Serious Organised Crime Agency to outsource reports

The Serious Organised Crime Agency is considering plans to outsource the
database used to record suspicious activity reports, despite recent data losses
by HM Revenue & Customs and the DVLA.

The proposal is aimed at reducing breaches in SARs confidentiality, but
figures within the profession are concerned about outsourcing the highly
sensitive reports.

‘If SARs information held by an outsourcing partner was to be lost the issues
at the DVLA would pale into insignificance. SOCA will have to give assurances
that the highest thresholds of security are met if,’ said John Davies, head of
business law at ACCA.

Reporting suspicious activity to SOCA has long been a concern for the
profession because of past breaches of security. In some cases, the identity of
accountants making reports has revealed to suspects.

Since October 2006 SOCA has received 220,000 SARs. In 2007 there were only
six such breaches of confidence.

The crime fighting agency believes that the technology underpinning the
current database needs to be updated. Outsourcing SARs to an expert would also
improve the way SARs data is utilised.

In its 2007 SARs annual report SOCA said that if it outsourced the database
its supplier would have to ‘address necessary new requirements and meet
participants’ reasonable performance expectations’.

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