Children’s services under investigation for possible breach of data

Director of children's services Malcolm Newsam
Director of children's services Malcolm Newsam
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An investigation has been launched over two potential data breaches by Peterborough City Council’s children’s services department.

It has emerged that staff at the under-fire department sent confidential details about one family referred to social care to a second family, before emailing a subsequent apology featuring detailed information to all 57 councillors on the council.

When the mother in the second family expressed concern that she had received the wrong information and took it up with her local councillor, the explanation and apology was emailed out to all councillors instead of just the one.

It revealed details of the second family’s ongoing case, including names of family members involved, details of their contact with social workers from the council and problems encountered by staff working the case.

Today the city council admitted there had been a possible breach but refused to say what happened and what, if anything, had been done to stop it happening again.

Malcolm Newsam, director of children’s services at Peterborough City Council, said in a statement: “Whilst it is not possible to comment in detail on individual cases, I can confirm we are investigating a breach of confidential data in relation to a case being handled by the city council’s children’s services department.

“The council takes these matters extremely seriously and has instigated a thorough investigation to establish the cause and will take appropriate action following the conclusion of that investigation. In the meantime, we have apologised to the individuals concerned.”

Asked if the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO), an independent body which investigates alleged breaches of data protection laws, had launched an investigation - a council spokeswoman said she did not know.

When the PT contacted the ICO, a spokesman asked for details to be sent.

Councillor John Fox received the email and sent it straight back to the council.

He said: “It’s not acceptable but people do make mistakes. Everyone has sent an email out to the wrong person.

“As soon as I saw it wasn’t for me I sent it straight back. We are councillors and as a councillor we have to be responsible.

“I’m not sure if it’s broken any laws because it has not gone outside the council.”