Rap over loss of sensitive data
A memory stick with details of vulnerable children and their families was lost by a Sandwell Council worker on the way home, it emerged today.
The incident sparked an investigation by the Information Commissioner and the council has found to be in breach of the Data Protection Act.
The worker had downloaded the data in order to carry out work at home - a breach of council policy - and lost the memory stick, which was not password-protected.
It included sensitive personal information relating to four families, including why children were taken into care or made subject to a Child Protection Plan.
The stick was lost in February and the worker was suspended pending an investigation. She was disciplined, but is still working for the council.
Councillor Ian Jones, who has responsibility for children and young people, has apologised to the families.
"This practice is not within the rules and this is some thing that should never have happened. Officers visited each of the families involved and explained to them what happened and what we were doing about it," he said.
"The actions of one individual have highlighted the weaknesses in the system and we have done everything possible to address them."
Allison Fraser, chief executive of Sandwell Council, has had to sign a document to assure the Information Commissioner's Office that personal data will be kept securely in future.
This includes an assurance that laptops, mobiles and other equipment must be encripted.
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