Department for Work and Pensions 'revealed domestic violence victim's identity to abuser', MP claims

The woman was living under police protection and had been forced to change her identity

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The Independent Online

The Department for Work and Pensions has revealed a domestic violence victim’s identity to her abuser, an MP has claimed.

Hannah Bardell, MP for Livingston, says one of her constituents approached her for help after the government released her identity to her abusive former partner while they were in the process of calculating her benefits.

It is thought the move could have placed the woman at serious risk as she was on a police protection programme and her identity had been changed due to her violent ex-partner.

Ms Bardell told the i newspaper: “She was under police protection. It had been so bad that she’d had to change her identity.  

"When you have a constituent sitting in front of you who had to get a new identity, who had to live under police protection because of the seriousness of what she’d been through, and she’s having her details shared by the department that’s supposed to be protecting and helping her, it strikes me that there are flaws in the system.”

The MP suggested the information could have been given in error due to lack of resources within the DWP. She said: “It’s part of the wider picture of cuts and austerity. When you’re cutting a department to the bone, it’s not going to have the resources to be effective.”

A spokesperson for the Department for Work and Pensions said they were unable to comment on individual cases, however: “All our staff receive comprehensive training on how to handle and protect personal information and the department has specific guidance on supporting vulnerable people.

“Information is only ever disclosed to organisations such as the police or social services if it will help protect the individual concerned.”

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