The Independent Police Conduct Authority on Thursday revealed a security and privacy breach after a staff member lost an unprotected USB stick containing police information.
The IPCA launched an investigation into the lost USB stick after it was reported missing on Friday, December 3, 2021.
"The Authority is treating the loss of the USB stick as a security breach and privacy breach," a spokesperson said in a statement.
On Thursday the authority's investigation established the USB stick is likely lost in the public domain which holds personal information.
"USB sticks are routinely used internally as part of our initial evidential gathering process. The USB stick should have been password protected but it was not."
The IPCA said the USB stick should not have been taken out of its office and after extensive search efforts, the stick could not be located.
"Our priority has been to identify the information on the USB stick and the people affected by this breach."
The authority said the missing USB stick holds personal information relating to 11 complaint matters which included 14 private citizens and two police staff.
The authority adds 41 police staff and five health professionals whose digital image was captured while they were working are also on the missing stick.
"Police have assisted with this technically complex process. The USB stick holds copied documents, audio recordings, and CCTV footage."
The IPCA says they have personally apologised to all affected individuals.
"I am mindful that Police and the public trust us with sensitive, personal and private information to do our work, and that we undertake to keep this information secret and safe. We have failed to do so in this instance, and I apologise to the people affected and to the Commissioner of Police," IPCA chair Judge Colin Doherty said.
Doherty added the authority is reviewing and reinforcing its IT and information access practices and completed an employment investigation in relation to the affected staff member.