Data Protection Week: Meet the team – Information Rights

Our Information Rights Team are now part of Customer, Modernisation & Performance Insight, having moved from Information Governance in IT & Digital. The team works to process Freedom of Information (FOI) Act, Environmental Information Regulation (EIR) and Data Protection (DP) requests and queries on behalf of the council.

“Freedom of Information is about the council being open and transparent about how it works and makes decisions. Much of the information is already on the council website but if someone can’t find what they need there, then they can ask us.

“As a local authority, we spend public money and make decisions that can significantly affect many people’s lives. Access to this information allows the public to be better informed, can improve public confidence and trust through openness and transparency, allows for public debate, and means we can be accountable for our actions.

“The Freedom of Information (FOI) Act 2000 provides public access to information held by public authorities, including the council. Anyone can make an FOI request, even if they don’t live in the city, or even in the UK.

“Responding to requests within the required timescales takes a lot of effort. We have a 20-working day statutory response deadline to respond to all FOI requests. If we don’t meet this the council is then in breach of the FOI Act and could be liable for regulatory action by the Information Commissioners Office (ICO).

“Although the regulator and many requestors have been understanding in terms of the pressures that we and many other public authorities have faced over the last couple of years, the statutory deadline has remained as only the UK Parliament can amend the law.

“We review all of the information and answers provided to us by teams, which takes time, so the quicker teams can provide information to us, the more likely we are able to respond on time. Our answers need approval from Heads of Service and often the Comms Team as well. With approximately 140 requests per month to process, this is challenging.

“We’re currently achieving a 90% compliance rate in providing responses to requesters on time. Providing this information in a timely manner means good customer service, and it’s allowed individuals to investigate or challenge decisions which have had an impact to their lives.

“Whenever you see “information obtained via a Freedom of Information request” in the paper or on the TV News then the information concerning Brighton and Hove comes from our team – with the invaluable help of numerous FOI Coordinators across the council.

“It’s really interesting seeing the variety of questions that the public have for us and the responses we provide, and it’s always rewarding when one of our responses is quoted by Fred Dineage on the local ITV news, as has happened recently - hopefully his successors will read a few more!”

The team consists of:

  • Eisha Jangda, Information Rights Lead
  • Sherine Malko, Senior Information Governance Consultant
  • Rose Frimpong, Data Protection Manager
  • Steven Borg, Freedom of Information Officer
  • Information Rights Development Managers: Megan Washington, Kat Pantlin
  • Information Rights Officers: Jason Stratford-Holden, Elison Land, Ryan Etherington, Christin Nazari, Susan Macpherson, James McLaughlin, Georgia Beddoe, Guity Saadat

Chinese New Year - 1 to 15 February

Happy Chinese New Year! Wishing you great happiness and prosperity

2022 is the Year of the Tiger.

Chinese New Year officially begins on 1 February 2022 and celebrations end on 15 February.

Also known as the Spring Festival, the holiday marks the end of winter’s coldest days. People welcome spring and what it brings: planting and harvests, new beginnings and fresh starts.

Traditionally it is a day for praying to gods, for good planting and for the harvest to come. It is also a day of firecrackers and fireworks to frighten off demons and bad luck. Chinese people will not clean or throw away rubbish, so that good fortune is not accidentally swept away.

This day is also the start of the new zodiac year. There is a cycle of 12 Chinese zodiac animals, one each for a whole year.

Tigers are the third of the Chinese zodiacs. According to legend, Tiger was confident that no one could compete with its speed and vigour for the celestial race that would decide the order of the zodiacs. However, when Tiger climbed out of the river, thinking it was first, it was informed that Rat placed first for its cunning and Ox placed second for its diligence. This left the king of the jungle having to settle for third place.

Like their eponymous zodiac animal, people born in years of the Tiger are vigorous and ambitious, daring and courageous, enthusiastic and generous, self-confident with a sense of justice and a commitment to help others for the greater good.

Chinese New Year traditionally ends with the Lantern Festival.

Covid-19 safety

Please ensure you celebrate safely and always follow the latest Covid-19 public health guidance.

