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Woman prosecuted for social services data breach

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A woman has prosecuted for accessing social care records without authorisation. Michelle Shipsey, a former social services support officer at Dorset County Council, accessed the records of four people she knew without any business need to do so. She also gave the details to parents at their children's school. Following the social services data breach, an internal investigation was launched by Dorset County Council. However, no further action was taken at this time as the woman then resigned from the council.

Appearing before Poole Magistrates' Court, Ms Shipsey was sentenced to a 6-month conditional discharge, ordered to pay costs of £700 and a victim surcharge of £20.

The ICO sends a clear warning

Commenting on the privacy violation, Hazel Padmore, head of investigations at the Information Commissioner's Office said:

"Individuals accessing social services support are often already in a vulnerable position and have the absolute right to expect their dealings are treated with the utmost respect and in accordance with data protection laws.

"Although new to the role, Shipsey had undertaken both data protection and cyber security training and therefore was acutely aware of the responsibilities she had towards maintaining client confidentiality.

"Our successful prosecution of this individual sends a clear message, that we will take action against individuals who take it upon themselves to abuse their position of trust".

Lessons learned following social services data breach

The Data Protection Act exists to protect the privacy of individuals. And, this case should remind people that they could face criminal prosecution and fines if they access or share personal data without a legal reason.

At Hayes Connor Solicitors, we see many different types of claims and understand how data breaches can affect people in different ways.

Helping to reduce the number of data violations taking place across the UK, we are sharing such real-life examples of data protection breaches to raise awareness of this issue and educate people to prevent similar instances from happening.

For more advice on how to keep your data safe, follow the Hayes Connor #NotJustHackers campaign onTwitterandFacebook.

Alternatively, if you have been the victim of a data breach, find out how we can help you to recover any lossesor contact us to discuss your case in more depth.