Between August 2008 and December 2011, 461 members of staff at the Financial Services Authority were warned that they were failing to adhere to the regulator’s clear desk policy, which involves keeping sensitive information safe.
A freedom of information request by Private Eye magazine shows that the staff members were rapped for failing to keep their desks in order, thereby creating a “risk of internal loss of information”.
The magazine reports that the regulator regularly carries out clear desk audits and security staff do nightly sweeps to check for laptops that are not locked away.
Under the FSA’s clear desk policy, staff must tidy their desk and the area around it every day.
They also need to ensure that classified or sensitive documents and materials are not left unattended in a way that makes it easy for unauthorised persons to read or take copies.
Since 2008, disciplinary action has been taken against 27 officials, but fewer than 10 were dismissed and none before 2010. Most received warnings, including 11 in 2009.
Compared with the 27 disciplinary actions over poor performance, there were 36 disciplinary actions for misconduct relating to behaviour of non-compliance with staff policies and procedures.
Officials did, however, escape the wrath of the FSA when it came to the failures that led to the government bailout of the Royal Bank of Scotland and HBOS.
As Private Eye highlights, no FSA official was found to have breached the procedural policies prevailing at the time.