Mar 20 2007
A SHOCKING lapse of security at Perth and Kinross Council has resulted in hundreds of council workers’ pay details falling into the hands of the PA.
The documents were contained on a USB key, a portable storage device used on modern computers to transport large amounts of files. It contained 59 separate documents, many of which appear to be from the Environmental Services Department.
And it emerged yesterday that the item wasn’t even reported missing to the police.
The memory stick was found by a Perthshire man on the ground of the bike shelter in the courtyard adjacent to the Kinnoull Street multi-storey car park, next door to the council building at Pullar House.
Perth and Kinross Council yesterday described the incident as “an unfortunate accident” and thanked the PA for returning it to them.
The retired man, who found the memory stick, told the PA: “It was clearly an accident for someone to drop the pen drive but when I saw some of the sensitive information on it, I thought this was quite serious.”
The “sensitive” information included 25 spreadsheets, some with details of council workers’ pay, National Insurance contributions and overtime worked. The information covers people who work in Environmental Services, from HGV drivers to workers in the Big County’s cemeteries.
“I would have thought it would be unwise for council employees to be going around with a pen drive in such a way that it could be so easily lost. I thought more care would be taken over such information.
“If I was a council worker, I would be furious. It is a gross breach of confidence that someone like me should be able to find such information,” he added.
The memory stick also contained older budgets and statements, including health and safety reports for the council’s planning and transportation department. Performance reviews of all areas of environmental services, from toilet cleaning to refuse collection, were also on the memory stick.
There was even an Environmental Support Service staffing manager’s job description and an empty folder entitled ‘Russia.’
It was handed over to the PA before we returned it to Perth and Kinross Council yesterday morning.
A spokesman for Perth and Kinross Council said: “It is the case that council officers take work home with them and this is often accomplished by the use of such devices as USBs.
“Officers in this situation are all aware of the need for care and it would seem that this was an unfortunate accident.
“The device contained some historical information but much of the documentation was on the device in order to assist the owner in preparing some draft material for the new Business Management Improvement Plan.
“The failure by the finder of the USB device to return it to the council constitutes theft and the council would like to thank the PA for its return.”
Roseanna Cunningham, Perth MSP, added: “I have no doubt that whoever lost this information will have been extremely anxious about its whereabouts and will be very relieved indeed to have had it returned safely.
“No doubt the council will want to look very closely into this matter and ensure that all staff are made aware of the importance of maintaining the security of confidential information.”