The Chinese Community in Brighton & Hove

In the 2011 census (the most recent data until the 2021 census is completed and results available) 3000 people in the city identified as Chinese (1.1% of the population). This is slightly higher than the percentage for the south east and England and was more than double the percentage recorded in 2001.

Mandarin and Cantonese are among the top ten most commonly interpreted languages in the city.

Find out more about Chinese New Year

Data Protection Week: Strong passwords

Strong passwords are key as a first line of defence against unauthorised access to your computer and your personal information. The stronger your password the more secure your computer is.

How to choose a strong password

Guidance from the National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC), the leading experts in data protection, recommends some key points to consider to create a stronger password.

Three random words

A good way to create a strong and memorable password is to use three random words. Be creative and choose 3 completely unrelated words. Good examples might be ‘flowerssailingblinds’ or ‘riverlaughbranch’ etc.

Try not to choose words that are similar, like items from your desk. Mix it up!

Avoid words that are personal to you like a name or place, a favourite sports team, a date or even the weather. These are all popular choices that could make it easier for your password to be guessed.

Different passwords for different systems

Never use the same password for different systems. If you have difficulty remembering your passwords, try using a password manager.

Support to choose a strong password

If you you'd like more advice or guidance, please feel free to contact our Information Security team: information.security@brighton-hove.gov.uk

Data Protection virtual Q&A - 28 January

The Information Rights team will also be holding a virtual Q&A on Friday 28 January via Teams to answer any burning questions you have about data privacy and staying safe online.

Please join us at 11am on Friday 28 January - there's no need to book, just join the Teams meeting on the day.

If you'd like to receive a meeting invite as a reminder in your calendar, please email data.protection@brighton-hove.gov.uk with ‘DP Virtual Q&A Invite’ in the subject heading.

To submit a question to the Information Rights Team for the Q&A session, you can use the chat window during the meeting, or if you prefer to send questions in advance you can email data.protection@brighton-hove.gov.uk with the ‘DP Virtual Q&A Question’ in the subject line.

PIER downtime, upgrade and change to access this February

PIER will be unavailable over two long weekends this February because of an essential upgrade. The way you access PIER Employee Self Service (ESS) is also changing from 7 February.

You won't be able to use PIER during the following times:

  • all day Friday 4 to Sunday 6 February, with access restored at some point during Monday 7 February
  • from 6pm on Friday 11 to 9am on Monday 14 February

This means there will be very limited time to submit your timesheets and get them authorised before the cut-off on Tuesday 15 February.

If you're claiming for expenses or hours worked in January, please prepare your timesheets in plenty of time so that they can be submitted early in February. Managers - please try and check any timesheets you receive as soon as you get them.

PIER Employee Self Service (ESS) login is changing

The upgrade is a big change to PIER Employee Self Service (ESS). The site will have a new look and feel, and will be more responsive on mobiles.

From 7 February, you'll need a new link to log in to PIER ESS. If you normally access PIER from outside the Wave, please bookmark the new link to ensure you can access PIER after 7 February: https://bahccli.webitrent.com/bahccli_ess/

Managers – please inform any staff who don't use the Wave about this change.

From 7 February, when accessing PIER ESS from the Wave you'll be presented with a new screen asking you to choose "Single Sign-on account" or "A different account".

Council staff should choose "Single Sign-on account". You'll go straight into PIER ESS as before.

Schools staff should choose "A different account". You'll be taken to a login screen where you need to log in as you do currently - your username will be Networkusername@admin.brighton-hove.gov.uk (for example, AnneOther@admin.brighton-hove.gov.uk). Please note that this is your normal network login name, not your email address, so there is no “.” between your first name and surname. Your password will be your normal network password.

The login procedure is the same as for schools staff if you log into PIER from outside the Wave, for example on a browser on a personal device.

Data Protection Week – 24 to 28 January 2022

In the lead up to the 16th international Data Protection Day on Friday 28 January 2022, our own Information Rights Team are holding Data Protection Week at the council from 24 to 28 January.

Throughout the week we’ll be sharing information to help you protect data privacy for yourself and for the council, including support to create a strong password, how to handle data protection breaches and getting data protection training.

