More than 1,100 employees at the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) have received official warnings since 2008 for prying into citizens' sensitive benefits records.
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According to The Telegraph, government data states that over the past five years 585 DWP employees have been given a final written warning for prying into personal data. A further 422 workers were given written warnings, and 110 have received verbal warnings for “inappropriate access or browsing of personal/customer records”.
This misuse of DWP computer systems also led to hundreds of staff being issued with warnings over inappropriate emails and abusing internet access, which included accessing porn online.
In total, 1,487 employees have been sacked for violating privacy and internet policies.
“DWP is the biggest government department and over this five-year period we have employed more than 150,000 people, with the vast majority adhering to professional standards,” a DWP spokesman told The Telegraph. “DWP takes inappropriate use of IT systems very seriously, which is why we monitor daily usage and have robust policies in place to deal with the minority of cases of abuse.”
The DWP has also come under fire in recent months over its troubled Universal Credit IT system.
The department has written off over £40.1m worth of IT over a five-year period instead of 15 years as previously planned. The project has also faced criticism from the National Audit Office for not delivering value for money.