Hundreds of victims of sexual offences were among those to have personal details leaked as part of a huge police data breach.

Norfolk and Suffolk constabularies revealed in August that a technical issue had led to sensitive raw data about crimes being mistakenly disclosed as part of responses to freedom of information requests.

Among the data leaked were details released were descriptions of domestic incidents, sexual offences, assaults and hate crimes. 

It also includes personal identifiable information on victims, witnesses and suspects.

READ MORE: Norfolk and Suffolk police leak data involving 1,000 people

Police have now revealed that among those affected were 767 victims of sexual offences.

In total, out of 1,230 people who have had their data breached between April 2021 and March 2022, 781 were victims of crime and 10 were witnesses.

Police began a process of contacting all the affected individuals whose personal data was leaked and a dedicated specialist team was set up to handle any queries from those worried about the consequences.

But a recent meeting held by Norfolk police and crime commissioner Giles Orpen-Smellie heard the forces had been able to inform most of those affected but that 168 victims “either did not engage in the process or were uncontactable”.

Wymondham & Attleborough Mercury: Norfolk chief constable Paul Sanford said most of those affected by the data leak had been contactedNorfolk chief constable Paul Sanford said most of those affected by the data leak had been contacted (Image: Jason Bye)

Norfolk chief constable Paul Sanford said while the leak had included some personal and sensitive data hidden within some spreadsheets, investigations had found “no evidence to suggest that anyone accessed this data who should not have”.

READ MORE: Violent and sexual offences now half of crimes in Norfolk

The data watchdog the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) launched its own investigation when the leak was discovered.

Stephen Bonner, ICO deputy commissioner, said: “The potential impact of a breach like this reminds us that data protection is about people.
"This breach – and all breaches – highlights just how important it is to have robust measures in place to protect personal information, especially when that data is so sensitive.”

Mr Sanford said they had remained in “close contact” with the IOC during the investigation and all victims had been “provided with all the reassurance they needed”.