ESSEX County Council has paid out thousands in compensation for data breach claims since 2021 amid a “worrying” rise in cyber and non-cyber security attacks across the UK.

An investigation by has revealed a stark increase in terms of human error and cyber-attacks across UK councils.

Essex County Council confirmed 2,895 general cyber security incidents since 2021. Between 2023 and 2024, the council logged 2,158 general cyber security incidents - a staggering rise of 198 per cent compared to the previous year.

Separately, the council revealed it had received 83 data breach incidents in the last three years.

A further 276 such incidents were logged between 2022/23 as well as 258 more in 2023/24.

Essex County Council also confirmed a payout of £3,500 between 2022/23 followed by £11,500 between 2023/24.

A spokesman for Essex County Council confirmed it is seeing an “increased number of cyber attacks” but stressed it has “multiple lines of defence and different security technologies to protect its data”.

A spokesman continued: “We continually monitor our systems for malicious activity and take appropriate action in response to detected threats..

“Most of the cyber incidents in our statistics are phishing attempts, many of which are intercepted before they reach the user and none of which have been successful.

“We are one of the largest local authorities in the country and we have a good track record at managing compliance. The number of data breaches is low compared to the number of cyber incidents.”

Councils are expected to collect, store, use, share and dispose of personal information or data about individuals, in line with General Data Protection Regulation and the Data Protection Act .

According to the ICO (Information Commissioner’s Office), cyber attacks on local authority systems have increased by 24 per cent between 2022 and 2023.

Personal data breaches reported by local government, it confirms, have skyrocketed by 58 per cent in the same period.

Through a series of Freedom of Information Requests to every UK Council, DBC has revealed the local authorities with the most reported data breaches.