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Norfolk County Council fined £60,000 for leaving sensitive files about children in cabinet sent to shop

Norfolk County Council said it accepted the £60,000 fine. Photo: Steve Adams

Norfolk County Council said it accepted the £60,000 fine. Photo: Steve Adams

Archant

Norfolk County Council has been fined £60,000 for leaving files that included sensitive information about children in a cabinet sent to a second hand shop.

The breach came to light after the social work files, with information about seven children in, were discovered by a shopper in a cabinet they had bought from the shop in April 2014.

The shopper then alerted the council.

The council had got rid of the filing cabinet, which had been used by the children’s services department, in an office move.

The Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO), which fined the council, said the local authority had not kept a record of how many pieces of furniture were disposed of and where they were delivered to.

MORE: Norfolk County Council sells filing cabinet with confidential information inside

Steve Eckersley, head of enforcement at the ICO, said: “For no good reason Norfolk County Council appears to have overlooked the need to ensure it had robust measures in place to protect this information.

“The council had disposed of some furniture as part of an office move but had failed to ensure that the cabinets were empty before disposal.

“Councils have a duty to look after any personal information they hold, all the more so when highly sensitive information is concerned – in particular about adults and children in vulnerable circumstances.”

Simon George, executive director for finance and commercial services at the council, said they had “robust” data protection procedures and had “tightened practice” after the blunder.

“We are very sorry that our practice fell short on this occasion,” Mr George said. “We accept the ruling and the fine.

“There is no evidence that this information has been misused in any way and we are grateful to the member of public that quickly brought this to our attention.

“We voluntarily reported ourselves to the Information Commissioner and we undertook a careful review to ensure that we could learn from what happened.”

He added: “We handle a huge amount of personal data every day and incidents such as this are rare but we will continue to monitor and review practice to ensure that the personal data we hold is kept safe.”

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