GPs who lose laptop face £5,000 fine

GPs who have laptops containing patients' records stolen from their cars should face prosecution, according to the Information Commissioner.

Giving evidence to the Lords’ Constitution Committee last week, Information Commissioner Richard Thomas said: ‘It is hard to see that is anything but gross negligence.’

GPs could be fined up to £5,000 in a magistrates' court or an unlimited sum in a crown court.
A spokeswoman for the Information Commissioner confirmed afterwards that a draft paper making the proposal had been submitted to the Minister of Justice.

She said: ‘It’s not just GPs. What we are saying is that where an organisation knowingly and recklessly fails to comply with the Data Protection Act and creates a substantial risk of damage or distress to individuals, we want it to become a criminal offence and to be able to prosecute immediately.’

At the moment the Information Commissioner must first issue an enforcement notice and only if this is breached is a criminal prosecution pursued.

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