Get involved! Send photos, video, news & views. Text SWINDON NEWS to 80360 or email us
Swindon council shut out of DVLA database
SWINDON Council is among more than 300 local authorities which have been temporarily banned from accessing the DVLA database over the past three years.
On three occasions Wiltshire County Council was also banned from requesting the personal details of drivers, according to newly-released information.
Swindon Council had one of its links – usually a line set up by a specific department – suspended between November 29, 2010 and January 17 the following year.
The county council was subject to two bans of one day and just over a month and had another link permanently closed, all of which took place in 2010.
Local authorities use the national database of registered drivers to chase up offenders, such as motorists who do not pay parking fines.
The banned list was obtained by the campaign group Big Brother Watch after a Freedom Of Information Act request.
Swindon and Wiltshire councils received the bans due to audit issues, which could mean poor bookkeeping, such as recording who made a request.
A Wiltshire Council spokesman said: “There were brief suspensions in 2010 due to an administration error but these were quickly resolved and we now enjoy a good working relationship with the DVLA.”
Nick Pickles, the director of the campaign group Big Brother Watch, said: “Concerns about the DVLA database have been voiced for several years, but it is remarkable that in just three years nearly half the country’s councils have been suspended from looking at information.
“The public are right to be worried that their privacy is at risk across a range of Government services.
“The question is whether these suspensions hinder staff trying to do their job, while the staff doing the unauthorised searches escape proper punishment.”
A DVLA spokesman said: “The DVLA takes its duties with regard to the use of its data seriously. It operates a stringent system with regard to electronic access to its data by local authorities, including regular audits.
“Where we become aware of issues relating to the use of our data, we will take swift action.”
Councils have different links because departments chasing motoring offences use the database as do those responsible for fly-tipping, dog-fouling and fly-posting.
A spokesman for the Local Government Association said: “The majority of suspensions are short-lived and down to technical errors relating to the use of the database, nothing to do with inappropriate access.”