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Vic police under fire for security lapses

AAP logoAAP 15/10/2016 Melissa Meehan

Victoria Police say they're more aware of security issues and that's the reason for a sharp increase in security breaches within the force.

A government report has found 453 "information security incidents" in the past financial year - up 36 per cent on the year before.

Lost or stolen police ID's made up the majority of breaches, followed by the unauthorised release of information and theft or loss.

But Victoria Police say the increased figures are the result of improved reporting measures which, in turn, helps highlight areas that needed to be addressed.

The Privacy and Data Protection report also revealed police were using their own mobile phones, computers and equipment to capture, store and send confidential information - meaning data was often taken to crime scenes and unsecured locations.

Officers also often stored law enforcement data under their desks or in personal equipment lockers, rather than being securely filed.

Commissioner David Watts surveyed a number of officers, roughly 16 per cent of the workforce, and many admitted to ignoring security policies, confusion about information classification and a reliance on hard copy data.

"A substantial minority of sworn members would 'work around' an issue to get the job done rather than adhere to restrictive policy and procedure," the report said.

Victoria Police took the unprecedented step of establishing an amnesty for "personal holdings" of law enforcement data amount officers to be archived or destroyed.

Victoria Police spokeswoman Anthoula Moutis said the force had been working closely with the Commission on a range of initiatives to improve information security and the increased figures were an anticipated result of those efforts.

"Victoria Police takes security seriously and out commitment to this is evidenced in the cultural reform program we have been implementing," Ms Moutis said in a statement to AAP.

"This has included steps to lift the awareness of security issues in our workforce."

She said Victoria Police would consider the final report and recommendations to determine whether further initiatives needed to be explored.

Opposition police spokesman Edward O'Donohue described figures highlighted in the report as "alarming".

"The inability of Daniel Andrews to prevent these concerning failures is a risk to community safety with information confidential to police now in the community," he said in a statement on Sunday.

The state government has been contacted for comment.

The Privacy and Data Protection report found:

* 207 lost or stolen police certificates of identity

* 40 incidents of police information released without authorisation

* 32 cases of data spill (including exposure of police information)

* 27 unauthorised access

* 21 theft or loss of asset

* 18 malware infection

* 18 cases of abuse of privilege

* 5 stolen Victoria Police credentials.

Source:Commissioner for Privacy and Data Protection Annual Report 2015-16

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