Evesham police officer found guilty of illegally accessing personal data - The Evesham Observer

Evesham police officer found guilty of illegally accessing personal data

Evesham Editorial 31st Aug, 2017 Updated: 1st Sep, 2017   0

A DETECTIVE constable is expected to be dismissed by West Mercia Police for her ‘serious dereliction of duty’ in revealing confidential police data to help out a friend’s brother.

Disgraced officer Dc Kate Buesing had pleaded not guilty to charges under the Data Protection Act of obtaining personal data and disclosing that personal data to another person.

But after considering the case for three hours and 27 minutes, a jury at Warwick Crown Court found her guilty of both charges by unanimous verdicts.

Buesing (36) who was based in Evesham, where she also lives, was fined £500 for each of the offences – and Judge Stephen Eyre QC ordered her to be jailed for 28 days in respect of each fine if they are not paid within 28 days.

Prosecutor Andrew Wallace had told the jury: “A police officer is under a duty not to disclose personal data without the consent of the data controller, who would be the Chief Constable.

“Data records held by the police relate to criminal investigations or complaints, and they are for official use in the course of police duty – not for individual officer to access to assist friends.

“But that is how this defendant, who is a serving police officer, chose to use stored police information.”

Mr Wallace explained that Buesing’s best friend Samantha Cope’s brother James and his wife Jodie were going through divorce proceedings and a related family court matter in October 2014.

On October 6 Jodie Cope reported to other police officers that she had been assaulted a couple of years earlier by James Cope throwing a glass at her, which hit her in the face.

“You do not have to concern yourself whether that is true or not, but the defendant is charged with abusing her position by obtaining that personal information and then passing it on.”

James Cope knew a police car had visited his wife at the house where they still both lived, and was trying to find out why – after she told him it was just to do with some shed break-ins.

“James Cope was not satisfied with what Jodie told him. He got his sister to get her friend to do some digging around for him, and that digging occurred on the 9th of October.”

Records show Buesing accessed the data log of Jodie’s complaint at 2.06pm that day – and her mobile phone records show that at 2.27, while still on duty, she made a call to Samantha.

The call was a long one, lasting more than 12 minutes, and Samanatha Cope’s phone records show that within 19 seconds of ending that call, she was on the phone to her brother.

“The inference is that something has been discussed between her and Kate Buesing which influences James Cope.”

With his lawyer, James Cope then prepared a statement for the family court proceedings in which he said he had been ‘made aware’ of a complaint made by Jodie, and made detailed references to her allegations, describing them as ‘complete fabrications.’

Mr Wallace said the details in James Cope’s statement and the details in the police log were so similar that he ‘could have had a copy of it in front of him.’

“We have an inescapable inference that Kate Buesing disclosed data from the police system to Samantha Cope. There is no other way for James Cope to know the precise details.”

Buesing claimed in court that she accessed the data for police purposes, and she denied passing any information from the police record to Samantha Cope.

But Mr Wallace said that if she had a legitimate reason for accessing it, she should have declared a personal connection to a supervising officer before doing so.

Following the jury’s verdicts, Richard Gibbs, defending, pointed out: “This is a matter that doesn’t carry a custodial sentence, only financial penalties.

“In view of her pleas, the only mitigation I can put forward is personal mitigation. As a serving police officer, there will be obvious consequences and repercussions.”

He said Buesing, who had a £35,000-a-year salary as a detective constable, had not been suspended pending the outcome of the case, but had been moved to other duties.

Jailing Buesing, Judge Eyre told her: “The public give information, sensitive personal information, to the police service which is kept in trust.

“You deliberately, foolishly, to help a friend, breached that trust.

“You looked at the computer system simply to help out a friend, knowing you were giving her information to assist her brother in a family matter which was nothing to do with you.

“It was a serious dereliction of duty.”

The judge, who said he would not order her to pay the costs of the case, added: “I take account of the fact that it must be almost inevitable that the consequence of these verdicts will be that you will lose your employment.”

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