Wokingham council sent personal information to the wrong people 78 times – Get Reading


Personal information was sent from the council to the wrong recipient 78 times in the last five years.

Both physical and electronic communication has been sent to incorrect recipients by Wokingham Borough Council between 2014 and 2019.

Authority bosses stressed not every instance constituted a data breach reportable to the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO), and pointed out the council sent out 1.5 million physical items and 22 million emails in this five-year period.

Council leader John Halsall said: “There were 78 incidents reported – none were serious enough to report to the ICO.

“The reported incidents equate to just 0.0003 per cent of our correspondence.

“At Wokingham Borough Council we take data protection very seriously.

“We have a number of security measures in place to protect personal data such as document markers which are used to identify the sensitivity of data.

“All staff receive regular information governance training to ensure that they handle sensitive information appropriately and choose the correct methods to transfer it to other organisations or individuals.”

Of the 78 instances, the council said some of these included times where individuals have provided the authority with the wrong email or postal address, times where letters were sent to the wrong address but not opened, and times where email attachments containing personal information has been password protected.

The greatest number of instances where personal information was sent to the wrong address came last year, when 27 incidents reported.

Cllr Halsall said the introduction of GDPR had led to greater staff awareness about data protection, and more concerns being reported.

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“The council has methods in place to manage and learn from these problems”

Cllr Imogen Shepherd-DuBey added: “Wokingham Borough Council handles a lot of personal data.

“I know that all of the staff have been made to do GDPR training and they are probably more aware of what they need to report, when it happens.

“The fact that the ICO has chosen not to pursue Wokingham Borough Council in these cases means that they are happy that the council has methods in place to manage and learn from these problems.

“I do think that WBC could do more to protect residents from these accidents, but I am working with the officers involved to push them to improve the measures that are being put in place to improve the situation.”

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