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Departmental Data Protection

Volume 494: debated on Monday 22 June 2009

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions how many officials in (a) her Department and (b) its agencies have been (i) disciplined and (ii) dismissed for (A) breaches of data protection requirements and (B) inappropriate use of personal or sensitive data in the last 12 months. (278724)

Information is a key asset and its correct handling is vital to the delivery of public services and to the integrity of the Government. The Department for Work and Pensions adheres to the Security Policy Framework and the Data Handling Report produced by the Cabinet Office. These provide a strategic framework for protecting information that Government handle and put in place measures to ensure tight security.

Information on the number of people disciplined and dismissed for breaches of data protection requirements and inappropriate use of personal or sensitive data are not available in the format requested and could be provided only at disproportionate cost.

The Department records cases under the broad heading of disclosure of information but this is not broken down further. The information provided in the table records the number of staff disciplined under the broad heading of disclosure of information in the last 12 months.

Disciplined

Jobcentre Plus

16

The Pension Disability and Carers Service

25

Corporate Centre

1—

1 The Department’s policy is not to publish data where five or fewer individuals are concerned because it might be possible to identify those employees.

If staff are found to have been responsible for a breach of data security procedures disciplinary action will be taken for serious or gross misconduct. Depending on the circumstances of the case deliberate unauthorised access to information is classified as serious misconduct which normally carries a penalty of a final written warning. If it is classified as gross misconduct it could lead to termination of employment. Persistent unauthorised access to or use of information is classified as gross misconduct which normally carries a penalty of dismissal.