Confidential information on show

A MAN has told the Hillingdon Times how he was able to clearly see confidential information about vulnerable people through a window at Hillingdon Council.

The father-of-two said he was walking past the Social Services department at the Civic Centre when he saw the information.

The Uxbridge resident, who asked not to be named, said: “I was delivering a letter to the Civic Centre and as I walked past some windows I noticed it was quite messy and that’s what caught my eye.

“It wasn’t as if I went there purposely to look. It is open for anyone to walk past and anyone could have seen it.

“I could see clearly in through the window. There were no blinds or anything shielding the view through the window.”

The pictures were taken from a camera phone and names, date of births and transcripts of conversations can be seen in them.

He added: “After I thought about it, I thought it might have just been a one-off so I went back the next weekend with my friend and it was the same.

“This is information about vulnerable people which was on show. It could have been a peadophile who had seen it and tracked the kids down.

“The issue is that they are left lying around and not locked away. Who is going to get told about, are the staff going to start clearing them away?

“You have trust in these people and think of them as a responsible authority, but this is the way they treat confidential information.

“You would be mortified if you walked past there and saw that there was a psychiatric report being done on someone you know. It is not information that should be in the public domain.”

Fran Beasley, deputy chief executive, said: “I would like to reassure residents that we have taken immediate action to ensure such an incident does not happen again.

"We take such matters extremely seriously and have completed a thorough investigation into this incident and taken immediate steps to move any personal documents away from windows. In addition, we are also installing reflective film on all relevant ground floor windows to prevent anyone from looking through into private offices.

“Staff have been reminded about their duty to take care of files and documents so that they are stored securely.

“As parts of our building are open to residents and information such as planning applications are made freely available, it is important that we balance the needs of our residents with any additional security measures that we put in place.”

Comments (6)

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9:02am Fri 19 Sep 08

h1ghflyer says...

I have to say I'm not suprised at this display of competance by Hillingdon council,nor this pathetic response to such a serious issue.

This attempt to play down the incident by comparing the Social Service documents to Planning applications demonstrates a complete and utter contempt for the intelligence of Hillingdon residents.

I for one will be writing to my MP Mr Randall over this issue. Reminding staff they have to obey what is ostensibly the law, please!

I'll remind the next hoody I see to stop robbing from the local shop, that'll do the trick! When will these council staff realise they are accountable for their failings? When Hillingdon residents have had enough, that time has come.
I have to say I'm not suprised at this display of competance by Hillingdon council,nor this pathetic response to such a serious issue. This attempt to play down the incident by comparing the Social Service documents to Planning applications demonstrates a complete and utter contempt for the intelligence of Hillingdon residents. I for one will be writing to my MP Mr Randall over this issue. Reminding staff they have to obey what is ostensibly the law, please! I'll remind the next hoody I see to stop robbing from the local shop, that'll do the trick! When will these council staff realise they are accountable for their failings? When Hillingdon residents have had enough, that time has come. h1ghflyer
  • Score: 0

9:20am Fri 19 Sep 08

Justlaw says...

This Fran Beasley at Hillingdon Council should know better, she was once a Social Worker. (God knows what is in store now for Hillingdon!) She knows the law when it comes to social worker files. Yet still she delivers a line to downplay the importance of what has happened.

Now Hillingdon Council has completed their investigation into this breach, is this report going to be made public? Are those service users who have been affected been contacted, with at least an apology?

Personally if it was me, and Hillingdon Social Services had compromised my security and the safety of my children, I would be speaking to my solicitor with a view to taking action.

I hope all of the people who have had any recent dealings with Hllingdon Council Social services dept, write and demand answers and an explaination.

One final question, did Hillingdon Council ever manage to speak to the gentleman who exposed this outrageous practice? If not then how can they have completed their investigation?
This Fran Beasley at Hillingdon Council should know better, she was once a Social Worker. (God knows what is in store now for Hillingdon!) She knows the law when it comes to social worker files. Yet still she delivers a line to downplay the importance of what has happened. Now Hillingdon Council has completed their investigation into this breach, is this report going to be made public? Are those service users who have been affected been contacted, with at least an apology? Personally if it was me, and Hillingdon Social Services had compromised my security and the safety of my children, I would be speaking to my solicitor with a view to taking action. I hope all of the people who have had any recent dealings with Hllingdon Council Social services dept, write and demand answers and an explaination. One final question, did Hillingdon Council ever manage to speak to the gentleman who exposed this outrageous practice? If not then how can they have completed their investigation? Justlaw
  • Score: 0

9:31am Fri 19 Sep 08

Mark Hodges says...

Funny, I was in the planning office the other day, I didn't see any vulnerable chilren or their files. Nor did I see any documents I shouldn't! I was met at the front and shown the documents I had come to see.

What utter poppycock that the councl needs to balance the needs of residents with the security of their personal data! If Fran beasley thinks people just wander around the civic center and that's ok, she should be looking for a new job.

It happens all too often with these government depts, free and easy with other peoples information.

I agree with Justlaw that people who have had recent contact with Hillingdon Social servives should be writing for answers or contacting their local solicitors. Crimes like this should not go unanswered.

