24th July 2019

HMCTS has confirmed in its most recent annual report that there were five personal data-related incidents that were reported to the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) last year.

Included within the report was the following incidents:-

On 13 March 2018 HMCTS disclosed sensitive information to someone requesting information relating to a neighbour’s previous convictions. The report says:

‘A junior member of staff responded via email that the data subject had been convicted on 3 May 2002 but that such conviction was now spent since May 2007. The nature of the offence was neither confirmed or denied. However, the implied confirmation may have re-enforced the enquirer’s view that offences of this nature were involved. This was a breach of the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act 1974.’

Another incident occurred on 1 May 2018 when an application for an adoption hearing was disclosed to the birth mother, which contained the adoptees’ names and addresses. Two people were potentially affected. The ICO took no action ‘noting that the incident was due to human error’.

Furthermore on 12 June 2018, HMCTS issued two court notices to an incorrect address. The report says: ‘Both court notices contained name, date of birth, account/case references of the data subject. The first document also contained details of the offence. The offence was “distributing an indecent photograph or pseudo-photograph of a child”. One person was potentially affected. The incident was dealt with through the formal HMCTS complaints process.’

The above examples evidence what we believe to be a rise in the number of reported data breaches occurring in the UK. Incidents such as those which occurred above serve as a further stark warning of the importance in ensuring you have measures in place to ensure data is protected.

At Ben Hoare Bell LLP we have significant experience in data protection.  If you wish to discuss a data breach please contact our Solicitors Richard Hardy richardhardy@benhoarebell.co.uk or Andrew Freckleton andrewfreckleton@benhoarebell.co.uk to discuss further.