Our Local Authorities aim to provide services and support to families and individuals through a range of different departments. Social Services is one such department and provides an essential support service to families in need.
People working in the Social Services sector, have a duty to protect vulnerable adults and children. This is because these groups may require intervention because they are facing challenging personal circumstances.
There has been a sharp increase in reports of domestic violence during the current coronavirus pandemic. As a result of lockdown, our everyday freedom of movement has been curtailed and restricted which means that many families are spending more time together at home. This is not always positive, and unfortunately reports of domestic abuse have increased.
The current pandemic has meant that many organisations, including Social Services, are under increased pressure to provide extra assistance.
Given the nature of the support provided by Social Services, it is very important that employees are well-trained in data protection.But in our experience, Social Services are not handling its users personal data with the care that it deserves.
DRM Legal has assisted many individuals whose personal data has been breached in one way or another by Social Services.
Some examples of Social Services data breaches include:
- Social Services arrange for the postal delivery of a confidential report or assessment but do not instruct the courier to obtain a signature from the recipient. This can result in the loss of confidential documents.
- When Social Services send reports containing extremely sensitive information to the wrong address. This can happen when an employee has not been trained sufficiently on the computer system.
- Where Social Services accidentally send documents containing serious allegations of criminality to the accused person. We have assisted several clients in this situation and our experience tells us that this is often a result of human error and poor data management processes.
- When Social Services record data incorrectly and as a result an individual is denied or delayed certain benefits or privileges.
- If Social Services send documents being relied on in family court proceedings to the wrong party.
- When Social Services disclose address details of individuals seeking refuge to a person who should not know this protected information. Extra security processes should have been imposed before such sensitive documents were dispatched.
These are just a few examples of some of the scenarios with which we have assisted our clients. This type of data breach is rarely reported in the news (to reduce further privacy damage to those involved) however they continue to regularly occur.