Friday, February 12, 2010

Just an oversight ...oh really?

On BBC Radio Lancashire this morning the leader of the council said that failure to register was 'just an oversight' and therefore was no worse than not having a TV licence! (I seem to recall that people get fined for such oversights).

However, if an 'oversight' is acceptable then here is a suggested defence for a Penalty Charge Notice issued by Hyndburn Council:

" A PCN has been issued to my vehicle as I was parked in contravention. However, this was an oversight on my behalf and I can confirm that I have put procedures in place for it not to happen again. Please confirm that the PCN will be cancelled."

East Lancashire councils accused of data protection mix-up
Lancashire Telegraph
Friday 12th February 2010

TWO East Lancashire Councils have been accused of unlawfully processing personal details after a data protection mix-up.
Hyndburn Borough Council and Ribble Valley Borough Council both failed to renew their registrations with the Information Commissioner’s Office register of data controllers.

Any organisation that uses personal information about members of the public must be registered.

It means both councils have committed a criminal offence - and they were only made aware of the lapse when the Lancashire Telegraph informed them this week.

The error means that technically, departments such as council tax, benefits, planning, and housing, should have stopped until the registration was renewed.

A spokesman for Hyndburn Council said: "Due to an administrative oversight on our part the council's registration as a data controller under the Data Protection Act 1998 had lapsed.
“We have taken immediate action to rectify the position and have re-registered with the Information Commission with effect from today.
“We are obviously very sorry that this has happened.
However, we are satisfied that we have sound procedures for handling personal data about our customers, and that the lapse in registration has not prejudiced anyone in any way.
“We have now put in place procedures to ensure that this doesn't happen again.”

A spokesman for Ribble Valley Borough Council said: “The authority is fully registered for data protection with the Information Commissioner’s Office, but our recent renewal notice showed an increase in the cost of our registration from £75 to £1,000 per year. “Understandably, we questioned this significant increase, but following discussions with the ICO we will be paying the invoice.”

A spokesman from the ICO confirmed the councils face prosecution if they do not renew and could be fined in court.
She said: “Under the Data Protection Act organisations that process personal information have a statutory requirement to notify the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) that they are a data controller. Failure to do so is a criminal offence.”

Neil Herron, spokesman for ‘unofficial parking watchdog’ the Motorists Legal Challenge Fund, said: “It’s refreshing to see a full and frank admission. However, the consequences will now be for others to decide, including members of the public. Their data, including parking tickets, has been processed illegally.”

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