I was shocked when I read this story, but what made it worse for me was the dismissive response from the council. 'We take it extremely serously' result- 'we remind staff to look after files'

That doesn't sound very serious to me!
Funny, I was in the planning office the other day, I didn't see any vulnerable chilren or their files. Nor did I see any documents I shouldn't! I was met at the front and shown the documents I had come to see. What utter poppycock that the councl needs to balance the needs of residents with the security of their personal data! If Fran beasley thinks people just wander around the civic center and that's ok, she should be looking for a new job. It happens all too often with these government depts, free and easy with other peoples information. I agree with Justlaw that people who have had recent contact with Hillingdon Social servives should be writing for answers or contacting their local solicitors. Crimes like this should not go unanswered. I was shocked when I read this story, but what made it worse for me was the dismissive response from the council. 'We take it extremely serously' result- 'we remind staff to look after files' That doesn't sound very serious to me! Mark Hodges
  • Score: 0

4:03pm Fri 19 Sep 08

Justlaw says...

The following is taken directly from the Hillingdon Social services website; it is very clear about the confidential nature of the service users.It is clear breach of this duty is a disciplinary matter. So Fran Beasely, who has been disciplined?

https://www.hillingd
on.gov.uk/index.jsp?
articleid=15032


Confidentiality
As with all employees of the Social Services Department, you are in a position of trust. This is particularly important when you have access to personal client information.

It is important that you understand how the following relates to the way in which you carry out your work:

It is expected that all staff understand the importance of treating information in a discreet and confidential manner.
That written records and correspondence must be kept securely at all times when not being used by a member of staff.
Information regarding clients must not be disclosed to unauthorised persons, especially not to other clients.
Information about clients must not be given to unknown third parties – not in writing, nor by telephone.
Do not discuss clients in public. e.g. at the shops or on transport etc.
Any breach of confidentiality may be regarded as misconduct and subject to disciplinary action.
If you are in any doubt about confidentiality, please contact your Home Care Organiser or Manager.

The following is taken directly from the Hillingdon Social services website; it is very clear about the confidential nature of the service users.It is clear breach of this duty is a disciplinary matter. So Fran Beasely, who has been disciplined? https://www.hillingd on.gov.uk/index.jsp? articleid=15032 Confidentiality As with all employees of the Social Services Department, you are in a position of trust. This is particularly important when you have access to personal client information. It is important that you understand how the following relates to the way in which you carry out your work: It is expected that all staff understand the importance of treating information in a discreet and confidential manner. That written records and correspondence must be kept securely at all times when not being used by a member of staff. Information regarding clients must not be disclosed to unauthorised persons, especially not to other clients. Information about clients must not be given to unknown third parties – not in writing, nor by telephone. Do not discuss clients in public. e.g. at the shops or on transport etc. Any breach of confidentiality may be regarded as misconduct and subject to disciplinary action. If you are in any doubt about confidentiality, please contact your Home Care Organiser or Manager. Justlaw
  • Score: 0

7:51pm Fri 19 Sep 08

JonD says...

Hillingdon Council do not say if they had disciplined anyone over this matters, as said above it may be regarded as misconduct, note the word 'may' - thats called a get out clause. I have been in the Civic Centre many times over the years and they clearly do not have a clear desk policy at the end of a day's work. I was applying for a sports membership card and was sat in the middle of a department with PC's on, no screensavers and no one appeared to be too bothered that a member of public was sat amongst them and for about 15 mins. was not supervised or chaperoned. Security of personal data is so big in the news and the council must do better, not just the department discovered in this story.
Hillingdon Council do not say if they had disciplined anyone over this matters, as said above it may be regarded as misconduct, note the word 'may' - thats called a get out clause. I have been in the Civic Centre many times over the years and they clearly do not have a clear desk policy at the end of a day's work. I was applying for a sports membership card and was sat in the middle of a department with PC's on, no screensavers and no one appeared to be too bothered that a member of public was sat amongst them and for about 15 mins. was not supervised or chaperoned. Security of personal data is so big in the news and the council must do better, not just the department discovered in this story. JonD
  • Score: 0

4:54pm Mon 22 Sep 08

Justlaw says...

Where there is smoke, there is fire. Despite the protests by Hillingdon's chief executive that the council take Data Protection seriously, it is clearly not the case. In July of this year Hillingdon Council social service's recieved an inspection. While they were roundly criticised, the following is of particular interest;

"1.6 Making sure that people’s privacy and confidentiality are respected
Systems were not in place to fully assure individual’s privacy and confidentiality in case recording.
Case files showed no evidence of data protection forms being signed by people who use services.
There were some lapses in regards to practice in respect of confidentiality and privacy. Greater care needed to be taken in the sharing and recording of personal information on files. We found some instances where other peoples’ personal details were placed on individual files."

http://www.csci.org.
uk/pdf/20080627%20Hi
llingdon%20IWC%20Rep
ort%20FINAL2.pdf

I wonder, were the staff reminded about the importance of data protection that time also?
Where there is smoke, there is fire. Despite the protests by Hillingdon's chief executive that the council take Data Protection seriously, it is clearly not the case. In July of this year Hillingdon Council social service's recieved an inspection. While they were roundly criticised, the following is of particular interest; "1.6 Making sure that people’s privacy and confidentiality are respected Systems were not in place to fully assure individual’s privacy and confidentiality in case recording. Case files showed no evidence of data protection forms being signed by people who use services. There were some lapses in regards to practice in respect of confidentiality and privacy. Greater care needed to be taken in the sharing and recording of personal information on files. We found some instances where other peoples’ personal details were placed on individual files." http://www.csci.org. uk/pdf/20080627%20Hi llingdon%20IWC%20Rep ort%20FINAL2.pdf I wonder, were the staff reminded about the importance of data protection that time also? Justlaw
  • Score: 0
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