DBS stops sending electronic copies of sensitive documents after ‘issues’ with redaction software

Organisation indicates that faults were quickly detected and ‘there is no evidence of any security compromise’

The Disclosure and Barring Service has temporarily stopped using electronic means to send sensitive documents after a software tool used to redact information encountered “issues with… functionality”.

In answer to a written parliamentary question from shadow home secretary Diane Abbott – who asked if the redaction tool currently used by DBS is “fit for purpose” – Home Office minister Victoria Atkins admitted that there had been some problems of late.

“DBS uses a tool to redact sensitive documents which was selected by its technology service provider, Tata Consultancy Services (TCS),” she said. “DBS has reported some issues with the redaction functionality. These issues have been raised with TCS, and a new software release is currently in test for deployment.”

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In a statement issued to PublicTechnology, DBS indicated that there does not appear to have been any security issues arising from the software fault.

A spokesperson said: “The issues relating to the tool we use to redact information from sensitive documents was identified quickly and there is no evidence of any security compromise. We are currently not issuing any electronic documents that require redaction until the new tool is made available. This is currently being developed and should be available later this year.”

Late last year DBS announced it would be launching a new procurement exercise for IT services after concluding that a key technology platform was “not suitable for further rollout”. The announcement came six months after the Public Accounts Committee published a damning report that found that a major DBS digitisation programme constituted a “masterclass in incompetence” on the part of the Home Office. 

MPs on the committee expressed concern that DBS’s contract with TCS – which is due to end this year – would run out before the modernisation work was complete. But Atkins told parliament last month that retendering remained a better option than bringing the IT project back in-house.  

Established in 2012, DBS carries out criminal-records checks to allow employers to ascertain whether potential employees have any convictions that would make them unsuitable for the work in question. The checks – which are offered at basic, standard, or enhanced level – are used by organisations that work with children or vulnerable adults, as well as by hospitals. 

DBS is a non-departmental public body that is sponsored by the Home Office.

Sam Trendall

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