26 September 2023

OVIC finds police miss privacy skills

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The Office of the Victorian Information Commissioner (OVIC) has uncovered a lack of dedicated privacy training and awareness in Victoria Police activity but has found the force managed extensive work providing family violence training for its personnel.

Releasing his report Examination into privacy and information handling training at Victoria Police, Information Commissioner Sven Blummel said Victoria Police collected, managed, and used sensitive and personal information of Victorians, including delicate information related to some of the most vulnerable members of the community.

“A lack of appropriate training in privacy and information handling can increase the risk of misuse, loss, unauthorised access, modification, and disclosure of this information,” Mr Blummel said.

“The examination found that as of February 2022, Victoria Police had not provided any privacy-specific training available for its members for more than a year,” he said.

“The examination also found a lack of resources within its Privacy unit and Education Unit.”

Mr Blummel said that while no dedicated privacy training was available to Victoria Police members, there was a range of training available to its personnel that touched on information handling principles including cyber security and information security.

He said that due to the lack of dedicated privacy training and the awareness provided, OVIC found that Victoria Police may not be compliant with its obligations under Information Privacy Principle 4.1 of the Privacy and Data Protection Act 2014.

In contrast, Mr Blummel said that since the 2016 report of the Royal Commission into Family Violence, Victoria Police had done extensive work on providing family violence training to its personnel, including comprehensive guidance about handling information gathered in a family violence context.

“Victoria Police’s response to the Royal Commission into Family Violence demonstrates it can deliver effective training on handling sensitive and personal information when this is prioritised and appropriately resourced,” Mr Blummel said.

He said Victoria Police had accepted the findings of his examination, had provided further resourcing to its privacy team, and had undertaken to review privacy and information handling education annually.

OVIC’s 29-page Examination Report can be accessed at this PS News link.

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