Confusion over social work data leak in Dumfries

A police report suggests the files were found in a car park, but not the one behind the social work offices in Dumfries’ Irish Street. According to the force, the three files, which contained details of criminals and their victims, were picked up by two tourists from Manchester in the Whitesands.

The pair then took them right across town to police headquarters at Cornwall Mount where they handed them in.

It’s an entirely different version of events from that described by social work director John Alexander.

He said the documents had been dropped next to a social worker’s car at the department car park near the offices.

Within five minutes she had realised they were missing and recovered them from police within 20 minutes.

At the time a council spokeswoman denied the files had been found in the Whitesands.

But asked about their discovery, a police spokesman later said: “I can confirm two tourists handed the documents into police headquarters at Cornwall Mount and said they had found the documents on the Whitesands in Dumfries.”

The council, however, is sticking to its version of events. The spokeswoman said this week: “The council’s information is that the file was mislaid in the car park at Irish Street at the rear of the social work department. This matter is subject to an investigation so the council is unable to comment further.”

The matter has been reported to the Scottish Information Commissioner and is the second data leak within a few weeks.

Last week’s story came just hours after councillors agreed a new data protection policy which was designed to tighten up procedures.

Yesterday, the leader of the council’s opposition Labour Group, Ronnie Nicholson said: “The fact we still don’t know exactly how this latest data blunder occurred again shows why the council were wrong to keep it secret from councillors during the debate on the new data protection policy.

“It is ridiculous for them to claim lessons have been learned when it seems they can’t even get their story straight on where the documents were dropped.

“The council is trying to keep the facts about these data leaks hidden.”