Firms including Balfour Beatty and Laing O'Rourke paid annual fee of £3,000 to obtain sensitive information on workers

Over 40 construction firms have been accused of flouting the law by paying for personal information on blacklisted construction workers.

The Information Commissioner’s Office revealed this morning that a raid on premises in Droitwich had uncovered a blacklist containing sensitive information on 3,213 construciton workers.

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Credit: striatic

Construction firms would use the list to vet potential new empoloyees. The data included information on personal relationships, trade union activity and employment history.

The ICO said that companies paid a £3,000 annual fee to a firm known as the Consulting Association to use the service. Construction firms then paid £2.20 for data held on individuals and could add information to the database.

Invoices to construction firms for up to £7,500 were seized during the raid on February 23.

Consulting Association was owned by Ian Kerr, who now faces prosecution by the ICO for breaching the Data Protection Act. According to the ICO the firm operated for 15 years.

Deputy Information Commissioner, David Smith, said: “This is a serious breach of the Data Protection Act. Not only was personal information held on individuals without their knowledge or consent but the very existence of the database was repeatedly denied.”

“The covert system enabled Mr Kerr to unlawfully trade personal information on workers for many years helping the construction industry to vet prospective employees.”

Smith said the ICO was considering what regulatory action to take against the construction firms who had paid for personal information from the blacklist.

“I remind business leaders that they must take their obligations under the Data Protection Act seriously.”

From 16 March the ICO said it will operate a dedicated enquiry system for people who believe personal information about them may be held on the database.