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London council loses thousands of kids' details

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Barnet Council has lost records of 9,000 school children after a laptop and unencrypted USB stick were stolen.

Nick Walkley, chief executive of Barnet Council, has written to parents to apologise but said the risks associated with the data breach were minimal. Information held included children's names, educational attainment, entitlement to free meals and postcodes and phone numbers. Some records were more detailed and those parents received a separate letter.

Although the database of kids from year 11 in 2007, 2008 and 2009 was encrypted, the loss happened when a member of staff copied the unencrypted data onto CD Roms and USB sticks.

The laptop, CDs and USB sticks were then stolen during a burglary at the staff member's home. That person has been suspended for breaking council rules by saving the data onto memory sticks.

Anyone worried about the data loss can contact Barnet Council via its website or on 020 8359 7599, quoting 2903c.

The council said it has now disabled external storage devices to stop staff making unauthorised copies of data and is setting up an independent review of what went wrong. ®

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