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Watchdog tells Victoria Police to keep a closer eye on personal data

The number of reports at the force has been declining over time, which IBAC says may reflect under-reporting and the difficulty in detecting misuse.

But there was a spike in reported incidents in 2017/18, potentially due to some improvements to information security practices.

Despite that, IBAC says Victoria Police must do better at handling personal information to ensure it doesn’t fall into the wrong hands, which can have dire consequences.

The safety of victims and witnesses could be threatened and investigations could be compromised if such misuse does occur.

Other risks include organisations being less inclined to give information to police and organised crime groups gleaning insights into how to avoid detection or plan further crimes.

IBAC has recommended Victoria Police ramp up audits of its databases to help spot issues.

The database most likely to be misused is the Law Enforcement Assistance Program (LEAP) – which holds details of anyone who has had contact with police as a victim, witness or offender – due to its wide use.

“IBAC’s view is that auditing of LEAP needs to be more robust, targeted, proactive and sustained.”

The corruption watchdog has also recommended Victoria Police carry out more ongoing training for officers on information misuse and security.

Victoria Police has been contacted for comment.

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