Data stored on discs containing valuable information pertaining to three of the most sensitive inquiries in the United Kingdom have gone missing. The information has to do with police inquiries into the death of three men to include Robert Hamill, Mark Duggan, and Azelle Rodney.

According to officials, the discovery of the missing discs was made three weeks ago. Since that time, one staff member with the Ministry of Justice has been placed on suspension. In a statement from a government spokesperson, the loss is very serious.

In two of the three investigations, questions regarding fatal police shootings of London’s crime suspects arose. One was in 2005 regarding the death of Azelle Rodney and the other in 2011 specific to Mark Duggan’s death. The third inquiry had to do with the 1997 murder of Robert Hamill as a result of claims being made that the police were somehow involved.

While the work on the first two cases had been completed, no publication has been made on the incident involving Hamill. In a formal statement, the UK government said any information about security is taken seriously and that in this case, there was a definite breach.

Although extensive searches were conducted by the government along with law enforcement, the two missing discs have not surfaced to date. However, there is no evidence indicating the loss was intentional or malicious. The government also advised that the families of all three men have been informed of the missing discs.

Sadiq Khan, Shadow Justice Secretary, referred to the lost discs as being a horrible security lapse. He added that if the data on the two discs were to land in the hands of the wrong people, it would be disastrous. The government spokesperson pointed to the justice secretary stating his responsibility in getting grip on this urgent situation and that he needed to determine what is being done to recover the data but also reassure people that something like this will never happen again.

Officers from the Metropolitan Police were involved with both the Duggan and Rodney cases stressed that they too are taking the data breach as something extremely serious. They also disclosed that the material on the discs had been assessed for risks and that all necessary steps had been taken, following confirmation that while they are not doing an investigation, they are working with and supporting the Ministry of Justice.

It was only recently that the Information Commissioner’s Office was made aware of the data breach as such, will be making inquiries into the circumstances surrounding the incident prior to making a decision on what action, if any, is needed. One concern is that people who were witnesses in all three deaths, to include police officers, could have their safety at risk.