How can we manage the surge of subject access and freedom of information requests?
In terms of Data Protection and Information Governance the numbers of information requests – especially subject access and freedom of information, have seen significant increases, leading to an increase in appeals and complaints. The latest ICO annual report stated over 60% of Data Protection Officers had seen an increase in customers and service users exercising their information rights.
Data breaches and security incidents are also on the rise and there is increased scrutiny from the ICO to ensure compliance. The penalties for non-compliance can be considerable both financially and reputationally, the ICO saw a huge increase in Data Protection Breaches reported up from 3,311 to 13,840 in 2018-19.
So, where does CycFreedom fit in and how does it help?
CycFreedom from Geoff Smith Associates ( GSA) , is a cloud based software solution that is helping organisations across the UK to manage the increasing numbers of information disclosure requests they receive, such as subject access and freedom of information.
GSA produces specialist software resources for the Police and public / private sector, including Local and Central government, national agencies, the NHS and overseas customers. CycFreedom has become the leading solution for UK Police Forces (currently used by over 50%) as well as national agencies and some Local Authorities. The cloud-based solution has many features including a full redaction toolkit, workflows and email templates.
Save time and costs
CycFreedom has brought about real time efficiency savings to organisations. For example, a local authority with a team of two, were dealing with 390 requests in a calendar year, or roughly 1 request per day in its entirety. However, after CycFreedom was introduced, this daily average increased over 300% to 3.6 per person per day. This upturn was attributed to the following: Knowledgebase (who and where), Re-using old responses, Integrated Redaction, Response (Case file) builder and Raw data reports. Other organisations, including Police Forces, also reported very similar results.
Here are a couple of quotes from Data Protection and Information Governance professionals who have been using CycFreedom for a number of years:
“I cannot imagine how other Local Authorities cope without CycFreedom. As well as features such as the redaction tools, it’s about having everything in one place and at our finger tips, saving time and meaning as an Authority we can process track and manage more FOI, Subject Access and other Information requests. Put simply, we couldn’t function without it (CycFreedom)” DPO at a Local Authority.
“Without Cycfreedom we would be unable to comply with our legal deadlines and the ever increasing volumes of work. Put simply, I couldn’t imagine operating effectively without it!” Senior Manager for Public Access at a UK Police Force.
Track the full range of requests
CycFreedom is being used to manage and track: Subject Access, FOI, EIR and other Disclosure requests, Data Breaches, ICO Appeals, Data Sharing Agreements, DPIAs, Complaints and Compliments to name but a few. In addition to this the inclusion of a comprehensive redaction tool negates the need to purchase any further redaction software. Our customers have commented on its use:
“In the current climate of austerity it is important to source systems and solutions that provide value for money. The more processes you can get out of a system the more added value and stronger the business case. Unlike many other solutions CycFreedom does far more than you bought it for.”
“The most comprehensive system we have seen. [CycFreedom] Does far more than we ever thought it did and we can see potential use in so many areas.”
Information Governance Manager and DPO
Compliance mitigates the risk of fines
Compliance is an area of great importance and CycFreedom helps to assure this in a number of ways, importantly reducing the risk of non-compliance with GDPR legislation and subsequent financial and reputational damage. CycFreedom has a full audit trail to provide transparency over all requests and cases from receipt to end - vital in the event of appeals or complaints.
Comprehensive Reporting Capabilities
Reporting is essential and as part of initial set-up and configuration GSA business analysts work with organisations to develop these. The document management capability includes full version history and ensures data is kept securely in a central location – ie not in folders and files across a network – and assists data minimisation.