HAMPSHIRE County Council has been ranked as the worst county authority in the country for human error data breaches.

New research from VPNOverview, which carries out extensive research on VPNs, online privacy, security and internet freedom, has shown that Hampshire County Council has recorded thousands of human error data breaches in the last five years.

Figures show that since 2016, the authority has recorded a total of 3,759 breaches caused by human error, over 1,000 more than the second worst county council for breaches, Gloucestershire.

The data was gathered after the company sent Freedom of Information requests to every county council in the country.

It also showed that between the years of 2018 and 2019, the authority experienced the most again with 902 breaches, 49% above the 556 recorded between 2016 and 2017.

The county council has said that these numbers will appear higher because of the size of the authority compared to others.

But although 2020 to 2021 has seen a slight decline to 831, VPNOverview says the numbers “show a growing problem”.

It adds: “A data breach is an incident where data is seen by an unauthorised individual or group, compromising the private nature of the information.

“When looking at businesses or organisations, this can be personal information from a client/customer, or internal data such as sales figures of expense sheets.”

Leader of Hampshire County Council, Cllr Keith Mans said: “Hampshire is one of the largest local authorities nationally, serving 1.4 million residents, and proportionally therefore, our numbers will appear higher than many other councils.

“However, it’s crucial to note that the figures we have provided include all potential data incidents that were reported to us - including those that were not in fact breaches, some relating to other organisations that were reported to the county council, and also any ‘near misses’ which also resulted in no data breach.

“We take the management and protection of our data extremely seriously and our staff report any occurrence where it’s thought there may have been a data breach.

“The fact that we record and report to this extent illustrates the critical awareness we have in relation to the importance of good data protection, and the appropriate and robust procedures we have in place across the county council.”