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Computer misuse in DWP.

VITALLY IMPORTANT: ALL MEMBERS (ESPECIALLY NEW STAFF):

READ THIS DOCUMENT BEFORE YOU USE A DWP COMPUTER.
PCS January 2022 Social media guidance Bulletin is below

One of the most distressing types of personal / disciplinary case that we may have to represent a member on is that of computer misuse.

INSTANCES OF COMPUTER MISUSE ARE CLASSED AS SERIOUS / GROSS MISCONDUCT IN DWP AND THESE CASES ARE PRACTICALLY IMPOSSIBLE TO DEFEND.

It is vitally important that every member of staff realises that every key entry  that you will make on a DWP system is recorded for security purposes.

Big Brother is DEFINITELY WATCHING YOU.

If you misbehave, it can all easily be checked back on and it WILL definitely be used as evidence against you.

Big Brother is DEFINITELY WATCHING YOU.


USE OF DWP PAYMENT SYSTEMS

Certain computer records are marked up as 'sensitive' when the claimant has a relationship to DWP staff.
If you access one that you shouldn't, then you WILL get caught.
IT IS INEVITABLE. DON'T DO IT.

If you are given a relative or friend's claim to work on, DO NOT ACCESS IT.
Let your line manager know that you know the person and that you have not gone into the claim.
They will simply pass the work to someone else. Problem solved.
IF IN DOUBT, ASK YOUR LINE MANAGER BEFORE PRESSING ANY KEYS.

If you DO go into a claim from a NINO and then realise that you know the person, tell your team leader immediately.
Do not make any payments or go into any further screens.
Show your team leader what task, phone call or post has prompted you to go into the claim.
Print a copy of the task or post, make a note of the call, etc.
Accidents do happen. Cover yourself properly.
Deal with it when it happens, don't wait.
Don't forget about it and hope nothing happens.

You should be told this by trainers at your induction and when you are first shown a Departmental computer. Of course it doesn't happen very often and we end up defending a number of staff who look up their best mate's records, their family's records, or sometimes they even look at their own records.

GETTING A COPY OF YOUR OWN SYSTEM DETAILS
You can legitimately get a copy of your own records via a Freedom Of Information request, if you need it.
This avoids any problems and is a reasonable request.
Ask your Line manager for advice and the correct form to apply for them - they will help you.
If they don't help you, let us know and we will help you to formally put the request in again.

You are not allowed to access ANY customer benefits records without a valid business reason and / or supporting tasks or post.

We are trusted with sensitive customer information and the penalties for misusing the system are very severe.

Accessing friends computer records and your own records counts as serious misconduct and may lead to dismissal and even to criminal prosection.

There is little or no argument or defence can be made against charges of unauthorised system access.

CASE STUDY:
ACCESSING CLAIMANT RECORDS WITHOUT GOOD REASON

A number of years ago, a previous Branch Secretary recieved a call from a stressed out rep in another office, saying that she had been called in to represent a member regarding a number of allegations of serious computer misuse. She was experienced, but understandably felt unable to handle this case.

An Area Director's Investigation Team had been called in.
Think of The Men In Black.
What an ADI team did was to compile any factual evidence that came up regarding the alleged misconduct.

The Branch Secretary arranged to go to the other office urgently.
Due to the severity of the case, he was released to attend immediately.

On arrival at the other office, he was sat down with the ADI team and was walked through the type of allegations that had been made and was offered access to a room to go through a copy of the evidence. The member of staff was elsewhere in the office, but as a courtesy, he was being told in advance what to expect.

A receptionist was accused of accessing claimant records from outside of the area. This had led to a full search of the records that she had accessed.

The payment systems retain details of every screen you navigate through and which buttons you press. These audit-trailed details are kept remotely and cannot be altered or removed by staff. They also cannot be disputed.

The records accessed were those of:
Staff in the same office.
Staff relatives.
Drug dealers.
Celebrities.
Others that seemed to be linked to local debt collection.

The pile of computer printouts of the claimant details screens and records that were suspiciously accessed was two feet deep. That was only going back six months.

The Secretary sat down with the member concerned and she denied everything, saying that she left her access card unattended when going away from reception to collect paperwork and that someone else must have gone on her computer in her absence. That (of course) was also an offence. Leaving your access card in your computer when away from your desk is also a security breach.

The receptionist sat through the first interview with the Investigators, giving the story above and then bizarrely decided to start saying 'no comment' (which really didn't help things).

After she got out of the interview, she promptly went off sick, never to return.

She was called into the office several times and she refused to attend or even have a home visit. She would only speak to the Branch Secretary, but, in order to proceed, the Investigators naturally had to deal with her in person.

The department did not release her from employment, even when it was found that she had taken a job at a local solicitors. As a result, the Department's personnel team contacted the new employer to state that she was still employed by the department and therefore could not send a P45 across and that she was required to attend to answer the charges of gross misconduct against her.

Yes, they can do that.

