Pc 'took data from police computer'
A police officer stole thousands of accident victims' details from her force computer and sold them with her lover and his wife in a conspiracy that could have netted them more than £1 million, a court has heard.
Former constable Sugra Hanif, 27, of Bretch Hill, Banbury, Oxfordshire, is on trial at Winchester Crown Court charged with obtaining and disclosing personal data from Thames Valley Police's command and control systems and conspiracy to commit misconduct in a public office.
Raza Khan, 27, of Ivy Road, Handsworth, Birmingham, is charged with obtaining personal data and conspiracy to commit misconduct in a public office, and his wife, Paramjeet Kaur, 26, from the same address, is charged with conspiracy to commit misconduct in a public office.
Peter Asteris, prosecuting, told the jury the conspiracy began in January 2011 when Hanif was having an affair with Khan.
He said Hanif would access the Thames Valley Police command and control computer to note the personal details of members of the public involved in road accidents, including the unique reference number (URN) each incident was given.
The three set up case management companies to sell this information to firms of solicitors who would pay them a referral fee for each case that led to a successful compensation claim.
Mr Asteris said each referral fee was worth between £600 and £800 and the trio gained a total of £26,400 from the 2,456 cases details Hanif stole during the 11-month conspiracy.
He added: "If all of the data stolen had been converted into referral fees, if they had kept going, the value of those referral fees would have been worth over £1 million."
Mr Asteris said: "Every day, tens of thousands of police officers go out there and perform their duties sometimes at not inconsiderable risk to themselves, and they do so as we would expect them to, with duty, responsibility and integrity.
"Integrity, honesty and duty are really what this case is all about. One of these defendants, Sugra Hanif, was a serving police officer with Thames Valley Police.
"The Crown's case against her is that she doesn't have integrity, she didn't fulfil her duties to us, the public, in the way she ought and she abused her position and she abused it with the assistance of the other two defendants in the dock.
"All three of them have been involved in a conspiracy to obtain confidential police information."
He continued: "She had accessed, I am going to suggest, a staggering 2,456 URNs, different incidents, on the computer and almost all of them had no connection with her duties, no connection with her responsibilities as an investigating officer.
"The Crown says she was abusing that system and stealing 2,500 people's details from that computer system. She had on almost every case no valid reason for doing so whatsoever."
He added: "We say it was nothing short of a deliberate and cynical abuse of the privilege she had been given by having access to that system in the first place."
All three defendants deny the charges.
Mr Asteris said Hanif claims she was forced under duress from Khan to steal the data while Khan and Kaur claim they did not know the data was illegal.
Explaining the relationship between Hanif and Khan, Mr Asteris said: "They became lovers and it seems that relationship has continued on for most of time we are dealing with in this case.
"The Crown says this conspiracy was planned out in advance, particularly by Mr Khan and Miss Hanif.
"Miss Hanif appears to suggest to police in her interview that her involvement in taking this data illegally was that she had been forced to by Mr Khan. She says that in fact she was being blackmailed and threatened and he threatened to disclose things to her family and employer."
Mr Asteris said: "That defence is an absolute nonsense and doesn't stand up to any scrutiny."
He said Khan sent her an email which included the lines "I will never stop loving you" and "Thanks for the great sex" and "At least you blew out my candle on my birthday".
He explained that of the 500 calls from Hanif's mobile phone to Khan during the period of the conspiracy, many were just before and after she accessed information on the police computer.
The prosecutor added that Hanif would also contact the accident victims and use "pressure sales" techniques to encourage them to file compensation claims through their claims management companies.
He said Khan's defence was that: "I had no idea my lover was illegally getting this material, I thought it was from a legitimate source."
He added: "That is also a complete fallacy, it can't possibly be true."
He also said that £1,600 in cash was found by police at Khan's house.
Mr Asteris said Kaur also claimed ignorance of the illegal source of the data.
He said that in March 2011, Khan registered a company called SR Auto Repairs Limited and the following month Hanif began to steal the police data.
Mr Asteris said that Hanif told police that the S and the R in the company referred to the initials of her first name and Khan's although Khan has denied this.
He said: "It is more than a coincidence that these two people, who are lovers, set up a company with the initials of their first two names."
He added: "When she was arrested, tucked inside her warrant card - the very proof she would use to prove that she is a serving police officer - was an SR Auto Repairs business card. That reflects that Miss Hanif was involved in two occupations at the time of this conspiracy, at first a serving police officer and second, we say, she was running a criminal enterprise."
Mr Asteris said that they went on to set up a second company in May 2011, registered under Kaur's name, to handle the growing number of cases.
He said: "The avarice, the greed of these two defendants is marked by the fact that a month into their criminal enterprise they launched a second company."
He added: "The volume of data being stolen by Miss Hanif began to rise and rise and rise. She was stealing more and more details as time went on."
He said a third company was then set up, again under Kaur's name.
Mr Asteris said police had not contacted all of the people whose data had been stolen but those who had been notified had been "shocked".
He said: "All of those people express their shock and outrage that their confidential information which they had entrusted to the police had been abused."
He said Hanif's actions eroded trust in the police.
He continued: "The police, like any organisation out there, are subject to the Data Protection Act and the police, like anyone else, are liable to the substantial fines and serious repercussions if information should be released in the way it has in this case."
The trial, which is expected to last a month, continues.