An investigation has been launched after Suffolk police accidentally published the names and addresses of victims of sexual assault on its website.
Information published on the constabulary’s website is believed to have contained victims’ names, addresses, dates of birth and details of the alleged sexual offences committed.
A member of the public told this newspaper it affected “hundreds” of victims.
Suffolk Police say the data was accessible to the general public for a short period of time before being quickly removed after the service was made aware of the breach.
Support organisation Suffolk Rape Crisis warned such a leak “could put women at threat of further violence”.
“Survivors of sexual violence who have reported to the police are entitled to lifetime anonymity,” the charity said.
“Survivors have a right to safety and security, and if perpetrators were to have access to women’s addresses and contact details this would be a considerable safety risk and could put women at threat of further violence.”
A Suffolk Constabulary spokesman said: “Suffolk Police were made aware that some personal information, which should not have been uploaded, could be accessed via the constabulary website.
“This matter was quickly resolved and the information can no longer be accessed.
“An investigation is now taking place into how this error occurred.
“The Information Commissioner’s Office has been notified of this incident.
“We do take our obligations under the Data Protection Act very seriously.”
A spokesman from the ICO said: “We have received an incident report from Suffolk Police and we are assessing the information provided.”
Suffolk’s police and crime commissioner, Tim Passmore, has called for measures to be put in place to prevent such an incident happening again.
He said: “I was informed of the situation by the Deputy Chief Constable and told the matter had been resolved as quickly as possible.
“It is absolutely right that a full investigation of this data breach is now taking place and I will be kept updated on this.
“I need to know how this error occurred and be reassured measures are in place to avoid it happening again.”
Suffolk Rape Crisis added: “We know that women should have control and ownership over to whom they share their story, and a data leak would remove this choice.
“The process of reporting a sexual violence offence to the police can be triggering and reporting rates in Suffolk are still low, so survivors need to feel that Suffolk Constabulary are safe and trustworthy.
“We would encourage any woman who feels re-traumatised or overwhelmed by this information to seek support and look after their wellbeing.”
You can contact the charity here or reach out to its Helpline (open Tuesday evenings from 7-9pm) on 0800 0850 520.