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Personal details found on city street

PUBLISHED: 07:00 05 February 2010 | UPDATED: 07:56 02 July 2010

Mike Smith holding the folder he found dumped by an Every Child charity fundraiser.

Mike Smith holding the folder he found dumped by an Every Child charity fundraiser.

Kate Scotter

A children's charity has vowed to tighten security measures after bank details of people who had signed up to donate money to the cause were found on a Norwich street.

A children's charity has vowed to tighten security measures after bank details of people who had signed up to donate money to the cause were found on a Norwich street.

A folder containing direct debit forms of people who had signed up to donate money to EveryChild, a charity which seeks sponsorship for children in developing countries, was found in London Street, Norwich.

It is believed the folder had been dropped or left by one of the street fundraisers for the organisation.

Mike Smith, who lives in the north of the city, found the folder and sent copies of it Information Commissioner's Office (ICO), which has since carried out an investigation.

The charity has been found to be in breach of the Data Protection Act (DPA).

Today, charity officials apologised and said they were strengthening their procedures to prevent any future breach of date security.

Mr Smith, 44, who found the folder on November 23 while walking back from work, said: “It was just lying on the pavement and I wasn't quite sure what it was at first but I suspected it might be one of those charity collection folders.

“When I opened it up, I was quite shocked. It's a very serious mistake to leave people's personal data on the street and I was really surprised that a charity would put people's personal data at risk.”

There were nine forms in the folder which had been either completed or partially completed, detailing donors' names, addresses and bank information.

Information about the charity and the employee's contract of employment were also in the folder.

Mr Smith received a letter back from the ICO this week, saying that the charity's processing of personal data was not fully compliant with the provisions of the DPA and that enquiries were being made.

According to the ICO, the charity has breached the seventh principle of the DPA which says 'Appropriate technical and organisational measures shall be taken against unauthorised or unlawful processing of personal data and against accidental loss or destruction of, or damage to, personal data'.

It has contacted EveryChild to investigate how the incident occurred and to identify any appropriate steps which may need to be taken to prevent future occurrences.

Mr Smith added: “I feel as though I've done a service by reporting it. I've got nothing against the charity but I think people should know their personal data is at risk.

“People who handle this type of data should be given the necessary training to deal with this kind of thing.”

He now plans to hand the folder into the police.

A spokesman from EveryChild said they have now updated its procedures and begun retraining its 15 street fundraisers.

She said: “It is likely that a folder containing the forms went missing from the fundraisers' belongings that were placed nearby. “While it is common practice for street fundraisers to keep their fundraising materials on the street when they are speaking to members of the public, they are asked to ensure that their folders and forms should never be left unattended at any point.

“EveryChild regrets this mistake which occurred on this occasion and is strengthening procedures to prevent any future breach of data security.”

Have you got a story for the Evening News? Call reporter Kate Scotter on 01603 772326 or email kate.scotter@archant.co.uk

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