NEW figures have revealed 150 police officers and staff in our region have been caught breaching data protection laws.

Eighty police officers and civilian workers with North Yorkshire Police and 70 with Humberside Police have been disciplined for accessing confidential and personal information for their own use.

The figures, obtained using the Freedom of Information Act, cover the period from January 2009 to October 2013.

In North Yorkshire, four of those disciplined were inspectors or chief inspectors, seven were sergeants, 31 were constables, 14 were PCSOs and 24 were civilian staff.

Three staff were dismissed for breaches, eight resigned before proceedings began and 58 received written warnings, management advice or informal action.

A spokesman for North Yorkshire Police said: “The security of personal data held by North Yorkshire Police is an issue we treat extremely seriously.

"Regular proactive monitoring of access to data on a daily basis, accounts for the majority of the recorded breaches which are featured in the statistics.”

Last year, North Yorkshire officer Matthew Daniel Fisher, 37, of Selby, was jailed after being found guilty of sexually assaulting two women, having used the police national computer to look up personal details. 

Nationally, hundreds of police staff, including high-ranking officers, were censured for breaching data protection laws, including snooping on their children and ex-wives.

More than 100 staff were sacked and nearly 200 resigned as a result of breaches.

The Information Commissioner's Office, which upholds information rights among public bodies, said it had fined two forces 220,000 in recent years after serious failings were uncovered.