College probe after personal details of hundreds emailed out by mistake

City College Norwich staff are set to vote in a ballot by Unison the union on potential strike actio

City College Norwich staff are set to vote in a ballot by Unison the union on potential strike action over pay. Picture: Keith Whitmore - Credit: Keith Whitmore

A college has vowed to investigate after the personal details of hundreds of its applicants were emailed to a single parent by mistake.

In August last year, the parent of a City College Norwich student was in an email exchange with one of the college's customer service team when she received an unanticipated attachment.

An email was sent to her containing a spreadsheet titled "P2E links for scheduled applicants".

Presuming it was related to the matter she was pursuing with the college, she opened the attachment expecting to see something intended for her.

Instead, she was shocked to discover a spreadsheet filled with intimate personal details of hundreds of people associated with the college.

These included names, telephone numbers, postal and email addresses and other identifying details.

She replied querying the attachment and was told it was sent mistakenly and asked to delete the email - then heard no more of the error.

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The parent, who did not wish to be named,  said: "I was really rather shocked by the level of detail that was included in the spreadsheet and it's really bad that it was sent out so easily by mistake.

"Who knows what could have happened if the information had fallen into the wrong hands? I know I would have been distraught to think my details had been sent to somebody that I didn't know. 

"I'm sure my son's details must have been on there, so I feel for everybody else. It's quite a serious data breach.

"I just feel something needs to be done to make sure this doesn't happen again."

While the parent did not pursue the matter further immediately, after being alerted to what had happened by this newspaper, the college has vowed to conduct a thorough investigation into the incident.

City College Norwich principal Corrienne Peasgood OBE.

City College Norwich principal Corrienne Peasgood OBE. - Credit: Archant

Corrienne Peasgood, the college's principal, said: "I can confirm that we take any reports of data breaches very seriously and as data controller, I will investigate this historic incident as best I can."

The incident is believed to have been totally isolated, with the offending email sent directly to the parent and nobody else.