In the wake of the ongoing saga over how disability benefit funds are allocated, Channel 4’s Dispatches program launched an undercover investigation in to what really goes on when applicants are assessed for help.
What they discovered was shocking – amongst the footage and evidence gathered, which showed disgraceful and unfeeling abuse from assessors who were caught red handed admitting to poor practice, was one assessor admitting that he takes photos of applications to prove he has done them so he can get paid for his work.
This is a serious and intentional breach of the Data Protection Act.
We are extremely shocked to learn that this sort of practice has been taking place. The information contained within applications is highly confidential and sensitive, and should never be photographed and / or taken externally in any form of unsecure and unofficial format.
Usually organisations have specific rules to address this and ensure that information is not leaked so carelessly. In this case it appears the assessor, an employee of outsourcing giants Capita who hold the contracts for assessments, has put his income before the rights of the applicants whose personal and private information can no longer be determined as absolutely secure.
In a word from our team:
“This is a clear breach of the Data Protection Act in circumstances that are already upsetting in light of proposed government reforms. No employee or agent has the right to risk a person’s right to privacy by taking images of their information at all, and on unsecure mediums.”
We have seen how easy it is for information to fall in to the wrong hands; especially when it is in no way secure. Taking sensitive information outside of the office has put the victims at risk of their personal information being leaked. It’s shocking to learn that this has been going on, especially in the aftermath of reforms which have concerned a lot of people claiming disability benefits.
This story also leads to an additional concern that needs addressing immediately as well: if the assessor was taking images as proof of his work then why was no one at Capita stopping him when they discovered what was going on?
In a final comment from our team:
“Why hasn’t he been stopped by his employers? If he is showing images of applications he has done to his superiors as evidence that he has conducted the work, then why where they not taking action and stopping this from happening? Surely an international company like Capita know he shouldn’t be doing that, and know their responsibilities to the people they engage with!?”
IMPORTANT: advice on this page is intended to be up-to-date for the 'first published date'.
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