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Thursday, 27 November 2014

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Cumbria university discloses details of 25 students to police

The University of Cumbria has passed on the personal details of more than 20 students to police over the last three academic years, new figures reveal.

The latest available information shows that the university disclosed details of 25 of its students to officers carrying out formal investigations between 2010 and 2013.

Four related to investigations relating to theft or damage, eight for sexual or violent crimes and 10 where a student was a potential witness or victim of crime.

Three did not have sufficient details to be categorised, according to a Freedom of Information request.

Police must make all requests formally in writing, using designated and recognised forms.

They do not have to state the type of offence or whether the student involved is a suspect, yet university staff have been able to establish the nature of most of the investigations.

All students who join the University of Cumbria are given details explaining that there are some circumstances in which their details can be passed on to third parties.

The university’s decision whether to disclose any information following a request can only be authorised by senior staff.

A statement from the University of Cumbria said: “The Data Protection Act includes an exemption which allows the university to disclose information to the police where this is necessary for the ‘prevention or detection of crime’ or ‘apprehension or prosecution of offenders’.

“The police must make the request in writing and are always asked to use their own form to request information about students. This form requires the police to explain in general terms why they need the information and to confirm that the Data Protection exemption applies.

“Any disclosures of information by the university to the police are always authorised by a senior member of staff. The university’s procedures are based on good practice guidance published by the Information Commissioner’s Office.”

It adds: “When a student joins the university they receive a data protection statement which explains that in some circumstances their information may be disclosed to external organisations.

“The university’s procedure for disclosing student information to the police, as well as our data protection statement for students, are also published on our website.

“Where a student is a witness to or victim of crime we will also usually try to inform them that the police are trying to contact them.”

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