Council signs up to data ‘promise’

SCOTTISH Borders Council has launched a new campaign to raise awareness of the importance of looking after information.

The council itself was hit with a £250,000 fine from the Information Commissioner’s Office in September last year after a contractor failed to correctly dispose of more than 800 confidential files, which were discovered at a supermarket recycling bank in West Lothian.

The campaign, entitled ‘Think Information’, is part of the council’s information management project which aims to improve and strengthen the safeguards it has around the information it collects, holds and uses.

As part of the campaign council leader, Councillor David Parker and chief executive Tracey Logan signed up to the Personal Information Promise with the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO).

The document outlines 10 promises which the council has voluntarily shown it is committed to keeping as part of its role as a public authority.

The campaign has five strands – Think Privacy, Security, Accuracy, Transparency and Efficiency. As part of the scheme a series of awareness activities will take place across the council over the coming months.

Tracey Logan explained: “Data security and accurate information are key principles of our approach to information management.

“To ensure we follow these principles we have a range of policies and strategies in place. Through this project, we aim to ensure these principles are applied diligently throughout the organisation in an efficient way and with customer service, effective governance and transparency at their core.

“We are rolling out a series of additional training programmes, materials and activities which aim to give staff the information and knowledge they require as part of their role as an employee of the council.”

David Parker added: “This promise is our way of showing the people of the Borders that we are absolutely committed to ensuring we protect their information.

“Data and information are at the core of the council’s business and this data and information are collected, processed and published using a variety of methods and are held in various formats.

“Through this project, we want to ensure all SBC staff are fully aware of their legal responsibilities for making sure information is looked after correctly.

“We also hope to use this campaign to raise awareness of information management among our residents and will be making information available to Borderers over the coming months as well as our staff.”

A three-day hearing will be held in late March into the council’s appeal against the ICO’s £250,000 fine.