It is now a year since a new security system for government information was launched and we would like to remind legal aid providers of how it works.
There are 3 tiers in the Government Security Classification (GSC):
- TOP SECRET
You can find details of your provider obligations to use the markings in a Legal Aid Agency (LAA) Information Security document available to download on GOV.UK – see below.
In general, you will find that most legal aid information falls under the OFFICIAL classification and does not need to be marked.
But all information, whether physical or electronic, needs to be appropriately protected to maintain confidentiality. It should only be shared with those who have a genuine need to know.
There may be circumstances where you will need to indicate that extra care needs to be taken when handling certain information. If that is the case you should use the marking - OFFICIAL-SENSITIVE.
This will apply if compromise or loss of the information could have damaging consequences for an individual, your organisation, the LAA or wider government.
Taking extra care means storing material securely both in the office environment and in transit. This means using lockable cabinets and, where appropriate, sealed bags and postal tracking.
Here are some examples of when to use the OFFICIAL-SENSITIVE marking:
- cases with high media profile and risk of damaging consequences if disclosed
- terrorism charge cases
- serious and organised crime cases
- serious fraud cases
- information about investigations and civil or criminal proceedings that could compromise public protection or enforcement activities or prejudice court cases
- where there is a specific risk assessment or threat to highly vulnerable individuals, eg
- cases with witness anonymity
- Public Law Children Act cases, where there is a risk of harm to children
- ECF family cases involving risk of harm to children
- forced marriage protection order cases
- applicants living in a refuge – specifically domestic violence cases
- cases involving intimidation and corruption
- some Special Immigration Appeals Commission (SIAC) cases
- advice or documentation protected by legal professional privilege
- where there is a legal requirement for anonymity
- highly sensitive change proposals or contentious negotiations
Government Security Classification system (GSC)
LAA data security requirements – to check obligations under clause 16 of your contract