Council Data Security: Loss of information “Deeply Disturbing”

Between 2011 and 2014, Local Authorities have recorded 4236 data breaches according to a report that has come out this week. Read on to find out more about the Data Protection Act and how Security breaches like these can be avoided.

It has been reported this week that thousands of data breaches have been reported to the Information Commissioner’s Office, averaging 4 every day for a period of 3 years.

260 of the cases compromised sensitive or confidential information, and 658 cases involved information relating to children.

Examples of breaches include:

  • A social worker Lewisham council in London left papers containing confidential records about children and information linked to sex offenders on a train
  • A CCTV operator at Cheshire East council watched part of the wedding of a colleague and was issued with “management instruction” on future use of employee at Thanet in Kent was dismissed after accessing benefit claim records “inappropriately”.
  • More than 5,000 letters were sent to the wrong address or included content meant for another recipient,
  • In Portsmouth a member of staff was sacked for passing “highly sensitive confidential” information to a third party.

This quote is taken from the BBC Article: “Council data security ‘shockingly lax'”

A spokesman for the Local Government Association said: “Councils take data protection extremely seriously and staff are given ongoing training in handling confidential data.

“When [breaches] do occur, robust investigations and reviews are immediately undertaken to ensure processes are tightened.”

The Guardian quotes privacy campaign group Big Brother Watch’s director, Emma Carr:

“A number of examples show shockingly lax attitudes to protecting confidential information. For so many children and young people to have had their personal information compromised is deeply disturbing.

“With only a tiny fraction of staff being disciplined or dismissed this raises the question of how seriously local councils take protecting the privacy of the public.”

These articles raise the importance of responsible handling of highly confidential information from staff members.

The Information Commissioner’s Office has issued a range of guidelines for local authorities to ensure councils have all of the correct information for following legislation.

You can also view the Data Protection Act here, from the website

Topwood Ltd have prepared a number of Help guides and PDF download posters to help with the following subjects. Click the links to be taken to the articles on our website.

What is the data protection act?

How to prevent security breaches in the office

Are you staff security vetted?

What is information Security ISO:27001?