SEVEN Gwent Police employees were internally disciplined and one dismissed over the last three years for breaches of the Data Protection Act.

Campaigning group Big Brother Watch said that the figures, obtained under the Freedom of Information Act, showed four of those internally disciplined were police officers.

The other three, and the one individual who had their employment terminated, were civilian members of staff.

All the cases were due to staff members viewing information on internal police computer systems, said Gwent Police, between May 2008 and May 2011.

The databases included the force’s intelligence system and the incident logging system.

None of its employees were convicted of charges of breaching the DPA, the FOI response showed.

Some other police forces had much higher numbers of breaches, however, with a total of 208 police officers and staff in Humberside receiving cautions for “viewing a computer record relating to a high-profile arrest”.

In Kent, ten members of staff had their employment terminated for DPA breaches.

Daniel Hamilton, director of Big Brother Watch, said: “Police forces must adopt a zero tolerance approach to this kind of behaviour.”

A Gwent Police spokeswoman said the force makes every effort to ensure staff are aware of their responsibilities regarding data protection.

“Our computerised systems have stringent checking facilities in place to ensure as much as possible that only appropriately risk assessed staff members can view them,” she said.

“When there are breaches or potential breaches, they are investigated and dealt with in the most effective way and lessons are learned to ensure that risks are minimised.”