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Data Loss And A Bad Week For The Police

Data Loss/Police

As IT geeks, nothing makes our ears prick up like the mention of IT issues in the national news. Things like online scams, security issues, and most troubling, lost data.

So you can imagine when we heard about the police losing thousands of data records, we were interested to know the ins and outs, what went wrong, and how it could have been avoided.

Luckily, it’s thought the lost records won’t have an impact on public safety. This however got us thinking anyway about lost data.

What can happen when data is lost or stolen? Is there any way to recover such data? What, as a business can you do to stop this happening to you?

A Bad Week For Data Loss

To say the police have had a bad week would be an understatement. As soon as the ‘technical issue’ hit the news, people were quite rightly worried about the impact the data loss could have on policing and public safety.

So what happened?

In a nutshell, police data was lost from the Police National Computer. This is a system that stores and shares criminal records information across the UK. 400, 000 records were ‘lost’ due to a technical issue.

The records held information such as fingerprint data, arrest records, and DNA files. All pretty important stuff when it comes to the police being able to do their job. ­

As engineers scrambled to recover the data, others speculated on how the error has occurred. As it turns out, the data loss this time was down to human error so there wasn’t a security breach.

The records haven’t been recovered but reportedly, a process has already been put in place to stop it happening again.

How Can You Lose Data?

In the case we have seen this week with the police, the lost data was down to human error. It is thought a coding error meant records due for deletion may have contained records that needed to be reviewed. Human error is one of the most difficult causes of data loss to protect against as, well, people make mistakes.

What other ways can data be lost?

In addition to human error or failure, there are other ways your data can vanish, including:

  • Theft
  • Software corruption/error
  • Computer viruses
  • Hardware destruction

As you can see, threats to data can be both internal and external. Additionally, internal human mistakes should not be underestimated over external threats such as viruses and theft.

The Impact Of Data Loss

Data loss will impact each business differently. This will depend on the data breach, how it is handled, and the impact on customers.

In the case of the police, the results could have had included serious threats to public safety, demonstrating just how important it is that data is properly protected and that steps are put in place to mitigate the risks.

For businesses, data loss could lead to legal action being taken out against them, reputational damage, and financial losses.

What Can You Do To Avoid Data Loss?

There are numerous routes to data loss, but most cases involve poor security procedures, this is especially common in businesses that lack a dedicated IT function or support.

At a minimum, businesses owners need to practise good password security, and put processes in place to help reduce human error/failure.

Additionally, for smaller businesses or those looking to outsource their IT support, a good IT support package will go a long way towards avoiding catastrophic data losses with features such as:

  • Professional antivirus protection
  • System monitoring and alerts
  • Routinely auditing data security

Also, with a top-level package, such as our PETA package, comes the reassurance that your emails and data are securely backed up and that your business is covered by our Virus Recovery Guarantee.

Having the ability to recover lost data can be a lifesaver in some situations – let’s hope the police manage to recover their records!


For more information on data security and how you can ensure your business is covered, give us a call on 01282 506 616 or email

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