Domestic abuse victim wins £75,000 in police training privacy case

A domestic abuse victim whose personal details and a recording of a 999 call were used in a training session without her permission has received a payout of £75,000 from police.

The woman took legal action against Greater Manchester Police (GMP) on the grounds that she had “suffered psychiatric harm due to having very sensitive and personal material made public”.

The legal firm that represented her claimed that her payout was one of the biggest ever by a British force in a privacy case.

A spokeswoman for GMP said that the force had apologised and taken steps to make sure it could not happen again.

In 2014, the victim agree to let GMP use anonymised details of her case in a training session for officers and other agencies who deal with domestic abuse.

But the woman later found out that her identity, medical history and even a tape of a 999 call that she had made were used.

Her lawyer, Nick McAleenan from JMW Solicitors, said: “My client has suffered psychiatric harm due to having very sensitive and personal material made public.

“She had thought that permitting the force to use details of her case – even anonymised – might help police and other agencies improve the way in which they deal with those who suffer domestic abuse.

“That what happened involved an officer assigned to support her felt, she says, like a betrayal.”

Mr McAleenan said she had experienced “unnecessary and unhelpful delays” when trying to find out exactly what material GMP had used.

He added: “She was dragged through the litigation process and forced to undergo an interview with a psychiatrist to examine the impact of the disclosures.”

The woman made her claim over the misuse of private information, the breach of confidential information and non-compliance with the Data Protection Act of 1998.

A GMP spokeswoman said: “We have apologised to the woman involved and assured her that steps have been taken to ensure that this could not happen in the future.

“It was quite right that we adequately compensated the woman concerned for the mistakes that were made and the effect they had on her. The force has taken action to protect the individual’s information to prevent any issue in the future.

“We have undertaken extensive work in recent years to encourage victims of domestic abuse to come forward and want to reassure them and other victims that this was an exceptional case.”

The force added: “This was an unacceptable mistake, however it was done with the best of intentions as part of training for partner agencies around recognising the signs of domestic abuse.”

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