Peterborough charity apologises after data breach of families with disabled children

The community centre in Orton Goldhay where Family Voice is based
The community centre in Orton Goldhay where Family Voice is based
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A Peterborough charity has apologised after a survey it carried out accidentally revealed confidential information about families with disabled children.

Family Voice Peterborough conducted the survey on behalf of Peterborough City Council to help it recommission its Short Breaks offering - day based opportunities for children and young people with disabilities.

However, private information including contact details of parents who took part in the survey were inadvertently made public.

Children’s disabilities were also revealed, although not the names of the children. Family Voice insisted it was not possible to identify which disability a named child had from the published information.

The data breach, which has now been removed, occurred last April but only came to light a few weeks ago when it was published on a private Facebook page.

The Family Voice Peterborough board of trustees said: “We have apologised already, and would like to again, to anyone affected by the data breach.

“Efforts have been made to contact the individuals concerned and personal apologies have been given. We have also made changes to our internal practices to try and ensure, as far as possible, that there is never a repeat of this situation.”

Family Voice, a forum of parent carers of children and young people with disabilities/additional needs, also referred itself to the Information Commissioner’s Office. A spokeswoman for the ICO said it was “satisfied” with the charity’s remedial action and will not be taking further action.

Parents are also upset about the loss of Phoenix School’s £88,000 funding to provide Saturday trips and after schools clubs after the Short Breaks service was recommissioned, with more money instead going to Vivacity, Scope and Circles Network.

A parent of a child who attends the special school, who did not wish to be named, said the recommissioning process had been a “shambles”.

She added: “Our children can’t just go to other places. We would not have managed without the clubs Phoenix have been putting on. Parents will go into crisis.”

The council said its Short Breaks service “meets the local need, giving children and young people the opportunity to enjoy a variety of beneficial activities” and that it had “carried out a competitive tendering exercise”.

Charlotte Whysall, Phoenix headteacher, said the school will support parents and carers to access other Short Break services.