independent of any user or procedural checks.
    It would take someone with access to the system at system programmer level to change the details of the actual database(s).

    Any competent data analyst should be able to see the details, but not change them, though like any reporting system, the people can give out false details.
    dave@...