Southend-on-Sea City Council (20 012 384)

Category : Other Categories > Other

Decision : Closed after initial enquiries

Decision date : 29 Mar 2021

The Ombudsman's final decision:

Summary: We will not investigate Mr X’s complaint about the Council’s handling of two personal data breaches. This is because this is a matter best considered by the Information Commissioner’s Office.

The complaint

  1. The complainant, whom I shall call Mr X, complains about the Council’s handling of two data breaches.

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The Ombudsman’s role and powers

  1. We can decide whether to start or discontinue an investigation into a complaint within our jurisdiction. (Local Government Act 1974, sections 24A(6) and 34B(8), as amended)
  2. We investigate complaints about ‘maladministration’ and ‘service failure’. In this statement, I have used the word ‘fault’ to refer to these. We must also consider whether any fault has had an adverse impact on the person making the complaint. I refer to this as ‘injustice’. We provide a free service, but must use public money carefully. We may decide not to start or continue with an investigation if we believe there is another body better placed to consider this complaint. (Local Government Act 1974, section 24A(6), as amended)
  3. We normally expect someone to refer the matter to the Information Commissioner if they have a complaint about data protection. However, we may decide to investigate if we think there are good reasons. (Local Government Act 1974, section 24A(6), as amended)

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How I considered this complaint

  1. I considered the information Mr X provided. I also considered the complaint responses which the Council provided in response to our initial enquiries. I sent Mr X a draft of my decision and considered his comments in response.

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What I found

  1. Mr X complains about the Council’s handling of two personal data breaches after the Council accidentally sent Mr X another family’s personal information.
  2. Mr X also complains about complaint handling issues. He says the Council delayed in responding to his complaint and failed to refer itself to the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) when it should have done.
  3. The Council has considered Mr X’s complaint and has signposted him to both the ICO and the Ombudsman.

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Final decision

  1. We will not investigate this complaint. This is because complaints about data protection matters, such as this, are best considered and decided by the ICO. Mr X says the ICO is considering it.
  2. We will not investigate the complaint handling issues Mr X raised. It is not good use of public resources to investigate complaints about complaint procedures, where we are not also investigating the substantive issue, which is the data breaches.

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Investigator's decision on behalf of the Ombudsman

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