Can Social Services Breach Data Protection?

In this article, we’ll look at what can happen if social services breach data protection rules. As they hold and process personal data about people, they must abide by the Data Protection Act 2018 (DPA) and the UK General Data Protection Regulation (UK GDPR).

Social Services data breach

Social Services data breach

The idea behind these laws is that personal data that can be used to identify individuals (data subjects) must be kept secure and only processed when there is a lawful basis to do so.

One of the steps an organisation that processes personal data might need to do is to seek your permission to share your information with others. For instance, social services might ask you to allow them to share information about your case with your GP.

In this article, we’ll look at the harm that might arise if social services breach data protection laws. Additionally, we’ll explain when compensation could be sought for personal data breaches and how much might be awarded.

In a similar way to how we can help with car accident claims, personal injury claims and accident at work claims, we can help you if you’ve suffered due to a data breach. We begin by providing a free review of your case.

During your call, we’ll provide free legal advice and explain your options. Should your claim appear to be strong enough, we could pass it to a data breach solicitor from our panel. They’ll work on a No Win No Fee basis if your case is accepted.

To find out more about data breach claims, please read on. Alternatively, why not call 0800 408 7825 if you have evidence of a valid claim involving a social services breach of data protection?

Select A Section

  1. What Can I Do If Social Services Breach Data Protection?
  2. What Is A Data Breach By Social Services?
  3. How Could Social Services Suffer A Data Breach?
  4. What Are The Two Forms Of Damages You Could Claim?
  5. Calculating Social Services Breach Data Protection Payouts
  6. If Social Services Breach Data Protection Rules, Can I Make A No Win No Fee Claim?
  7. Talk To Us If You Think Social Services Are In Breach Of Data Protection Rules
  8. Where Could I Learn More?

What Can I Do If Social Services Breach Data Protection?

Social services is there to protect vulnerable children and adults. Their role involves making sure clients are safe, healthy and well protected. To carry out their role, social workers must have access to personal information about their clients. Much of this data is protected by the UK GDPR.

If social services breach data protection rules, it doesn’t necessarily mean there’s been a data breach. However, if an organisation is supposed to protect personal data, but its positive wrongful conduct causes a data breach, claims might be possible. However, you’d need to show any mental harm caused or any financial losses. We’ll explain this in more detail as we continue.

The Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) governs data protection laws in the UK. Their powers allow them to investigate data protection breaches. Where laws are found to have been broken, they can fine the organisation responsible. Unfortunately, though, they do not issue compensation to individuals (data subjects) that have been affected by the incident. For that reason, we’ve written this guide on how you could take action.

If you have evidence of a valid claim against social services, why not call our advisors today?

Key Data Protection Breach Statistics

Data controllers and processors are required to inform the ICO about notifiable data security incidents. As a result, statistics are published quarterly to show the number of incidents by sector.

Our chart below shows the recent data incidents reported in the social care sector. They are for non-cyber security incidents during quarter 2 of the 2021/22 financial year.

Social Services Breach Data Protection Statistics Graph

The most common incident was loss or theft of paperwork or data left in an insecure location. We’ll cover other scenarios that could cause a breach later on.

What Is A Data Breach By Social Services?

Before moving on to look at what types of data security incidents can occur, let’s look at what a personal data breach is. According to the ICO, personal data breaches are security incidents that cause:

  • Unlawful or accidental access, disclosure, loss, destruction or alteration of personal data.

Personal data is any information that can identify you directly or be used in combination with other information to identify you.

To be eligible to claim compensation, you’ll need to show that:

  • Your personal data was involved in a data security incident; and
  • The positive wrongful conduct of the body that was meant to protect your personal data caused the breach to occur; and
  • As a direct result, you were harmed psychologically and/or lost money.

If you can prove you’re entitled to data breach compensation, we’d suggest contacting us as soon as possible. That’s because claims are time-limited. While some claims will have a 6-year time limit, others against public bodies (like social services) might have a 1-year limitation period.

How Could Social Services Suffer A Data Breach?

So, how can social services breach data laws? Well, while you may hear about breaches caused by criminals, human error is often the cause. An example might be where the wrong postal address is used when sending a letter containing personal information, even though the correct address is on file.

Let’s look at a real-life example of a social services data breach. In this case, the local authority was fined £60,000 by the ICO after a ‘serious breach’. The incident occurred because a social worker sent information about a child neglect case to the wrong person.

