In January of this year the BBC reported that Hackney Council had been subjected to a “serious cyber-attack”. This resulted in the publication on the dark web of the personal details of the council staff and residents. In addition, the attack affected the various services Hackney residents relied on, including the council’s ability to process land search requests for those buying property. This, in turn, meant that some of the property purchases of residents fell through because buyers were unable to carry out searches in Hackney and so were unable to get a mortgage.

Sophisticated cyber-attacks on local authorities, such as that suffered by Hackney remain relatively rare. However, it is not at all unusual to come across data breaches committed by local authorities as a result of human error. As a result the highly sensitive and personal data of service users has been disclosed to third parties, often resulting in the data subject suffering a great deal of stress and anxiety.

Social workers hold extremely personal and sensitive material on some of the most disadvantaged members of society. They have a corresponding duty to ensure that such information is kept confidential. And, in the majority of cases, social workers meet this high standard. But regrettably, in recent months we have witnessed a significant increase in the number of clients approaching us in regard to data breaches by social workers.

We have recently advised in cases where data breaches by social workers occurred where extremely private and confidential data was disclosed to:

  • The wrong person
  • The abuser of the person they are trying to help/protect
  • The right person but without redacting the information properly or including details that should not be included

We have witnessed first-hand how devastating it can be to those who have had their personal and sensitive data improperly disclosed to third parties, and we have assisted them in recovering the compensation to which they are entitled.

If you believe your data has been breached by a social worker or an employee of social services please get in touch with one of our solicitors at DRM Legal and we will advise you if you are eligible to bring a claim for compensation.