image of north wales police website

Civilian police worker took information to “please partner”

It’s well established that a significant volume of data breaches occur due to human negligence or involvement, but not like this!

A police clerk recently admitted “hacking” the North Wales Police computer network to search and discover sensitive information about others. The data breach occurred during Sandra Firth’s employment between August 2018 and May 2019.

Firth, a grandmother of four, pleaded guilty to accessing material held on the force’s system without any legal purpose or authorisation. It was reported that Firth accessed data about herself and relatives before accessing data about other individuals that she subsequently shared with others. Reports also say Firth did this to please her partner at the time. The breach was said to include “sensitive material” and left the victims open to a “significant risk of harm.”

Firth’s offence and the data breach only came to light in 2020, when another member of the public was arrested over an unconnected matter. This arrest subsequently led to the discovery of photographs of data held on the North Wales Police computer.

Firth received a suspended sentence following her guilty plea.

Successful prosecution but questions to answer for the police

Given the information that has been reported, it appears that Firth had taken photographs of the accessed data.

While a successful prosecution has been brought in this case, it will undoubtedly lead to further questions regarding North Wales Police’s data security policies. It may be the case that Firth shouldn’t have had her smartphone with her during her shift. Still, it may be argued that the police should have better due diligence procedures in place to stop such incidents from happening so easily.

In general, however, this case highlights once more just how fragile our data privacy can be. Even with high levels of security in place, all it can take to cause a data breach is one person with a smartphone or camera doing something to please their partner!

Image Credit: Jarretera /

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