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Protecting Confidential Information: A Report on the Improper Access to, and Release of, Confidential Information From the Police Computer Systems by Members of the Queensland Police Service

NCJ Number
Date Published
November 2000
185 pages
A study conducted in Queensland, Australia, examined and suggested approaches for addressing issues related to police misconduct involving the unlawful access to confidential records and disclosure of confidential information held in police computer systems.
The study resulted from allegations in 1998 that police officers at one station may have unlawfully disclosed and disseminated confidential information from the computer systems of the Queensland Police Service (QPS). The review focused on information security, the market for information and the intermediaries who facilitate information exchange, and legislation to protect information. Study information came from a public hearing and reviews of research literature and previous Criminal Justice Commission studies. Results revealed that gaps existed in policies and procedures and that private investigators and other unauthorized persons in the private sector were the sources of requests for confidential information. Results also indicated that government regulations related to private investigators and commercial agents were inadequate, whereas current laws regarding confidential government information were adequate. The review resulted in recommendations to enhance the response of the QPS to information security, review the location of the QPS Information Security Section, prevent inappropriate access to QPS computer systems, and prevent access to computer systems using another person’s user identification. Additional recommendations involved risk management to ensure that members log out of computer systems before leaving a terminal unattended, prevention of conflict of interest through outside employment, and review of the issue of associations between police officers and private investigators or people in similar occupations. Further recommendations focused on ensuring the appropriate disposal of paper copies of confidential information, technology, internal audits, record keeping, awareness efforts, extensions of information security, and restrictions on access to criminal histories and other information. Figures, photographs, tables, notes, appended background information, list of further readings, and 37 references