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Police officer cautioned for improperly accessing police records

A police officer in Northern Ireland has been cautioned after improperly accessing police records.

He was being investigated over an allegation of assault made against him by a member of the public and opened files relating to the case and a similar matter involving a colleague, the Police Ombudsman said.

Ombudsman Dr Michael Maguire concluded that the officer had breached the Data Protection Act and submitted a file to the Public Prosecution Service (PPS).

The PPS directed that the officer should be prosecuted for common assault and offences relating to data protection and computer misuse. But after consultation, the PPS offered the officer an adult caution, which he accepted.

The Ombudsman subsequently submitted a misconduct file to the PSNI, recommending that the he should be disciplined for his conduct. The PSNI has since done so.

A routine police audit showed the officer had accessed records from the investigation into his colleague's conduct.

Ombudsman investigators then asked police to check whether the officer had also accessed records about the probe into his own conduct. Another audit showed that he had.

The officer accepted that he had no lawful reason for opening any of the records.

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From Belfast Telegraph