Northamptonshire County Council breached confidential data nine times in three years

Northamptonshire County Council breached personal data on nine occasions between 2011 and 2014. NNL-140730-154759001
Northamptonshire County Council breached personal data on nine occasions between 2011 and 2014. NNL-140730-154759001

A privacy protection group has revealed Northamptonshire County Council breached confidential information, including “police information” on nine occasions between 2011 and 2014.

A report released by the Big Brother Watch reveals the scale of data breaches by local councils across the country, including personal information being lost, stolen or used inappropriately.

The data, obtained under the Freedom of Information Act, shows Northamptonshire County Council released confidential information to a third party on nine occasions in that time.

The results show that one of those incidents related to “police information” and that the member of staff responsible was only given a warning.

Director of Big Brother Watch, Emma Carr, said: “Despite local councils being trusted with increasing amounts of our personal data, this report highlights that they are simply not able to say it is safe with them.

“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.”

In the three year period 4,326 data breaches occurred in local councils, including at least 401 instances of data loss or theft, 628 instances of incorrect or inappropriate data being shared on emails, letters and faxes and 5,293 letters being sent to the wrong address or containing personal information not intended for the recipient.

Among the worst offending councils Kingston Upon Thames breached sensitive data on 80 occasions.

Northampton Borough Council, East Northamptonshire Council and South Northamptonshire Council showed no data breaches during that time.

Daventry District Council however, supplied Big brother Watch with greater detail as to its six data breaches.

On one occasion seven planning applications on an “unencrypted CD,” went missing, though the authority says this contained information available in the public domain anyway.

On another occasion bank account details were “released to another customer residing at the same address as bank holder.”

And on another a third party’s passport was left on a photocopier.

Measures were put in place to prevent a repeat of each incident according to the council.

Across the country the report shows 97 mobile phones, computers, tablets and USBs were either lost or stolen during the three year period.

In one resulting court case, a Southampton Council employee was prosecuted for transferring “highly sensitive data to his personal email account.”