Friday 19 January 2018

Civil servant snooped on dole records of his ex-girlfriends

The civil servant snooped on dole records
The civil servant snooped on dole records
Niall O'Connor

Niall O'Connor

A civil servant was docked pay after he was found to be snooping on the social welfare records of work colleagues, family members, former girlfriends and celebrities.

The male official, who is employed by the Department of Social Protection, was investigated over hundreds of incidents of accessing records, often done for "curiosity purposes".

Significantly, the department employee told his superiors that he came "under pressure" from unnamed individuals who sought internal details about their social welfare claims.

Official department documents show that the employee claimed to have felt "threatened" by an individual known to him "who wanted to know what information was on the Department of Social Protection system about him".

But the employee insisted he did not hand over information to any third party and was offered no money for carrying on the unauthorised searches.

A long-running investigation into the official's behaviour determined that over 30 individuals had their records accessed over a period of almost two years.

In the majority of incidents, the man said he could not recall the reasons for examining people's records.

However, it emerged that he accessed records belonging to a number of people known to him, as well as celebrities.

"(Employee's name) confirmed his other curiosity access related to family members, relations, neighbours, friends, old school companions, other acquaintances, a number of ex-girlfriends and a number of celebrities," according to documents released under the Freedom of Information Act.

Sanction

The employee's snooping of records resulted in a sanction for breaching internal department rules surrounding the access of records.

Records show that the male individual was docked two increments over the period a year and was also precluded from applying for any promotions that may arise.

By snooping on customers' records, the official was told that he "failed to discharge your duties to the required standard" and "failed to maintain the high standards required of staff" in the Department of Social Protection.

"You failed to observe the appropriate behaviour at work; and you failed to maintain the required standards of probity," a senior officer told the employee.

The Department has introduced a series of new controls in recent months as part of a clampdown on snooping by its employees.

The Irish Independent previously revealed that a separate employee was investigated for snooping on the records of women he believed were single.

The man said his activities were "stupid and foolish".

He admitted that he would check people he went to school with to see if they were single or married and what part of the country they lived in.

The man told his bosses he checked the records of predominantly women in their late 30s who have not settled down.

He admitted meeting up with a woman whose records he had obtained through the internal database.

The employee told his superiors that medication he was taking had impeded "his judgment and caused him to do things that he would not normally do".

According to the department, it constantly reviews its internals controls and takes its data protection responsibilities very seriously.

Irish Independent

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