Spanish local police keeps illegal database for political reasons

By EDRi · September 10, 2008

(Dieser Artikel ist auch in deutscher Sprache verfügbar)

It has been revealed that the Spanish local police of Sada (Galicia) was
keeping an illegal database with information and pictures of people,
gathered during night patrols.

On 14 August 2008, a counsellor, a local police officer and a Guardia Civil
sergeant discovered in an office of the USC (Unidade de Seguridade Cidadán –
City Security Unit) an archive with the photographs and personal data of
people identified during night patrols. Apparently the archive was locked
and the council officials responsible with the local police had no access to
the respective files.

The situation was considered as “irregular” and Mayor Abel López Soto
announced an investigation into the matter, offering the council’s
co-operation with the Prosecutor’s Office. Disciplinary proceedings have
been opened against the local police chief inspector and the head of USC
whose department was responsible for night-time patrols and was keeping the
illegal files. The two officers accused the council of making-up evidence
against them.

The Mayor stated its office had never been advised by the local police of
the existence of such a database although the Mayor’s office is in charge of
municipal staff including the local police. Therefore, Sada council did not
know about these databases which had not been subject “to prior registration
required by Organic Law 15/1999… for the protection of personal data”. He
also said that the council might apply a fine of between 60 000 and 300 000
euro to the local police as, in terms of Organic Law 15/1999 the action is
considered a “serious offence”. He also claimed that he “will not tolerate
strange behaviour outside of the law in any municipal department and by any

Apparently, there is a long history of political fight at the basis of the
dispute between the Mayor and the police. Also, in the files, hand-written
notes and coloured markings have been found showing a certain type of
classification that may be related to the political affiliation of the
subjects. One of the most serious issues is that part of the files refer to

For the time being, the files have been left into the custody of the local
police pending the prosecutor’s office decision on whether the files should
be confiscated or the inquiry should remain only an administrative one. On
18 August, the Movemento polos direitos civís (MpDC, Movement for civil
rights) has issued a statement complaining about the prosecutor’s office not
opening a criminal investigation ex officio in such an important case.
MpDC’s statement says that the organisation intends to file a lawsuit
against the local police to open a judicial investigation in case the
prosecutor’s office continues to drag on this case. MpDC also argues that
this situation shows that the prosecutor’s office depends on security bodies
and that this is another case which proves the necessity of an independent
body to investigate police conduct.

Illegal database held by local police in Sada (Galicia) (01.09.2008)

O MpDC valora presentarse como acusación particular contra os policías de
Sada (18.08.2008)

The Attorney General resists in investigating ex officio the political
scandal of Sada (19.08.2008)