Beds, Herts & Bucks

Buckinghamshire one of 'worst offenders' for data loss

Buckinghamshire County Council has topped a list of UK councils which have had private data lost or stolen.

A survey by civil rights group Big Brother Watch showed it had recorded 72 cases involving the council in the past three years.

In one case, about 2,000 email addresses were revealed in a public mailshot.

The council said that the report was "inaccurate" because not all local authorities record data breaches.

The number of incidents, which equals those of Kent County Council, were discovered when Big Brother Watch made a Freedom of Information request to 434 local authorities.

It was discovered that 132 of them had lost sensitive information in at least 1,035 separate incidents.

'Report inaccurate'

Incidents in Buckinghamshire included a file containing sensitive personal data being left at an airport by an adoption worker and a disk containing data on vulnerable children being left in a hard drive when a computer was taken away to be replaced.

There were also nine records of laptops, briefcases or mobile devices being lost or stolen.

The council said it was not among the "worst offenders" because it recorded every data breach, whereas many local authorities did not record any.

Peter Cartwright, responsible for finance and resources, said: "Of the 72 data breaches cited, 68 were minor breaches.

"We share Big Brother Watch's concern that many local authorities reported no incidents, suggesting very varied reporting thresholds, and we should not be criticised for being fastidious.

"It is evidence of the transparency Buckinghamshire demonstrates in recording data breaches, and is one reason why the Information Commissioner's Office recognises us as an example of an authority which has worked with them to demonstrate good compliance and procedures."

Nick Pickles, director of Big Brother Watch, said: "Buckinghamshire has come out top of this list and while they should be applauded for their honesty I think we have to still realise that some of the information that was disclosed is of a hugely sensitive nature."

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