‘Limited assurance’ about data safeguarding at Redbridge Council

There are concerns about the safeguarding of data at Redbridge Council after the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) conducted an audit into the council’s data protection processes.

In the audit, the ICO gave the council an overall rating of ‘limited assurance’ after finding that it had a corporate subject compliance rate of just 49%, which it called “unacceptable”. It said this was partly due to a lack of centralised logging and reporting.

The ICO also found that Redbridge has no key performance indicators to establish targets for data protection training completion or subject access compliance and had not appointed a corporate information security manager.

It also found that the council fails to conduct privacy impact assessments when it introduces new systems for processing personal data or makes changes to existing data.

However, the ICO also found a number of areas of good practice. For example, completion of the mandatory DPA e-learning increased from 43% to 89% of the workforce between 5 February and 22 April 2016. The council encrypts all laptops and USB devices and uses whitelisting to ensure that only approved devices can connect to its network.

It uses a ‘Master ICT Systems Heatmap’ to document all ICT systems and feeds into the information risk management process. Business support staff and social workers in children’s services had also held workshops to increase the volume of subject access responses.

In response, Redbridge Council said: “We take our responsibilities in relation to information governance very seriously and we have a robust process for dealing with incidents and complaints.”

The ICO is also reviewing Trafford Council over shortcomings in its responses to Freedom of Information requests.

Research by Big Brother Watch last year found that councils breach data protection laws an average of four times a day.

The West Yorkshire Combined Authority has also been warned over data protection issues in its new smart ticketing system.

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