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Complying with new data protection rules has presented an uphill struggle for Flintshire Council

Complying with new data protection rules has presented an uphill struggle for a local authority, it has been revealed.

General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) became law in May 2018 and aims to provide greater protection and rights for people living in the EU.

Overseeing its introduction was classed as a high priority by Flintshire Council and a dedicated officer was brought in to help.

However, an audit carried out earlier this year showed there was limited assurance that it would successfully meet the requirements by the deadline.

A review identified there were areas where frontline services needed to carry out more work, as well as highlighting concerns about IT systems provided by third parties.

The council currently operates 1,429 systems of which 51 potentially need further work.

There are also 10 systems bought from external providers which it has found cannot be made compliant.

Despite the issues raised, the authority’s chief officer for governance, Gareth Owens, said good progress had been made since the audit was carried out.

In a report he said: “An audit in the run-up to May 25 found that while the council had made some progress it was not fully compliant with the requirements of the legislation.

“Since that time, every chief officer has established an action plan to ensure compliance within their portfolio.

“Each of those work streams is now either complete or satisfactory progress has been made.

“The chief executive and chief officer team have received monthly reports on the level of compliance.

“These actions have resulted in the significant improvements seen since March.

“The potential cost of fines for non-compliance clearly outweigh the cost of achieving compliance.”

The council has identified which of its employees need GDPR training, based on their responsibilities and the sensitivity of the data they handle.

Statistics show that 52 per cent of staff have completed it, with the lowest rate being seven per cent for Streetscene and transport staff.

It compares to more than 80 per cent for the governance department.

Mr Owens said the task of training staff was ‘ongoing’ as it lapses after a certain time.

The report will go to members of the authority’s audit committee on Wednesday.

By Liam Randall – Local Democracy Reporter (more here).

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