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A former Wiltshire Council social worker has reportedly been taken to court over a “serious breach of trust”, having been found to have accessed sensitive information without reason or authorisation.
As a social worker, the individual in question was granted certain data access privileges. It has been reported by the Gazette and Herald that she abused her position in a way that could have put the privacy and safety of vulnerable people at risk.
Social workers naturally have a high level of trust invested in them, so it is understandable that there is a no-tolerance policy for any employees who breach this trust. Social services data breaches like this can have severe consequences for those affected, particularly where vulnerable minors are involved, as their personal details often must be kept under highly restricted access in order to protect them from abusive adults. We represent people for these kinds of cases quite a lot. As such, it is essential that anyone who threatens to compromise the need for data protection is punished accordingly.
The Salisbury Crown Court is understood to have heard in April that the former Wiltshire Council social worker had accessed personal data without authorisation to do so. While social workers are granted permissions to view some personal data for casework reasons, the perpetrator violated this allowance by accessing information without a legitimate, work-related justification.
The Wiltshire Council social worker was found guilty of multiple offences under the Computer Misuse Act and has been subjected to a ten-month prison sentence that has been suspended for a period of two years. The judge stated that there was “no room in the social work field for those who cannot be trusted”, according to the Gazette and Herald.
The council were reportedly efficient in taking action when suspicions were raised, reporting the matter to the police, after which a criminal investigation began. Within Wiltshire Council, the former social worker also faced disciplinary action, which unsurprisingly resulted in her dismissal.
A representative of Wiltshire Council said that such actions constituted “a complete dereliction of duty”. The Wiltshire Police shared similar sentiments, explaining that: “The office of social worker is one on which vulnerable people and children in society should be able to depend”.
There are multiple potential risks to the safety and well-being of people in the care of the local authority, which makes the protection of information in this sector even more vital for social services. Children in care are often relocated for their own safety, so it is essential that their personal details are never at risk of exposure.
As such, where social services data breaches do occur, there can be serious consequences. We have represented clients in relation to incidents in which the errors or breaches of duty of social workers or council staff have resulted in data exposure. At Your Lawyers, as leading specialist GDPR claim solicitors, we can help those who have fallen victim to such incidents to assert their rights and claim the compensation they deserve.
If you think you may have a compensation claim to make, you can contact our expert team for free, no-obligation advice on your case.
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