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Victoria police lose notebook, 60 people at risk

Victoria police are apologizing two months after an officer lost a notebook they believe criminals used to their advantage.

The Victoria Police Department (VicPD) says the notebook was lost in December 2022. It contained approximately 60 names and 50 addresses within the Victoria area, all related to police investigations. It adds the information of witnesses or victims was not in the book.

Police say they believe the contents of the notebook were copied and circulated among criminals, adding information may have been used as part of a criminal offence in Saanich. Authorities could not say when the crime took place but confirm that nobody was hurt in it.

Investigators say so far, it is believed the notebook was lost for a five-day span and was not reported missing at the time. The department says it was notified of the lost notebook last week, prompting an investigation.

On Thursday, police say officers have begun notifying people whose information was compromised. Additionally, those involved will be given information on how to create a safety plan, however, police do not believe they are at risk of additional criminal activity.

Privacy breach ‘unacceptable’: Victoria police chief

Victoria Police Chief Del Manak says the Office of the Police Complaints Commissioner (OPCC) and the Office of the Information and Privacy Commissioner have both been notified.

“The significant breach of privacy that has occurred is unacceptable and on behalf of VicPD, I apologize to everyone impacted,” he said. “It could have been an officer lost their notebook and a good samaritan picked up the notebook and doesn’t even open the notebook and returns it within hours to the police department. Unfortunately, this notebook fell into the hands of the wrong individual.”

The chief says he’s unsure of why it took so long for the department to be notified of the lost notebook, something that he hopes will become clearer after an investigation.

“Our policy is very clear that if a notebook is either damaged, or misplaced, or lost, that there is a requirement to report to a supervisor. We’re going to look into all of that.”

Manak says it is too early to determine if there will be disciplinary action against any officers. In the meantime, there will be an independent investigation into the security breach, which is expected to take months.

“It’s our responsibility to protect that information that’s provided, and we failed, and we did not do that in this particular case, and we’re going to look into it and we’re going to make changes if changes need to be made,” he explained.

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