Kent County Council is top of data loss list

Woman using laptop Big Brother Watch director Nick Pickles said questions needed to be asked about thefts from cars

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Kent County Council (KCC) has been named in a report as the worst-offending local authority in the UK for loss of private data.

KCC took joint first place with Buckinghamshire in the list compiled by Big Brother Watch, with 72 incidents reported between 2008 and 2011.

In one incident, an outreach worker lost a memory stick containing personal data of 30 pupils from 16 schools.

KCC said it was a large council and it was no surprise it came top.

Incidents included stolen laptops, documents left on the outside of cars before being driven away, correspondence sent to the wrong people, emails sent in error, and loss of memory sticks.

In one case, a child's medical report was sent to the wrong parents.

'No margin for error'

Nick Pickles, director of Big Brother Watch, said "concerning examples" included the theft of a laptop and diary from a social worker's car, and the theft of a briefcase containing client notes from a car.

Start Quote

We have a robust information security incident protocol in place”

End Quote KCC spokesman

He said: "There are lots of questions that should be asked, for example, is material left in cars overnight, are cars left in public places and the information is on public view?"

He added: "I think they [KCC] should be commended for being transparent about how many incidents they've had, because I think some authorities certainly haven't been.

"However, when it comes to a situation where for example a child's medical report was sent to the wrong set of parents, there really is no margin for error."

A KCC spokesman said: "It is no surprise that we come out top as we are the largest shire authority in the country."

He added: "We have a robust information security incident protocol in place, so consequently we log, monitor and investigate all reports of any alleged security breaches, regardless of cause or eventual outcome."

Adding that the report highlighted an incident where scanned case notes relating to children were found on Facebook, he said: "The Facebook example cited was as a result of a family member posting scanned images of social service case notes (obtained via court proceedings) on the web.

"The Information Commissioner's Office considered KCC blameless in this case."

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