Councils losing personal data four times a day

Date: 2015-09-01

A study by privacy campaign group Big Brother Watch has revealed that councils are losing personal data up to 4 times a day

The published figures showed that 4,236 breaches were committed by local authorities between April 2011 and April 2014; an increase of four times more incidents than the previous 3 year period, when 1,035 breaches were reported.

In many of the cases, a single breach involved the disappearance, theft or inappropriate sharing of the personal information of hundreds or thousands of people.

Despite the large numbers of breaches reported and the increase in incidents, just 1 in 10 resulted in disciplinary action. Big Brother Watch have now proposed a number of recommendations based on the report’s findings; including the introduction of custodial sentences and criminal records for the most serious of data breaches. Other recommendations include mandatory data protection training and standardised reporting of data breaches.

Emma Carr, director of Big Brother Watch, said the findings showed "shockingly lax attitudes to protecting confidential information" and questioned how seriously local councils take protecting the privacy of the public. 

“We fully back any calls to improve data protection training, in any sector,” said Jonathan Richardson, managing director at secure document management specialists, Russell Richardson. “The figures revealed in this survey are particularly shocking as local councils hold increasing amounts of personal data on all of us. They need to be trusted to protect this data in line with the data protection act, including storing and disposing of any data bearing devices or documents appropriately.”

With over 37 years’ experience, Russell Richardson are specialists in providing secure document management and data protection solutions to a variety of sectors; including local authority, financial, legal and healthcare. 

The full report from Big Brother Watch, entitled ‘A Breach of Trust’ can be found here.