Thursday 18th April 2019,
North Yorks Enquirer

SBC: Fiddling with the ICO

 SBC: Fiddling with the ICO

  • – an “In My View” article by NIGEL WARD, highlighting yet another potentially criminal cock-up by our least-favourite public body.

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One may learn a great deal about Scarborough Borough Council simply by examining the public record, as it is presented on the websites of various regulatory institutions – for example, that of the Information Commissioner’s Office.

Save, always, the possibility that I may have misinterpreted the information provided on the website of the Information Commissioner’s Office, I write to draw attention to an apparent departure from the regulatory requirements (GDPR), which I am concerned may amount to a civil or even criminal offence on the part of the Borough Council.

The currently valid (until 3rd December 2019) ICO register entry details for Scarborough Borough Council are reproduced here:

Of particular interest is the fourth line:

Payment tier: Tier 1

Also featured on the ICO website is a very helpful page entitled “How much will I need to pay?”, providing guidance to facilitate Data Controllers in the matter of determining which Tier (and, therefore, which data protection fee) is applicable to any given organisation or individual:

Hopefully, we can rely on the following as statements of fact:

  • Scarborough Borough Council is a public authority.
  • Scarborough Borough Council does not have 10 members of staff or fewer.
  • Scarborough Borough Council does not have 250 members of staff or fewer.
  • Scarborough Borough Council is in Tier 3.

The three Tiers attract varying registration fees:

This would appear to confirm that Scarborough Borough Council may have been paying only the Tier 1 data protection fee of £40 when, in fact, a Tier 3 fee of £2,900 was/is due – thus depriving the Information Commissioner’s Office of £2,860 in revenue, and this contingent upon a false representation. This shortfall may be applicable to a period amounting to number of years; perhaps, even, since 2008. One dreads to think.

The website of the Information Commissioner’s Office also informs us that a penalty of 150% of the Tier 3 registration fee (i.e. £4,350) may be due.

This is by no means trivial. Eleven years of arrears could amount to circa £30K, plus another circa £45K in fines. One wonders if the forthcoming 2019/20 SBC Budget will reflect this risk.

Of course, it is also possible that the information that I have cited above, directly from the ICO website, is erroneous in some way.  Nevertheless, on the face of it, a diligent and impartial investigation is clearly in order.

Following publication of this present article, I look forward to Scarborough Borough Council confirming to the office of the North Yorks Enquirer that the Council has now reported itself to the Information Commissioner’s Office and the North Yorkshire Police.

Failing that, I would urge one of our Opposition Councillors to progress the matter. Councillor Liz COLLING [Lab.] is Chair of the Overview & Scrutiny Board. It would be remiss of her to disregard this report.

The question that I am most frequently asked in regard to Scarborough Borough Council – and which pops up on social media on a daily basis is this: “Are they corrupt? Or are they just incompetent?”. Well . . . there is a third possibility.

By the way, I am considering throwing a retirement party to be held, ideally, at the Whitby Brewery.

SBC Monitoring Officer Mrs Lisa DIXON (who is also the Director of Legal & Democratic Services) is very welcome to attend, along with her Deputy Monitoring Officer Carol REHILL. Together, we could chat – informally, of course – about some of the “vexatious” individuals whose identities we must take care never to mention by name, even though some of them have most generously attempted to assist the Council in its duty to comply with statutory requirements.

Readers will forgive me, I hope, if I look beyond Mrs DIXON and Ms REHILL when appointing an organiser for my prospective event at the brewery.

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