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Council fined £145,000 after serious data breach

Newham Council has been fined £145,000 by the Information Commissioners Office (ICO) after sensitive data on alleged gang membership was shared by its Youth Offending team.

Whilst the team was frequently sharing a redacted list the Metropolitan Police’s “gang matrix” with council departments and other organisations, in January 2017 a YOT manager shared an unredacted version which included personal details including names, nicknames and addresses of 203 people nearly half of whom were either no longer involved in gang membership or simply victims of gang crime.

Of particular concern was the fact that the information found its way into the gang community with details shared amongst gang members via Snapchat. This was then then linked to a spate of gang violence, including murder, with victims amongst those featured on the list.

The Council was also reprimanded for failing to report the breach to the ICO and for having no policy or written procedures in place regarding the handling of the data.

Mayor, Rokhsana Fiaz, apologised for the breach saying

"On behalf of Newham Council I accept the seriousness of the unredacted gangs matrix list being distributed on this single occasion in January 2017 and am sorry that it happened. While there were information sharing protocols in place at the time, clearly they could have been better.

Since becoming mayor in May last year, I have been embedding an enhanced culture of safeguarding across the organisation and this includes the internal control of sensitive safeguarding data in line with ICO requirements and new data protection regimes.”