Renfrewshire Council ‘worst record for data loss’

Renfrewshire Council has the worst record in Scotland for protecting private data, a campaign group claimed.

Big Brother Watch said the council was one of the 10 worst authorities in the UK, with 41 data loss incidents over three years, including lost laptops.

Renfrewshire Council said 12 of the cases involved personal data, three of which included information on children.

However, it said its security measures had prevented these incidents putting the people involved at any risk.

A spokesman for the authority said it took its responsibilities under the Data Protection Act “very seriously”.

He said: “Sensitive information on memory sticks and hard-drives is encrypted and laptops and blackberries are password protected.

“Blackberries are also de-activated immediately they are reported lost.”

Constant review

He added: “It is also important to place these figures in context as not every council has responded to the question from Big Brother Watch in the same way.

“Many of the 41 items listed as missing actually had no data on them, and the list provided also included items such as a camera and a laptop charger.

“Nevertheless we keep our policies under constant review and will carefully consider the information highlighted through the Big Brother Watch survey.”

The figures were obtained by the civil liberties group through Freedom of Information requests, and indicated that private data had been lost by, or stolen from, 132 UK local councils more than 1,000 times since 2008.

Some 263 councils reported no losses, while a further 38 did not respond.

Only 55 incidents were reported to the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) and only nine people lost their jobs as a result, according to the councils which responded.

Other Scottish councils reported fewer cases but in Glasgow two incidents led to disciplinary action, after memory sticks were lost containing data relating to social work clients.