Rather than putting the incident down to human error, the ICO decided it was caused by organisation failings. As a result, the local council have amended their printing procedures when handling sensitive documents.

Source: https://www.itpro.co.uk/644332/ico-slaps-60k-fine-on-plymouth-council-over-printing-gaffe

What Are The Two Forms Of Damages You Could Claim?

Data breach claims are generally formed of two elements. However, you could seek compensation for one or both heads.

  • Material damages might be claimable if you’ve lost money or incurred costs because of the breach. For example, if the data breach meant criminals used your details to extort money from you and you weren’t able to recover it from the bank, it may be possible to claim it back.
  • Non-material damages may be awarded if you endured mental harm because of the breach. For example, you could claim for suffering caused by anxiety or depression.

If you can prove you suffered because of a social services data breach, why not call to see if you could claim compensation?

Calculating Social Services Breach Data Protection Payouts

If social services breach data protection laws, it doesn’t necessarily mean you can seek compensation. However, if a body that was supposed to protect your personal data fails to due to wrongful conduct, and you suffer, you could seek damages.

How much can you claim for a data breach?

Part of the damages you might seek could involve psychological harm. Let’s now look at what amount of compensation you could be paid. The table below shows compensation ranges that could be applicable if you suffer mental injuries because of the breach.

We’ve used figures from the Judicial College Guidelines to create the below compensation table. Legal professionals use these guidelines to help when valuing claims because they provide a list of injuries alongside possible compensation.

Injury TypeCategorySettlement Range
Mental or Psychiatric HarmSevere (a)From £51,460 to £108,620
Moderately Severe (b)From £17,900 to £51,460
Moderate (c)From £5,500 to £17,900
Less Severe (d)Up to £5,500
Post-Traumatic Stress DisorderSevere (a)From £56,180 to £94,470
Moderately Severe (b)From £21,730 to £56,180
Moderate (c)From £7,680 to £21,730
Less Severe (d)Up to £7,680

Importantly, you can now claim compensation for non-material damages (mental harm) even if you’ve not suffered any monetary losses. That’s because of a ruling by the Court of Appeal during the case of Vidal-Hall and others v Google Inc [2015]. Before this case, you’d need to suffer financial loss in order to claim psychological damage.

If you’d like our advisors to value your claim for free, get in touch.

If Social Services Breach Data Protection Rules, Can I Make A No Win No Fee Claim?

We know that if there’s a risk of losing money on solicitor fees, claimants may avoid seeking out the compensation they deserve with the help of a solicitor. Therefore, our panel of solicitors offer a No Win No Fee service. If your claim is accepted, you’ll know that you won’t pay any solicitor fees if the claim fails. As a result, you may find the whole process less stressful.

If a solicitor from our panel agrees to represent you, their work will be done under a Conditional Fee Agreement. (That’s another term for a No Win No Fee agreement.) This will explain clearly that you’ll only pay the solicitor’s ‘success fee’ if you’re awarded compensation. The fee is a fixed percentage of your award that’s deducted by your solicitor.

By law, success fees are capped and you’ll know the percentage before the solicitor agrees to take on the claim. If you’d like to check whether you could claim on a No Win No Fee basis, please call today.

Talk To Us If You Think Social Services Are In Breach Of Data Protection Rules

You are almost at the conclusion of this article on what you could do if social services breach data protection rules. If you are ready to talk with us, you can:

  • Call our free legal advice line on 0800 408 7825.
  • Contact us to request a callback from a specialist advisor.
  • Connect to live chat to ask questions online.

We’re here to provide free legal advice on data breach claims whether you decide to take action or not.

Where Could I Learn More?

Social Work Data – Guidance from the ICO on how the UK GDPR applies to social work data.

Your Right Of Access – Advice on how to ask an organisation to provide the information they hold on you.

Types Of Anxiety – Information about what anxiety is and how different people suffer from it.

Wrong Email Address Compensation – Advice on how to claim if an email containing personal data meant for you was sent to someone without a lawful basis.

Lost Device Claims – This guide will help if you’ve suffered because a device containing personal data about you was lost.

How To Claim – General information on how our panel of solicitors could help you claim compensation.

Thank you for reading about what you could do if social services breach data protection laws.

Article by RA

Publisher UI