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Corrections faxes man's criminal history to wrong place

Wednesday 5 Dec 2012 8:22 a.m.

Chauvel says Corrections should take 'a bold leap into the 1990s' and stop using fax machines

Chauvel says Corrections should take 'a bold leap into the 1990s' and stop using fax machines

Corrections accidentally faxed a man's criminal history to the wrong place, with the sensitive document ending up in the hands of the Labour Party in another embarrassing privacy blunder.

The man's name, prison sentences, fines and community service dating back to August 1999 were on the five-page document, faxed by Corrections' Henderson probation office.

It was intended for a Waitakere addiction centre but instead was sent to a west Auckland removal business, which handed the file to Labour.

Labour's corrections spokesman Charles Chauvel was stunned Corrections was still using fax machines - especially to send such sensitive information.

"It's probably time the Department of Corrections took a bold leap into the 1990s and stopped using fax machines - at the very least, for this sort of information being transmitted," he told Radio New Zealand.

"I find it extraordinary that they are still using antiquated technology and getting it so wrong in gross breach of an individual's privacy."

Corrections Minister Anne Tolley says the blunder is disappointing but it's the result of human error, "and people do make mistakes".

She said the privacy breach was not a reason to stop Corrections faxing such information.

"I don't think you can if you're sensible about sharing information and good effective work practices.

"What are the alternatives? You put it in the mail - it could go astray in the mail, put someone in a car and drive to the other side of Auckland - that's not very effective either. So the sending of information is problematic and everyone needs to be very, very careful."

Mrs Tolley will be asking Corrections bosses questions about how their processes can be improved.

"The first question to ask is, is there any other way that is more secure to share this sort of information?"

Corrections chief executive Ray Smith will face questions about the blunder when he appears before a parliamentary select committee on Wednesday morning.


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