The new job ended abruptly and the receptionist was eventually dismissed by the Department, which didn't come as any surprise.

Remember, every screen you go into in any claim can be called up and viewed, even several years after you have accessed a claim.

ACCESSING THE INTERNET with a DWP computer.

'Reasonable use' of a DWP PC to access the internet in your own time is permitted.
Please keep it to lunches and breaks.


Certain websites are completely blocked by DWP and attempts to access them will make an alarm sound in a room somewhere and the next thing that you'll know is that there are a couple of supervisiors turning up at your desk and taking you off for an interview.

Please don't even dream of accessing gambling or porn sites - these set alarms ringing instantly.
It has happened.
There is no defence that can be made against accessing these.
There is also little or no argument that can be made regarding privacy when using DWP computers.

There are also very strict rules about email and Skype use.

ACCESSING THE INTERNET ON YOUR PHONE.
The temptation to keep up with Facebook etc is all very well, but again, just do it in your own time.
Your phone should not be used in work time, except for emergencies and if you have permission.
Whatever you might do on your phone can get you in as much trouble as any access on a DWP computer.

Help us to help you.
DON'T DO GET YOURSELF SACKED.
IF YOU ARE UNSURE, ASK A MANAGER OR YOUR TU REP.

DWP acceptable use policy v2.5 (Click once to download)

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2022 PCS SOCIAL MEDIA GUIDANCE BULLETIN

31 January 2022
Take care when using social media!

To: All Members in Department for Work & Pensions Group and GEC.
DWP/MB/018/22

Breaches of DWP Social Media rules have resulted in disciplinary action

Departmental Standards of Behaviour
DWP expects all employees to take care when using any social networking site at home, in your own time and using your own computer. The DWP Standards of Behaviour Procedure for ‘Participating online on the internet or intranet – Social Networking – Blogging or any other media’ warns:

• The simple rule to remember is that the principles covering the use of social and other digital media by civil servants in either their official or a personal capacity are the same as those that apply for any other activity. Social media is a public forum and the same considerations would apply as, say, to speaking in public or writing for a publication either officially or out of work. (Paragraph 31)

• …without proper authorization…avoid commenting altogether on politically controversial issues and avoid making any kind of personal attack or tasteless or offensive remarks to individuals or groups - i.e. anything that would cause offence to a reasonable person. This applies irrespective of whether you can or cannot be identified as an employee of the Department. In these circumstances, if posts / comments are considered inappropriate, disciplinary action will be taken that could lead to dismissal. (Paragraph 33)

• It’s important that we are all aware that posting any content that is considered inappropriate – whether in an official or personal capacity – may result in disciplinary action which could lead to dismissal. (Paragraph 35)

Civil Service Management Code
The Civil Service Management Code also requires civil servants to take care when discussing political issues and avoid jeopardizing their civil service role. The Code states that:

‘Civil servants…must not allow the expression of their personal political views to constitute so strong and so comprehensive a commitment to one political party as to inhibit or appear to inhibit loyal and effective service to Ministers of another party. They must take particular care to express comment with moderation, particularly about matters for which their own Ministers are responsible; to avoid comment altogether about matters of controversy affecting the responsibility of their own Ministers, and to avoid personal attacks’. (Paragraph 4.4.13)

Photographs and videos
Take care when posting a workplace related photograph or video on social media. A record of inappropriate behaviour in the workplace may seem, at first, to be ‘just a bit of fun’ to you but could be evidence for disciplinary action under DWP Standards of Behaviour or Social Media Policy.

Make sure that photos or videos posted on social media do not contain ‘secure data’ such as building passes, Wi-Fi details, personal information etc. in shot. Double check all images before posting.

PCS Advice for Members
When using social media, such as Facebook, Instagram or Twitter or You Tube or WhatsApp, you should be aware of the current DWP Standards of Behaviour for social media under ‘Participating online on the internet or intranet – Social Networking – Blogging or any other media’ (Procedures 30 – 42)

Normal disciplinary principles apply for social media related cases but there are some key issues that can impact the outcome of such cases, for example:

• How did you react when social media misconduct was discovered? Was an unqualified apology given? Was the offending material quickly deleted?

DWP Standards of Behaviour confirm that you do not need permission to take part in Trade Union activities in your own time but you will still be bound by rules on disclosure of information. The Civil Service encourages employees to join an appropriate Trade Union and play an active part within it. (Paragraph 55)

However, normal standards of conduct should be maintained at all times for all social media postings. Be polite – Imagine someone saying the same thing to yourself. If you would find it offensive then it is probably not a good idea to say it to others:

• Don’t swear or name call
• Never be defamatory
• Don’t threaten, bully or harass

Always pause before posting your views or re-posting someone else’s – Do you want all intended recipients to see the post? Think about how they’ll react.

Always contact your local PCS Representative for advice, support and representation before you attend any meeting for any alleged misconduct related to your use of social media.

David Burke, Group Assistant Secretary
Angela Grant, Group Vice President

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