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by Rory Brigstock-Barron
Saturday, February 22, 2014
A pensioner recovering from cancer says she still fears for her life after the council leaked details of her complaints to thugs on her estate in Holloway.
Ann O’Brian, 74, has been spat at, had cigarettes thrown at her and suffers daily abuse from some neighbours on the Andover Estate, off Hornsey Road.
She says she is picked on because she is old and, despite making numerous reports to the police and the council, things have not improved.
Her situation was made worse when details of the complaints made by her and 50 other tormented residents on the estate, were sent to the yobs they were complaining about in April 2012.
Despite six families having to be rehoused and the town hall being forced to spend £50,000 on extra policing on the estate, an Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) investigation which concluded last month decided the council should not be fined.
“The fact that the council hasn’t been fined is outrageous, all they’ve got is a slapped wrist. They should be fined again, they’ve done it again and again. I’m very upset about it,” said Mrs O’Brian. “They’ve put my life in danger.”
Mrs O’Brian has just recovered from breast cancer and is on anti-depressants. She lives with her daughter who is her carer and is now afraid to go out on her own.
“I’ve just had enough of it. We’re scared to go out because the thugs are always hanging around. The council apologised, but that’s not good enough. The person who leaked the data should have got the sack.”
Mrs O’Brian was one of 14 residents on the estate who received between £1,000 and £5,000 in compensation for the leak.
But Anna Thwaites, the solicitor who brought the joint action against the town hall, says it should have been punished further for the blunder.
“More robust action should have been taken, especially as there was a further Data Protection Act breach by the council within two months,” she said. “This indicates that lessons were not learnt and the council did not take its obligations seriously.”
Cllr Andy Hull, Islington Council’s executive member for finance and performance, said: “We apologised sincerely at the time for this serious error and we repeat that apology now. We take community safety seriously and encourage residents to report any concerns. We have not received any reports of harassment or intimidation of those whose details were leaked.
“Since this incident occurred, we have tightened up our systems and enhanced the training given to all staff who handle personal data to reduce the risk of such mistakes in the future.”
“It was the Information Commissioner’s decision to audit the council rather than impose a fine. We will co-operate fully with their audit and their expert advice will help us make further improvements.”