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Increases in data protection breaches by Brighton and Hove council
Confidential town hall papers were thrown away in a security breach – after staff forgot to take all the notes out of a filing cabinet before discarding it.
The incident was one of 23 potential data protection breaches reported to bosses by Brighton and Hove City Council staff in the last year.
Among the other incidents, which were revealed in a Freedom of Information request, include nine cases of staff losing laptops with passwords attached to them.
Other reports include council tax forms sent to wrong homes, lost mobile phones and email addresses shared with third parties.
It marked a near six-fold increase in reported incidents, with figures showing there were only four reported breaches in 2011 and six in 2010.
The local authority said the dramatic rise was due to staff being more aware of its responsibilities.
It added no legal actions have been taken against the council in respect of the breaches.
An Argus reader, who made the FOI request, said: “This gives serious cause for concern.
“It should be made known to the people of Brighton and Hove that their council makes losses of personal information.
“I note that no action has ever been taken in response to losses.
“The council need to have the trust of individuals with very personal details and it appears they cannot be relied upon to maintain the privacy of these.”
A council spokesman said: “The number of breaches reported has increased because of awareness-raising and training for staff and managers on the need to report breaches to our internal monitoring managers.
“In the past such things may have gone unnoticed. The fact that information on these breaches by public bodies is now freely available helps to keep it a priority.
“The extent to which private bodies meet such standards would be an interesting debate.
“The main measure being taken to prevent security breaches is continuing this programme of training and awareness.
“It’s something we take seriously and something we need to be constantly working on to keep in everyone’s mind.”
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