Files On ‘Children At Risk’ Found In Car Park

COMPUTER memory sticks containing sensitive and confidential information about children at risk have been found lying in a car park. A member of the public came across them in Ley Street car park, Ilford.

Data on the two memory sticks – each smaller than a match box – appear to be the work of a student social worker.

Along with essays, dissertations, and case studies relating to coursework, are a number of highly sensitive documents relating to three families being investigated by social services.

Full names, dates of birth, and some addresses are included.

The files are mostly Microsoft Word documents and are not password protected.

A 48-page document gives a detailed assessment of a teenage boy stating he was placed on the child protection register under the category of “neglect” and refers to claims that his mother was abused by her former partner.

Another file relates to an application to have five young children taken into care.

It lists allegations that their mother had been taking class A drugs, and was involved in a relationship with a “violent man with a history of drug abuse”.

The man who found the sticks found them about five months ago.

He said: “I wanted it to be publicly known if someone has been careless over security.”

They have now been handed to Redbridge Council.

A spokesman for the council said: “This is a highly regrettable and isolated incident and we have now launched an internal investigation.

“The limited amount of data was downloaded on to a data stick by a student social worker, who was with the council for a short period of time, without the knowledge or authorisation of her supervisor, who then lost the memory sticks and failed to report this.

“Following the completion of her practice placement the student returned to college.

“She is due to be interviewed by us.

“The council will ensure that any child or person named in the data on the memory sticks are contacted to advise them of this loss of data and to apologise.