Police were entitled to tell a man’s employer that he had been convicted of drink driving, an investigation by the Police Ombudsman’s Office has found.
The man had been arrested while driving a delivery van in Co. Derry/Londonderry last August. He was later convicted, lost his licence and resigned from his employment.
On the day following the court case a police officer went to the man’s place of work and informed a manager of the outcome of the case.
The driver later lodged a complaint with the Police Ombudsman’s Office that there was no need for police to have informed his employer about the conviction as he had resigned from his job the previous day.
He said the police decision to visit his former employees had only served to cause further distress, particularly as a relative, who worked for the same employers, had overhead the officer discussing the case.
When interviewed, the police officer explained that he had been unaware that the man had resigned the previous day.
He said he had been advised by the public prosecutor that he should advise the man’s employers about the conviction. He then checked the PSNI’s Roads Policing Unit whether he had the right to do so.
The query was subsequently referred to the police Data Protection Officer, who advised that the information could lawfully be shared with the employer on the grounds of public safety – given the nature of the goods the man had been employed to deliver.
The officer added that the information had only been divulged in a private office at the man’s workplace, and only to a manager and a member of security staff. Enquiries with the employers confirmed this to have been the case.
The Police Ombudsman investigator concluded that the officer had correctly followed police guidance and procedures, and had acted in compliance with the Data Protection Act.