Confidential information has been misplaced by Brent Council 18 times in three years
PUBLISHED: 08:00 26 November 2011
Confidential information documented by Brent Council has fallen into the wrong hands 18 times over the past three years, it has been revealed.
In one shocking case, details of a child protection case were mixed up and sent to the wrong person.
Emails have been sent to incorrect addresses, personal information has been dumped in recycling bags on the street and confidential data was thrown in a skip.
Civil liberties campaign group, Big Brother Watch, made the discovery through a Freedom of Information request which reveals all cases of loss of personal information by council employees and contractors between August 2008 and August this year.
Maria Fort, research director at the campaign group, said: “Brent Council oversaw the unauthorised disclosure of information about children on at least seven occasions, often in the format of hard copy documents – documents that cannot be password protected or encrypted.
“It is clear that very real changes need to be made to prevent further incidents from taking place.
“These individuals are some of the most vulnerable members of our communities and breaching their personal information is an incredible invasion of privacy.”
In another case, nine files containing personal details which could help identify fraudsters, such as National Insurance numbers and bank details, were lost by the council.
Minutes of a meeting about a child in care were sent to the wrong parent and a laptop with files including social worker reports was stolen.
Despite a number of thefts, police have only been told once.
No council employees have been sacked but two contractors were dismissed.
A council spokesman said: “Each breach is investigated and preventative action is taken.
“In Brent most breaches were actually linked to procedural issues rather than individual errors and were resolved by increasing training and ensuring the right policies and technical measures were in place, such as encrypting laptops.
“Where individual error was to blame, the council has followed up with disciplinary and training action and in some cases this has led to dismissal.”
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