As new Information Commissioner Elizabeth Denham prepares to take up the role, predecessor Christopher Graham has hinted at a potential dearth of senior data protection experts willing to join the ICO after admitting he abandoned his search for two deputy commissioners due to a lack of suitable candidates.
Both of his deputies – director of freedom of information Graham Smith and director of data protection David Smith – left in recent months, forcing the ICO to move to a more collective model of leadership and a much larger senior management board.
In the ICO annual report, published this week, Graham – who stepped down yesterday – said: “In advance of David Smith’s retirement a recruitment exercise to appoint a new deputy commissioner (data protection) was held. Unfortunately we were unsuccessful in identifying an appropriate successor.
“For this reason, and because I did not want to tie the hand of the next Commissioner, I have not sought to recruit replacements for either David Smith or Graham Smith. I appointed Simon Entwisle, deputy chief executive officer, as my deputy commissioner from 2 November 2015.
“Given the loss of these very experienced members of my board I changed the management structure of the ICO to ensure full support for myself and my successor during the transition to the new leadership. As of November 2015 the executive team, leadership group and Information Rights Committee were all replaced by a senior management team to provide day-to-day leadership for the ICO.”
Denham, who takes up the role next month, joins from the role of Information & Privacy Commissioner in British Columbia, Canada. Exact details on how many full-time staff work at the office are not available but Denham is supported by a six-strong advisory board.
However, according to its most recent annual report, the commission received just 350 access complaints and 194 privacy complaints during 2014/15.
By comparison, the UK ICO recieved 161,190 complaints about nuisance calls and texts alone and an additional 16,388 data protection gripes, according to its 2015/16 annual report.
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