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Cheshire Police worker sentenced for illegally trawling data systems

|News, Cyber / online crime

A woman who worked for Cheshire Police has pleaded guilty to using the police data systems to check up on ex-partners and their family members.

The Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) said that Helen Millington, 55, of Westbrook in Warrington, illegally accessed the data systems on many occasions between April and August 2021.

She worked as a Communications Supervisor at the Northwest Motorway Patrol Group Regional Control Centre, in Newton-Le-Willows and joined Cheshire Police on the 27 August 1991.

On 18 October 2021, Cheshire Police’s Counter Corruption Unit (CCU) received information that Millington had been accessing the Police national computer to check on the whereabouts of her ex-partner’s vehicle.

She also checked on the whereabouts of vehicles used by her ex-partner’s family members. She also checked on details relating to another ex-partner. 

CCU research established a distinct pattern of significant suspected Police IT systems misuse by Millington.

She revealed what she had been doing to a friend who was a policewoman during a walk in the summer of 2021. The misuse was reported by an anonymous source. On 29 November 2021, Millington was arrested. 

She initially claimed that she had done the searches because she was worried that her ex-partner was driving when he had been drinking. But the investigation showed that there had been no legitimate reason for the searches.

She was charged and on 7 July 2022 at Crewe Magistrates’ Court she pleaded guilty to Causing a Computer to perform a function to secure/ enable unauthorised access to a programme and Knowingly or recklessly obtain or disclose personal data.

She was sentenced immediately to 100 hours of unpaid work.

Jack Child of CPS Mersey Cheshire said: “Helen Millington used her position of trust with Cheshire Police to access information about her ex-partner, his family members and other people for no legitimate reason whatsoever.

“She was aware that this was prohibited yet she carried on doing it. Her offending was frequent and bore a pattern over several months.

“A role with the police brings with it access to all sorts of sensitive information and staff are expected to use this access for only the legitimate reasons it has been given – not to trawl for information about ex-partners.

“She has now lost her good name and has a criminal record. She has only herself to blame.”

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