Oxfordshire Director of Legal

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Former council worker sentenced for unlawfully obtaining personal data

A former social services support officer at Dorset County Council has been prosecuted for accessing social care records without authorisation.

The Information Commissioner’s Office said an internal investigation by the council found that Michelle Shipsey of Verwood, Dorset, had inappropriately accessed the records without any business need to do so. The records related to four individuals known to her.

Ms Shipsey appeared before Poole Magistrates’ Court and admitted one offence of unlawfully obtaining personal data, in breach of s170 of the Data Protection Act 2018.

She was sentenced to a 6-month conditional discharge, ordered to pay costs of £700 and a victim surcharge of £20.

Jonathan Mair, Corporate Director - Legal & Democratic Services Monitoring Officer at Dorset Council, said: “We take any misuse of the information we hold about Dorset residents very seriously. When we became aware of this issue we investigated internally and found that there had been a data breach. Michelle Shipsey resigned before we could take any disciplinary action of our own but we reported the data breach to the Information Commissioner’s Office. This led to the Information Commissioner’s own investigation, the prosecution and conviction of our former employee.

“We have robust arrangements in place to safeguard personal information and all our staff receive training on protecting the information we hold. It is extremely rare for someone to misuse their legitimate access to our systems for illegitimate reasons. If this does happen then we will take our own action and inform the Information Commissioner. In this instance it has resulted in Ms Shipsey losing her livelihood and gaining a criminal record.”