Child neglect allegations and adoption records sent to wrong people in blunders that cost councils 150,000

Child neglect allegations and adoption records sent to wrong people in blunders that cost councils 150,000Two councils mistakenly sent personal data out, including child neglect and criminal allegationsReport blames 'human error' and 'inadequate' checksPlymouth City Council and Devon County Council fined for errors

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UPDATED:

23:18 GMT, 17 December 2012

Two local authorities have been fined for a series of blunders that saw sensitive child welfare documents sent to the wrong people, it has emerged.

Allegations of child neglect against parents of four were sent to the wrong family because of an error by Plymouth County Council.

In the other case Devon County Council mistakenly sent details of alleged criminal offences and the health records of 22 people to an adoption panel.

Mistakes: An investigation found two councils had sent sensitive details about criminal allegations and health reports to the wrong people. Pictured is Plymouth County Council's Civic Centre

Mistakes: An investigation found two councils had sent sensitive details about criminal allegations and health reports to the wrong people. Pictured is Plymouth County Council's Civic Centre

Plymouth City Council was fined 60,000 by the Information Commissioner and Devon County Council was fined 90,000.

Both councils have since given staff training on handling sensitive documents.

A report by the Information Commissioner said that in November 2011 a social worker in Plymouth's Children's Services had written a report intended for a local family which detailed alleged child neglect.

Blunder: Child neglect allegations against parents of four were sent to an entirely different family

Blunder: Child neglect allegations against parents of four were sent to a different family. File picture

But a faulty photocopier in the office meant the report was printed in another office, where it was bundled together with another document by a different social worker and sent to the wrong family.

The family realised the mistake and reported it.

The Information Commissioner report blamed 'human error' and inadequate checks on documents.

The department now has a number of new procedures including the use of staff ID numbers before documents can be printed.

In Devon, a social worker used an old case as a template for an adoption panel report they were writing in May 2011.

But a copy of the old case report was sent to the panel instead of the new one, according to the Information Commissioner's findings.

The mistake revealed sensitive personal data about 22 people, including details of alleged criminal offences and mental and physical health.

Information Commissioner Christopher Graham said: 'Far too often in these cases, the councils do not appear to have acknowledged that the data they are handling is about real people, and often the more vulnerable members of society.

'The distress that these incidents would have caused to the people involved is obvious.'