A STUDY revealing the amount of data breaches across Welsh local authorities in the last five years has shown that Powys County Council ranks among the highest.

A Freedom of Information [FOI] request was lodged with 103 county councils across the UK by VPNOverview – a collection of VPN websites covering all aspects of online privacy, cybersecurity, and internet freedom.

Nineteen of Wales’ 22 local authorities responded to the FOI request, which asked for the number of data breach cases reported by each county council over the last five years. And research shows that Powys County Council (PCC) was in the top 5 for breaches recorded in that five-year period – with 317. A whopping 69 per cent of Powys’ data breaches (219) were recorded in the last two years (2019/2020 and 2020/2021).

The study originally provided inaccurate figures for PCC – claiming just 32 total breaches had been recorded in the last five years. That would have put the county council at the bottom of the table, but the error was pointed out by the local authority.

The 317 breaches instead puts the local authority in fifth place among the 19 Welsh county councils that responded to the FOI request.

At No1 was the City of Cardiff Council, which recorded 627 total data breaches in the same period.

Below Cardiff, Wrexham County Borough Council (545) and Rhondda Cynon Taf County Borough Council (458) made up the top three, with Flintshire County Council (382) in fourth and ahead of Powys, while Pembrokeshire County Council (254) were just below Powys.

Other local authorities recording triple figures for data breaches included Newport City Council (251), Merthyr Tydfil County Borough Council (227), Caerphilly County Borough Council (208), Conwy County Borough Council (197), City and County of Swansea (178), Neath Port Talbot Council (173), Torfaen County Borough Council (171), Blaenau Gwent County Borough Council (144) and Monmouthshire Council (135).

Of course, Powys being the largest county by area in the UK comes into play here, with Cardiff’s population of around 317,000, making it the largest local authority area in Wales, also contributing. According to 2020 figures, Powys has a population of roughly 133,030 people. Merthyr Tydfil’s population of 55,000 is the fewest among Wales’ 22 local authority areas.

The request discovered four local authorities recorded only double figures for the amount of breaches.

Bridgend County Borough Council was the lowest with 49, with Ceredigion County Council (94), Gwynedd Council (76) and Denbighshire County Council (65) also recording below 100.

The three councils who did not provide a response were Carmarthenshire County Council, Vale of Glamorgan Council and the Isle of Anglesey County Council.

Wrexham only provided data from 2018 onwards, their worst hit year being between 2020 and 2021 with 249 breaches.