HAMPSHIRE County Council has been fined £100,000 after social care files containing confidential information on over 100 people were found in a disused building.
The Information Commissioner’s Office has criticised the council’s ‘irresponsible’ failure to protect the documents found at Town End House in Havant.
The Commissioner said the documents discovered at the office on East Street contained personal and ‘highly sensitive’ details of over 100 adults and children in vulnerable circumstances.
Town End House was vacated by Hampshire County Council’s Adults and Children’s Services in July 2012.
Over 45 bags of confidential waste were also found by the new owners of Town End House when they purchased the building in August 2014.
ICO’s head of enforcement, Steve Eckersley, has said that organisations ‘must implement effective contingency plans’ to protect sensitive data when decommissioning buildings.
He said: ‘The council’s failure to look after this information was irresponsible. It not only broke the law but put vulnerable people at risk.’
‘Thank goodness the company reported the find of personal details. If the information had ended up in the wrong hands it could have had distressing consequences.’
Councillor Chris Wood, UKIP group leader for Hampshire County Council, also criticised the council’s discrepancies.
He said: ‘This is an outrageously irresponsible and ultimately very expensive mistake which absolutely cannot be allowed to happen again.
‘We must be given a clear explanation as to how this occurred and cast iron assurances that it will not be repeated.’