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Police notebook lost, names and addresses circulated among 'criminal element'

Officer's notebook lost for five days in December contains names of about 60 individuals related to police activity or investigations, along with 50 addresses, and was used to commit a criminal offence, police say.
Victoria Police Chief Del Manak called the notebook’s loss “unacceptable” and a “significant breach of privacy.” DARREN STONE, TIMES COLONIST

Victoria police are ­contacting those listed in an officer’s ­notebook that was lost in ­December and contains the names of about 60 ­individuals related to police activity or investigations, after the ­contents were copied and circulated among the region’s “criminal element.”

The notebook was recovered after being missing for five days, but was not reported as lost at the time, said police.

The officer is not being ­identified and the department has not said if the person has been suspended.

Police Chief Del Manak said he is disappointed by the ­privacy breach, which ­department leadership was ­unaware of it until last week.

He said the department has also determined that ­information contained in the notebook has a “linkage” to an alleged criminal offence in Saanich.

Manak said he could not c­omment on that case.

Fifty of the names ­mentioned in the notebook include addresses in Victoria, ­Esquimalt, Saanich, and the West Shore, but police said no witnesses or ­victims are mentioned.

The Office of the Police ­Complaint Commissioner and the Office of the Information and Privacy Commissioner have been contacted, police said.

Manak called the notebook’s loss “unacceptable” and a ­“significant breach of privacy.”

“On behalf of VicPD, I ­apologize to everyone impacted,” said Manak, ­adding the department will ask the Office of the Police Complaint Commissioner for an external investigation.

“I can assure you that VicPD will fully support that ­investigation as we work to answer the many questions we have about these events.”

Manak said the primary ­concern right now is ­ensuring that those identified in the notebook are aware of what has occurred.

Along with being ­notified, people at each address ­mentioned will be provided information to help ensure their safety, Manak said.

He said that could include advising them to stay ­somewhere other than their residence or having someone else stay in the home with them.

Despite that, there is no indication that those mentioned should be concerned about additional criminal activity, he said.

“We don’t feel that anyone is really at significant risk,” Manak said — in part because the information from the ­notebook has been out since December. “But we have a duty to warn and we have a duty to notify people that their ­information was shared.”

He said police are required to “take every step” to rectify the situation.

Having an officer’s notebook go missing and fall into the wrong hands is extremely rare, Manak said.

“A Good Samaritan could very well have picked up that notebook and taken it to the police station, and not even have opened up the notebook.”

Anyone with information about the situation is asked to call Victoria police at ­250-995-7654, extension 1.

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