23 May 2012

Special warblings - The omnidatashambles

the latest in a long line of Mayors - Brian Schama
From: Adams, Nikki P.A. to Nick
Sent: 18 May 2012 15:42
To: AllStaff
Subject: Weekly Message from the Chief Executive 99% 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.
These 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?
If you require further advice or guidance on Data Protection or Data Security, please email data.protection@barnet.gov.uk
Nick Walkley
Chief Executive
London Borough of Barnet, North London Business Park , Oakleigh Road South , London N11 1NP
Tel: 020 8359 7001
Barnet Online: www.barnet.gov.uk

Sorry if you are really bored with these non-stick messages. Why should the staff suffer alone?

Yours frugally

Mr Mustard

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