Helping the mentally or physically ill, the elderly & the poor to fight Council PCNs. Writing about blunders, democracy and profligacy at Barnet Council.
23 May 2012
Special warblings - The omnidatashambles
the latest in a long line of Mayors - Brian Schama
Nikki P.A. to Nick Sent: 18 May 2012 15:42 To:
AllStaff Subject: Weekly Message from the Chief
Executive99% of staff probably hit delete when this lands in their inbox
Tuesday evening was Annual Council
meeting. Cllr Schama was confirmed as Mayor for the Municipal Year 2012-13. The
mayoralty remains a significant part of life here in Barnet undertaking hundreds
of visits to groups, special events and representing the Borough at London wide
events. Given that this is Jubilee and Olympic Year I’d expect Cllr Schama to
have an even busier schedule than usual. Mr Mustard expects that Cllr Schama will be a good mayor and his only concern that Cllr Schama has high standards of what he expects from officers and the time available for him to bring his non-nonsense commonsense why aren't we walking before we try to run view to committee meetings will be much limited.
Alongside the ceremonial aspects of
Annual Council there is also important political business to transact as
appointments for the coming year are confirmed. The only substantial change to
the Cabinet was that Cllr Dean Cohen replaces Cllr Brian Coleman as Cabinet
Member for Environment. Cllr Coleman has in turn been appointed Chair of the
Budget and Performance Overview and Scrutiny Committee. Why the chairman gets £15,333 for chairing that will be the subject of a future blog.
The Opposition Labour Group also
nominates a Shadow Cabinet and there have been more changes here. Cllr Cooke
becomes Shadow Cabinet Member for Resources, Cllr Houston becomes Shadow Cabinet Member
for Children and Education, Cllr Schneiderman becomes Shadow Cabinet Member for
Environment, Cllr Brodkin becomes Shadow Cabinet Member for Crime and Policing and Cllr
Julie Johnson Shadow becomes Cabinet Member for Housing and Regeneration. A little table would have been easier presentation to absorb.
You can find more details about
Committee Memberships on the Council and Democracy pages of the
website. But not about allowances which are more deeply buried.
However Annual Council is really all
about the mayoralty and the outgoing Mayor spoke with pride about her time in
office. Amongst the many highlights she outlined was a day when she had visited
places of worship representative of every major faith. Her pride and the
on-going enthusiasm of a very diverse community for civic recognition were
obvious for all to see. Longer than the longest Oscar speech to all accounts.
And of course in the background are
our outstanding Mayoral Team, the Mayor’s drivers, including the never flustered
Lewis, and the admin team led by Angela. The out-going Mayor thanked them for
their support and I wanted to join her in doing so this week. Finding a way
through the protocols, diary clashes and traffic can be a nightmare but the team
do it extremely well.
Some of you will have seen news
coverage that the Council has been fined £70k by the Information Commissioner
for a breach of the OPA. OPA? Don't you read anything Nick or is your P.A. not conversant with the DPA as in the Data Protection Act - actually that seems to be endemic. The loss occurred when a member of staff was burgled and
a laptop (encrypted) and papers containing personal data were
stolen. Another £70,000 of tax payers' money wasted by Officers. Slippery stuff this data eh Nick? You forgot to mention your previous in this regard when the details of 9000 children slipped out of the council's care in March 2010 and you had to sign a letter promising to be more careful in future. Funny isn't it how closely guarded papers are about the One Barnet programme but data about kids is left lying around. So slow implementing change that another loss occurred. These things tend to come along in threes. What next?
The ICO criticisms focus on the
paper record handling policies of the Council. I therefore think it worthwhile
reminding staff what current policies, accepted by the ICO, are.
There is a general presumption
against taking off-site personal or other confidential data contained within
paper records/hard copy material.
Personal or other confidential data
contained within paper records/hard copy material should only be taken off-site
when it is a necessity and not a convenience.
Line management approval must be
obtained before personal or other confidential data contained within paper
records/hard copy material is taken off-site. The approval request must provide
details of the personal or other confidential data proposed to be taken off-site
and the necessity for doing so and the relevant times.
Where personal or other confidential
data contained within paper records/hard copy material is taken off-site it
should be kept to a minimum both in terms of content and duration. Why don't we provide a fire safe at the home of people who have to take confidential papers home sometimes? Only £30
Whilst off-site and temporarily in
the home of an employee (or other person covered by the policy), paper
records/hard copy material containing personal or other confidential data, that
is not being actively worked upon, must be kept secure and separate from any
valuable items such as laptops. So that hopefully the laptop gets stolen and the paperwork is left behind.
Where personal or other confidential
data contained within paper records/hard copy material is taken off-site and is
in transit from one location to another, it should be transported in a way that
mitigates against the risks of theft or loss. Computers should be chained down at all times when outside work. It's easy and cheap.
This means that, insofar as
possible, all necessary steps should be taken to seek to ensure that the paper
records/hard copy material are/is not mistaken for a laptop, other electrical
device or valuable item by a thief and should be transported in a separate
container to such items. Tut tut, hard copy paperwork is a valuable item.
Furthermore where paper records
containing personal or confidential information are taken off site, staff must
ensure they have made a log of the removed/copied papers. This is to ensure that
the council can appropriately risk assess the level of harm likely to be caused
should a loss of data occur. Why not just scan and encrypt them in the first place and put them on the hard drive?
A full copy of the policy is
available on the intranet and staff must ensure they are familiar
with it. If you have any concerns in meeting the requirements of the policy,
these should in the first instance be raised with your line
manager. The onus is placed on the employee. Will managers check?