Confidential child welfare documents found dumped at council tip

August 14, 2013 § Leave a comment

Confidential child welfare documents found dumped at council tip

STV 13 August 2013 11:11 BS
Files: The confidential papers were found in a council dump.

Social work bosses have launched an investigation after confidential child welfare documents were found “blowing about” a council dump.

Private child protection review documents from Aberdeen City Council were found in a tip 70 miles away in Dundee.

Council chiefs in Aberdeen say they have launched an inquiry, which they say they are treating “very seriously”.

It is unclear how the documents came to be in the Dundee dump more than an hour’s drive away from Aberdeen.

The child protection documents, marked “file copy”, include minutes of a review of a woman’s pregnancy from two years ago. Another shows how a named woman had two children taken into care due to “chronic neglect”.

Such reviews are used to establish how well a child is doing with its parents and include confidential updates on a child’s condition as well as private information on the parents.

The paperwork includes the home addresses and medical details of service users as well as information about health and care of children.

It is the second time this month Aberdeen City Council has been caught in a data protection storm.

The council was investigated by the Information Commissioners Office after a worker allegedly took confidential documents home to work on an unsecure computer network.

Ken Lynn, Dundee City Council’s convener for social work and health, said: “Something’s gone very wrong with their processes up in Aberdeen.

“They’ll need to look very carefully at how tight they’re being. If this is true it’s a matter of concern for Aberdeen City Council. I’ll contact the director of social work shortly to be sure there’s no Dundee connection.”

Councillor Len Ironside, convener of Aberdeen City Council’s social care and wellbeing committee, said: “We’ll be holding an investigation to find out how these papers got down there. It’s a matter of concern, these things do happen occasionally but I’m not aware of it happening in Aberdeen City Council.”

He added: “It’s serious, goodness me, it’s a breach of data protection and everything else. But I can’t say any more than that at the moment, I’ve no idea how they got there.”

A spokesman for Aberdeen City Council refused to speculate on how the documents ended up in a dump. He said: “Aberdeen City Council takes any breach of confidentiality very seriously and we are investigating the matter.”

Aberdeen Central MSP Kevin Stewart said the revelations were “extremely worrying” and has written to Aberdeen City Council asking if the matter should be investigated by police.

He said: “Obviously these allegations will be of great concern to families who have had involvement with social work and I hope that the council will do everything possible to protect those folk that may have been mentioned in these documents and will act swiftly to find out what has gone wrong here.

“I have asked the council leader if this situation requires police involvement rather than just an internal council investigation as if reports are true this is an unbelievable breach of data protection.”

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