Waaaaah! It’s Not Fair!

Croydon Council has been hit with a £100k fine after it failed to keep details of a child sex abuse victim secure.

The breach happened in April 2011 when an unlocked bag belonging to a social worker was stolen from a London pub.

Oh, good grief!

The worker was taking papers, including information about the sexual abuse of a child and six other people connected to a court hearing, home for use at a meeting the following day.

Bang to rights! Abject apologies, maybe even a sacking?

No. You see, Croydon Council feels the punishment is too harsh. Yes, really…

Croydon Council said it was exploring the possibility of appealing the “wholly disproportionate” fine and added it was “perplexed and frustrated” by the investigation.

You think when your member of staff takes sensitive data home and then loses it, there shouldn’t be an investigation?

An investigation by the Information Commissioner’s Office found that while Croydon Council did have data protection guidance available at the time of the theft, it was not “actively communicated to staff” and the council had failed to monitor whether it had been read and understood.


Mind you, this is Croydon staff we’re talking about. Perhaps they should have produced it in cartoon format?

The council’s policy on data security was also inadequate and did not stipulate how sensitive information should be kept secure when taken outside of the office.


So, why do Croydon Council think this is unfair?

A spokesman for the council said: “Although we already have extensive procedures and protocols that should have prevented this situation arising, some of which appear not to have been taken into account by the Commissioner, we are now taking further steps.“However, the council is perplexed and frustrated by the Commissioner’s general criticism of our Data Protection and information handling guidance, as many of our internal measures and policies appear to have been disregarded in reaching this judgement.

“The council also believes, having taken advice, that the level of fine is wholly disproportionate to the breach.

“We are therefore considering whether there are grounds for appealing against what we believe to be an excessive and unjustifiable amount.”

And if you lose, well, hey, it’s only taxpayers money, after all, isn’t it?

7 comments for “Waaaaah! It’s Not Fair!

  1. Mudplugger
    February 24, 2012 at 8:36 am

    The only way that any ‘fines’ against corporate bodies could have any impact at all would be if the amounts were charged personally to all the executive board members of that organisation, be it public or private. That’s accountability.

    And it would concentrate minds wonderfully.

    • James Strong
      February 24, 2012 at 11:16 am

      Mudplugger is right.

      A fine imposed on Croydon Council is a fine on the council-tax payers, it is not directed at the wrongdoers.

      Either fine them personally or send them to prison for a week; not long, just enough to shame and humiliate them so others don’t do the same.

    • February 24, 2012 at 2:10 pm

      charged personally to all the executive board members of that organisation

      Yep, agreed.

      • February 25, 2012 at 7:16 am


  2. February 24, 2012 at 2:28 pm

    I have some mixed feelings here. Certainly data should be adequately protected, which this wasn’t.
    But on the other hand in this case it wasn’t ‘lost either, it was stolen, which is a criminal act. Is it now a crime to be a victim of crime or to place oneself in a position where one could potentially become a victim? In which case where is the line to be drawn? Is one to be prosecuted if the office window is left open for example?
    Equally sensible would be that the thief should face higher penalties for stealing sensitive data.

    • February 25, 2012 at 7:18 am

      “Is it now a crime to be a victim of crime or to place oneself in a position where one could potentially become a victim?”

      This member of staff wasn’t someone who lost her mobile. She had data that she had a statutory duty to safeguard – data that belongs to someone else, not to her, or to the council – stolen because she broke the rules meant to safeguard it.

  3. Able
    February 24, 2012 at 5:20 pm

    I believe the operative words here are “social worker”.

    Social workers are the elite! Are all beyond reproach and even when caught either not doing the job they are paid so munificently for, ignoring guidelines and legal requirements, faking so called ‘investigations’ and leaving vulnerable people and children in appalling conditions as long as it fits with their ideologically biased views, it’s always swept under the carpet.

    “Bang to rights! Abject apologies, maybe even a sacking?”

    Oh please! The social worker involved will be, and I’m willing to put money on it, promoted in a short while, just you watch! (and yes I’m speaking from experience)

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