COUNCIL data breaches have multiplied almost tenfold in the last five years.

In the year 2020/21, Oxfordshire County Council recorded 414 data breaches - this compared to just 47 reports in 2016/2017.

The information, obtained by a Freedom of Information request, revealed that the number of data breaches at the council had been increasing each year, for the past five years.

In 2017/2018 the council recorded 89 breaches of data; in 2018/2019 it reported 247 data breaches, and in 2019/2020 it reported 384 data breaches.

In that five-year period the county council experienced a total of 1181 data breaches, making it the seventh-worst council in the country for data breaches.

Hampshire County Council had the highest number of data breaches, with 3759 reports made.

Overall, the UK’s councils saw a total of 33,645 human-caused data breaches in the last five years.

A spokesperson for Oxfordshire County Council said: “We take the matter of data management extremely seriously.

“This includes being rigorous about recording and investigating potential incidents.

“We are fastidious as an organisation about logging and investigating and learning from any incidents."

In 2021 the council launched compulsory data protection training for all its staff.

It said this would help 'embed further the principles of good data management and security that already exists at the council'.

The spokesperson added: “This builds on previous improvements made in staff training including widespread training linked to GDPR.

“ That has all led to the creation of a healthy reporting culture and a self-awareness among staff at the council.

"This accounts for the numbers of reports now taking place.

“The council is committed to maintaining the integrity of personal data and encourage all staff and managers to demonstrate best practice and to raise any concerns.

"The number of potential data breaches reported to us by the public is extremely low.”

Over the summer, Oxford City Council sent out an apology after a 'computer error' caused a potential data breach over rent statements.

The public apology was made after one concerned resident raised the alarm after receiving a rent statement that contained another persons 'rent reference, their payments and dates, and address'.

At the time the council believed around 80 homes were affected.

The issue occurred after a new computer system that supports services the council's landlord services to its 7,800 council homes was installed.

The city council said it took 'immediate steps' to recover any errors and sent apologies to all those affected.

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