Out-Law / Your Daily Need-To-Know

A Special Constable working for Dorset Police was fined £1,000 yesterday for using a police database to investigate people she knew, in breach of the UK's Data Protection Act, according to reports.

Special Constables are not the same as regular police officers. They are volunteers who receive training from their local police force and give at least four hours of their time a week to support officers in their local communities.

Geraldine Tabor, 51, worked at a filling station in Dorset. But her role as a Special Constable gave her access to the police criminal records database. She used it to check the backgrounds of two colleagues, one of whom she suspected of stealing fuel, the other of stealing bags of chocolate oranges.

Tabor was fined £500 for each offence and £500 in costs, according to the Scotsman newspaper.

Shelagh Gaskill, a partner with Pinsent Masons, the law firm behind OUT-LAW.COM, said: "Organisations must ensure that staff with access to a database at work understand how to use it responsibly and appreciate that misuse can be a criminal offence, not just an employment matter."