Data Protection virtual Q&A - 28 January

The Information Rights team will also be holding a virtual Q&A on Friday 28 January via Teams to answer any burning questions you have about data privacy and staying safe online.

Please join us at 11am on Friday 28 January - there's no need to book, just join the Teams meeting on the day.

If you'd like to receive a meeting invite as a reminder in your calendar, please email data.protection@brighton-hove.gov.uk with ‘DP Virtual Q&A Invite’ in the subject heading.

To submit a question to the Information Rights Team for the Q&A session, you can use the chat window during the meeting, or if you prefer to send questions in advance you can email data.protection@brighton-hove.gov.uk with the ‘DP Virtual Q&A Question’ in the subject line.

Data Protection at the council

Our Information Rights Team are now part of Customer, Modernisation & Performance Insight, having moved from Information Governance in IT & Digital.

The team works to process Freedom of Information (FOI) Act, Environmental Information Regulation and Data Protection (DP) requests and queries on behalf of the council.

They're currently a team of 14 working on anything from Children’s Subject Access requests to police disclosure requests - anything that involves queries for or about information that isn’t on our external website and isn’t in the public domain. This can be information requested by individuals about themselves (a Data Subject Access Request), anything held by the council (Freedom of Information Act request) or specifically about the environment (Environmental Information Regulations).

The team is supported by the Data Protection Officer Heid Judd as well as a network of DP (and FOI) co-ordinators working across the council.

Look out for a full 'meet the team' feature on the Information Rights team later this week!

Upcoming health & safety and first aid training

Spaces are available on a number of health & safety and first aid training courses this winter and spring:

DSE Assessor
Held via Microsoft Teams
Wednesday 23 February, 9.30am to 1pmFind out more and book your place

Emergency First Aid at Work
Old Ship Hotel, Brighton
Tuesday 22 March, 9.30am to 4.30pmFind out more and book your place

Overview - Health and Safety Roles and Responsibilities of Head Teachers
Held via Teams
Monday 28 February, 10am to 12.30pmFind out more and book your place

Paediatric First Aid
Old Ship Hotel, Brighton
Monday 7 and Tuesday 8 March, 9.30am to 4.30pmFind out more and book your place

Institute of Occupational Safety & Health (IOSH) Managing Safely
Brighton Town Hall
Tuesday 29 March to Friday 1 AprilFind out more and book your place

First Aid Annual Refresher
Old Ship Hotel, Brighton
Friday 11 February, 9.30am to 12.30pmFind out more and book your place

First Aid at Work (3 day)
Old Ship Hotel, Brighton
Wednesday 2 to Friday 4 February, 9.30am to 4.30pmFind out more and book your place

Safer Working at Height
Brighton Town Hall
Tuesday 25 January, 1.30pm to 5pmFind out more and book your place
Monday 28 March, 9am to 12.30pmFind out more and book your place

Health and safety for new site managers and caretakers in schools
Held via Teams
Wednesday 26 January, 10am to 1pmFind out more and book your place

Safer Lifting & Handling of Loads
Brighton Town Hall
Monday 14 March, 9am to 12.30pmFind out more and book your place

Risk Assessment
Held via Zoom
Wednesday 2 February, 1.30pm to 5pmFind out more and book your place

First Aid at Work 2 Day Recertification
Old Ship Hotel, Brighton
Tuesday 25 and Wednesday 26 January, 9.30am to 4.30pmFind out more and book your place
Wednesday 30 and Thursday 31 March, 9.30am to 4.30pmFind out more and book your place

Emergency First Aid at Work (Children’s Services)
Old Ship Hotel, Brighton
Wednesday 9 February, 9.30am to 4.30pmFind out more and book your place

Fire Risk Assessment
Held via Microsoft Teams
Tuesday 22 February, 10am to 1pmFind out more and book your place

Effective Health and Safety Management
Held via Zoom
Tuesday 1 March, 9.30am to 1pmFind out more and book your place

Control of Substances Hazardous to Health (COSHH)
Held via Zoom
Tuesday 22 February, 1.30pm to 5pmFind out more and book your place

How to create accessible content - training now available

Digital accessibility has been a priority for the council since the 2018 Public Sector Bodies (Websites and Mobile Applications) Accessibility Regulations came into effect.

