A small yet significant number of local authorities are ‘struggling’ to prevent the loss of sensitive data, according to a freedom of information (FoI) request.
The FoI, submitted to the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) by Zurich Municipal, revealed a total of 625 cases in 2015 where a council faced a complaint of breaching the Data Protection Act.
In more than one third (34%) of completed cases, the local authority was given specific instructions on what needed to be changed or improved.
In 108 cases, for example, the local authority was asked to address the complainant’s specific concerns, and in 28 cases the ICO issued general advice on how to improve services.
Paul Tombs, the head of public services at Zurich Municipal, the public sector insurer who submitted the FoI request, said: ‘Local authorities are responsible for managing and processing a large volume of data, including sensitive information, and are continuing to do so against a challenging backdrop of squeezed budgets and limited resources.
‘As local authorities rightly focus on transforming service provision with a general move to on-line and self-service, they must ensure robust review of their data protection plans and ensure these are still fit for purpose.’
‘This research shows that a small yet significant number of councils are struggling to manage their data protection processes,’ he added.
This follows the recent revelation that councils reported 14% more security breaches over the last 12 months than the previous year.
Figures compiled by Huntsman Security showed data accidentally disclosed in error accounted for 64% of all reported breaches in this time period.