Information inside a Victoria police officer’s lost notebook was used to commit an alleged but unspecified crime in Saanich, the department announced Thursday (Feb. 16).
The officer lost a notebook, containing 60 names and 50 addresses of Greater Victoria residents, for a five-day period in December and it was not reported at that time, VicPD said in a news release.
The department then launched an investigation after learning this month that contents of the notebook “had been copied and were being circulated among the criminal element of Greater Victoria.”
The news release did not say how the information was used in relation to the alleged criminal offence in Saanich, or what kind of nefarious incident occurred.
The officer’s notes contained addresses in Victoria, Esquimalt, Saanich and the West Shore. All of that personal information related to a police action or investigation and did not include the names or addresses of any witnesses or victims, VicPD said.
Police on Thursday began notifying those who were identified through the personal information that was shared and those living at the impacted addresses.
“The significant breach of privacy that has occurred is unacceptable and on behalf of VicPD, I apologize to everyone impacted,” Victoria Chief Del Manak said in the statement.
He said department policies clearly state that lost or damaged notebooks must be reported.
“That’s the part that’s disappointing,” Manak said in an interview.
The capital city force has asked the Office of the Police Complaint Commissioner to open an external investigation into the matter, which VicPD said it will fully support.
The chief added he has unanswered questions on many details of the incident and the independent review will uncover: why the lost notebook wasn’t reported right away, what role the officer played, when the officer knew it was lost, the circumstances of the notebook being lost and how it was recovered.
It’s unacceptable and extremely troubling that the breach led to a crime, Manak said. As far as he knows, there were no injuries resulting from that incident.
“My primary concern at this time is ensuring that the people identified in the notebook are aware their information has been shared, and that they are supported in feeling safe,” Manak said in the news release.
Police said each impacted address will be provided information to create a safety plan and to help ensure the safety of their residence.
“However, there is no indication that persons whose information was in the notebook should be concerned about additional criminal activity at this time,” the Thursday release said.
The Office of the Privacy Commissioner has also been notified of the incident. Manak said it’s unclear how widely the information was shared.
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