We’re now offering training sessions to all council employees to improve their knowledge of accessibility and learn how to create accessible content.

The three hour, interactive session takes place online over Teams and includes a number of group based activities.

By the end of the training you will learn:

  • how to write for your readers
  • the fundamentals of plain English
  • how to create alt text
  • how to use graphs and tables
  • how to make PDFs and documents accessible
  • how to work with the Digital Content Design team

Upcoming training sessions

  • Thursday 27 January – 2pm to 5pm
  • Wednesday 9 February – 10am to 1pm
  • Thursday 24 February – 2pm to 5pm

If you would like to attend any of the above sessions or join the waiting list for further sessions in March or April contact chloe.dunford@brighton-hove.gov.uk
You can also find new guidance on creating accessible content in our Communications Toolkit.

Government announces lifting of Plan B restrictions

Yesterday the government announced that the measures put in place under plan B in England will be lifted.

The changes include an end to the requirement to work from home if you can. Other national changes around the legal requirements for mask wearing and Covid passes for attending events were also announced yesterday.

In response to the government’s announcement, we are reviewing the office and workplace arrangements we had put in place before Plan B restrictions and we will be issuing further more detailed guidance next week.

We are not expecting to make rapid or significant changes to the team agreements that were put in place last year. We must continue to be cautious as there are still staff testing positive for Covid and infection rates in the city-region remain high, with national data showing that one in twenty people in the South East had Covid last week.

In the meantime, please continue to work from home if you can and if you have been working in council buildings and settings since December, keep following the advice to keep our workplaces safe for yourself and those you work with.

We should all continue to follow safer behaviours to protect yourself and others so that we can continue to deliver essential public services to our residents:

  • get your Covid vaccines, your booster and your flu jab
  • take lateral flow tests before you meet others or go to crowded or enclosed places
  • book a PCR test if you have any symptoms
  • isolate and follow the latest guidelines if you test positive on a lateral flow or PCR test
  • wear a face covering in crowded or enclosed places
  • meet outdoors or let fresh air in
  • wash your hands regularly

Mandatory vaccinations for all health and adult social care staff

From 1 April 2022, all frontline health and social care staff will need to be fully vaccinated (second dose more than 14 days ago), unless they are exempt, under updated government regulations.

The requirement applies to all health and social care staff who have direct, face-to-face contact with people while providing care – such as doctors, nurses, dentists and domiciliary care workers, unless they are exempt. They will also apply to ancillary staff who are not directly involved in care but may have social contact with vulnerable people.

The regulations are being introduced to protect the most vulnerable people in our community, as well as to protect workers, and the wider health and care system where unexpected absences can put added pressure on already hardworking professionals.

We know many of our health and social care staff have had their first two doses of the vaccine, and in many cases their booster too.

If you have not yet had two doses of an approved Covid vaccine you need to have your first vaccination by Thursday 3 February to make sure you can get both doses in time.

First, second and booster vaccinations are quick and easy to get. You can book an appointment online or by calling 119. Walk-in vaccinations are also available without the need to book in advance.

We know that some of you will have questions about how this will impact you and whether you are affected by these changes. In the first instance can you raise these concerns with your manager, and we will continue to update you as more guidance is issued from the Department of Health and Social Care.
Your manager may be able to provide additional support for you to discuss concerns about taking the vaccine, if you are still undecided.

Mental health awareness - 9 February

This course runs on 9 February from 1.30pm to 4pm on Zoom.

This basic awareness course will provide an opportunity to reflect on your own attitudes to, and knowledge of mental health.

By the end of this session you will be able to:

  • describe the impact of stigma and social disadvantage faced by people experiencing mental ill health
  • describe some of the common mental health problems
  • develop ideas to support and maintain good mental health in the people you support
  • describe sources of support and information in Brighton & Hove.

Book your place on the Learning Gateway