London borough lost children's data three times

Twice in pubs

The London Borough of Kensington and Chelsea has revealed that staff have had data on children stolen on three occasions, including twice in pubs.

In response to a freedom of information (FoI) application from BBC Radio 5 Live's Donal MacIntyre programme, the borough said a social worker had taken papers including court reports and a statement of special educational needs home to read over the weekend in September last year, but the bag containing these was stolen while the employee was in a pub after work.

Despite the council warning all social workers not to remove sensitive information, in January a notebook containing the addresses of 12 children was stolen from a youth worker in a bar. In another incident, a laptop with children's data was stolen in a coffee shop.

Kensington and Chelsea said those joining its family and children's services department undertake to maintain the confidentiality of information and are made aware of its policies to protect that data.

"Staff are required to notify the loss of any confidential information to their manager immediately, as happened in these cases," said a spokesperson. "These three staff members were all the victims of theft. All three incidents were investigated promptly and management action taken as required."

Out of 23 London boroughs that responded to the FoI applications, 13 told the BBC programme they had experienced losses of personal data since January 2007. Ten failed to reply.

LB Havering said 375 files on students and their parents were stolen when they were in a closed skip, waiting to be collected for incineration. The files included copies of students' birth certificates and P60s from parents.

This article was originally published at Kablenet.

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