Two people wrongly arrested because officials wrote down 'wrong numbers'

 

Two members of the public were arrested by police and wrongly accused of crimes because officials wrote down the wrong numbers, a watchdog revealed today.

Sir Paul Kennedy, the Interception of Communications Commissioner, said two forces were given the wrong information by a communications service provider (CSP) which led to two people being wrongly detained and accused of crimes last year.

The firm was also slow to report the errors and initially gave unsatisfactory explanations as to how they occurred or what was being done to prevent it happening again, Sir Paul said.

"In two separate cases where a CSP disclosed the incorrect data, the mistakes were not realised and action was taken by the police forces on the data received," he wrote in his annual report for 2011.

"Regrettably, these errors had very significant consequences for two members of the public who were wrongly detained / accused of crimes as a result of the errors.

"I cannot say more about these two instances at this time as investigations are ongoing."

Some 42 per cent of the errors made last year were caused by acquiring data on the wrong communications address, he said.

He added: "This type of human error usually occurs due to the transposition of digits in telephone numbers or internet protocol (IP) addresses."

While the mistake was realised "in the vast majority of cases", these two errors were not noticed before action was taken, he said.

Sir Paul went on: "In these cases the CSP was slow to report the errors and I was not initially satisfied with the explanations the CSP provided in relation to how the errors occurred, or the measures they put in place to prevent recurrence.

"I am pleased to say that this CSP has since put in place some very sensible measures which will hopefully prevent recurrence of similar errors in future.

"Fortunately errors with such severe consequences are rare."

A total of 895 communications data errors were reported last year, with a fifth of these made by CSPs and the rest by public authorities.

"I am satisfied that the overall error rate is still low when compared to the number of requests that were made during the course of the reporting year," Sir Paul added.

But Prime Minister David Cameron told MPs the Government was not complacent and "the causes of these breaches and errors will need to be addressed".

PA

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Day In a Page

Middle East crisis: We know all too much about the cruelty of Isis – but all too little about who they are

We know all too much about the cruelty of Isis – but all too little about who they are

Now Obama has seen the next US reporter to be threatened with beheading, will he blink, asks Robert Fisk
Neanderthals lived alongside humans for centuries, latest study shows

Final resting place of our Neanderthal neighbours revealed

Bones dated to 40,000 years ago show species may have died out in Belgium species co-existed
Scottish independence: The new Scots who hold fate of the UK in their hands

The new Scots who hold fate of the UK in their hands

Scotland’s immigrants are as passionate about the future of their adopted nation as anyone else
Britain's ugliest buildings: Which monstrosities should be nominated for the Dead Prize?

Blight club: Britain's ugliest buildings

Following the architect Cameron Sinclair's introduction of the Dead Prize, an award for ugly buildings, John Rentoul reflects on some of the biggest blots on the UK landscape
eBay's enduring appeal: Online auction site is still the UK's most popular e-commerce retailer

eBay's enduring appeal

The online auction site is still the UK's most popular e-commerce site
Culture Minister Ed Vaizey: ‘lack of ethnic minority and black faces on TV is weird’

'Lack of ethnic minority and black faces on TV is weird'

Culture Minister Ed Vaizey calls for immediate action to address the problem
Artist Olafur Eliasson's latest large-scale works are inspired by the paintings of JMW Turner

Magic circles: Artist Olafur Eliasson

Eliasson's works will go alongside a new exhibition of JMW Turner at Tate Britain. He tells Jay Merrick why the paintings of his hero are ripe for reinvention
Josephine Dickinson: 'A cochlear implant helped me to discover a new world of sound'

Josephine Dickinson: 'How I discovered a new world of sound'

After going deaf as a child, musician and poet Josephine Dickinson made do with a hearing aid for five decades. Then she had a cochlear implant - and everything changed
Greggs Google fail: Was the bakery's response to its logo mishap a stroke of marketing genius?

Greggs gives lesson in crisis management

After a mishap with their logo, high street staple Greggs went viral this week. But, as Simon Usborne discovers, their social media response was anything but half baked
Matthew McConaughey has been singing the praises of bumbags (shame he doesn't know how to wear one)

Matthew McConaughey sings the praises of bumbags

Shame he doesn't know how to wear one. Harriet Walker explains the dos and don'ts of fanny packs
7 best quadcopters and drones

Flying fun: 7 best quadcopters and drones

From state of the art devices with stabilised cameras to mini gadgets that can soar around the home, we take some flying objects for a spin
Joey Barton: ‘I’ve been guilty of getting a bit irate’

Joey Barton: ‘I’ve been guilty of getting a bit irate’

The midfielder returned to the Premier League after two years last weekend. The controversial character had much to discuss after his first game back
Andy Murray: I quit while I’m ahead too often

Andy Murray: I quit while I’m ahead too often

British No 1 knows his consistency as well as his fitness needs working on as he prepares for the US Open after a ‘very, very up and down’ year
Ferguson: In the heartlands of America, a descent into madness

A descent into madness in America's heartlands

David Usborne arrived in Ferguson, Missouri to be greeted by a scene more redolent of Gaza and Afghanistan
BBC’s filming of raid at Sir Cliff’s home ‘may be result of corruption’

BBC faces corruption allegation over its Sir Cliff police raid coverage

Reporter’s relationship with police under scrutiny as DG is summoned by MPs to explain extensive live broadcast of swoop on singer’s home