Data security breaches can strike any type of organisation at any time. Many local authorities are now giving this area of compliance more scrutiny than in the past.

This week the Local Government Association issued the Local Government Data Handling Guidelines, which set out data security best practice for local authorities. The move follows a Cabinet Office report on data handling procedures in government, setting out requirements for improving data security in central government.

The new guidelines will be of significant interest to authorities, particularly in light of the foreword from the Information Commissioner, Richard Thomas.

He states that: "In investigating any apparent breaches of the Data Protection Act by councils we will look to see whether these guidelines have been implemented effectively and take this into account in assessing whether councils are meeting their obligations."