Serco apologises after accidentally sharing coronavirus contact tracers' emails

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Outsourcing giant Serco has apologised after it accidentally shared almost 300 email addresses of new recruits to the Government’s coronavirus contact-tracing programme.

The company is helping to sign up people to support efforts to track and trace cases of Covid-19 to help reduce the spread of the disease in the UK.

The Government has promised to recruit 21,000 contact tracers to manually gather information and get a detailed picture of who might be at risk of infection. Serco made the error when it emailed new trainees to tell them about training. Serco included 296 addresses in a CC section of an email rather than BCC, meaning they were visible to recipients.

A spokesman for the company said: “An email was sent to new recruits who had given us their permission to use their personal email addresses.

“In error, email addresses were visible to other recipients. We have apologised and reviewed our processes to make sure that this does not happen again.”

Ministers hope contact tracing will reduce transmission of COVID-19 by identifying and alerting people who may have been exposed to the virus, so they can protect themselves and others around them by self-isolating.

In February Serco said it had grown annual revenues for the first time since 2013 after winning major contracts, including a £1.9 billion deal to supply asylum accommodation and one worth £800 million to provide prisoner escorts and custody services in the UK.

It came after the company and fellow outsourcer G4S found themselves at the centre of a public and political storm in 2013 when it emerged that the pair had been overcharging the Government for electronically monitoring people who were either dead or in jail, or had left the country.

The two businesses were stripped of their responsibility for tagging criminals in the UK later that year.

It led to a £22.9 million settlement by Serco with the Serious Fraud Office, on top of a £70 million fine from the Ministry of Justice in December 2013.

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May 20, 2020 |
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