Southwark Council discards personal data in skip

IT security

Southwark Council discards personal data in skip

Jenny Williams

Southwark Council has escaped a fine after discarding personal data relating to more than 7,000 people in a skip for 18 months, according to the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO).

An Apple iMac computer and some papers containing 7,200 people’s personal information were found in a skip in June 2011 after being discarded in December 2009. Information included names and addresses, ethnic background, medical history and past criminal convictions.

The ICO said the council had information handling and decommissioning policies in place. By failing to follow the policies and encrypt data, the council had breached the Data Protection Act. However, the ICO is unable to issue a fine.  

“The fact that thousands of residents’ personal details went missing for almost two years clearly shows that Southwark Council’s policies for handling personal information are below standard. As this information was lost before the ICO received the power to issue financial penalties, we are unable to consider taking more formal action in this case,” said Sally Anne Poole, acting head of enforcement.

“Southwark Council has committed to putting changes in place and we look forward to completing an audit next year to help it identify further improvements,” she added.

The ICO said Central Essex Community Services has also signed an undertaking after losing a birth book containing personal information about 249 mothers and babies. The organisation failed to keep the book secure in a locked filing cabinet.



Image used courtesy of sindesign under Creative Commons Licensing via Flickr.

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