A man is suing the Metropolitan Police claiming that his safety has been compromised after the force’s gang matrix was reportedly leaked online – with his name and address on it.
The data breach happened in 2017 and was revealed in September 2018.
A relative of the 28-year-old obtained the information and sent it to him on WhatsApp.
He said he feared for his safety and claims panic alarms have been installed at the home he shares with his parents and child.
Pages from Scotland Yard’s gangs matrix, which includes the names and suspected gang affiliations of more than 3,000 people, were photographed and circulated on social media.
The database was established following the 2011 London riots and uses intelligence including history of violent crime, entries on social media and information from authorities including local councils to identify gang members.
It is shared with agencies including social services, housing authorities and education staff.
The Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) is carrying out an investigation into Newham Council over the alleged breach, which was first reported in November.
A review said a copy of the Met’s Gang Matrix was lost by an “unknown professional”, picked up by a member of the public, “photographed and shared on social media” and then “accessed by unknown individuals”.
HuffPost UK has approached the council for comment.
The man’s lawyer, Victoria Richardson, from Hudgell Solicitors, said the leak left he and his family feeling “exposed” and worrying about their safety.
She said in a statement: “The document clearly contained his name and the address of his parents, where they all live together.
“Our client’s name was one of around 150 which was clearly visible, along with other personal details and gang names.
“For our client’s family, it is of course particularly worrying to see their address on this list, knowing it has been shared on social media platforms and not knowing who has seen it, and what the result of that information getting into the wrong hands could be. They feel it has left them and their home exposed.”
She added that the leaking of sensitive police intelligence was “shocking” and “beyond belief”.
The Met’s matrix has come under fire from a number of human rights groups, with Amnesty International UK blasting it as not fit for purpose.
The charity urged London Mayor Sadiq Khan to “dismantle” the database after its report into the matter concluded that it breaches international human rights law.
The Information Commissioner’s Office subsequently confirmed it was investigating.
ICO deputy commissioner for operations, James Dipple-Johnstone, said as part of its probe it was “considering how the database is used and if any aspects of it constitute a breach of the Data Protection Act”.
Amnesty International UK’s director, Kate Allen, claimed that some officers were resorting to underhand and unethical tactics to populate the matrix.
“Some police officers have been acting like they’re in the Wild West, making the false assumptions that they can set up fake profiles and covertly befriend people online to monitor them without needed RIPA warrants,” she said.
Blogging for HuffPost UK, Allen further accused the matrix of being racially discriminatory, claiming that it stigmatises young black men for the type of music they listen to, or their social media behaviour, perpetuating racial bias.
Last month, the ICO found the Met’s use of the matrix led to “multiple and serious breaches of data protection laws” and gave the force six months to address the matter and adjust the way it handles data.
Force bosses said there was an action plan in place to bring the database in line with the law and it would continue using it to reduce the impact of gang violence.
The Met has not yet responded to a request for comment.