Data protection watchdog the Information Commissioner's Office (ICO) has rapped child protection service the Scottish Children's Reporter Administration (SCRA) after two separate breaches that exposed sensitive data on children.
The first incident occurred when nine case files – containing names, dates of birth, social reports and referral decisions – were left in a filing cabinet that was subsequently removed and sold on to a second-hand furniture shop.
Four months later another breach occurred when legal papers relating to a child's court hearing were emailed to the wrong address, exposing details about physical abuse and identifying the mother and witnesses.
The ICO criticised the SCRA for failing to ensure its guidance on data protection and IT security was followed by staff.
"The fact that sensitive information was mishandled not once but twice by the same organisation is concerning," said assistant commissioner for Scotland, Ken Macdonald.
"On both occasions the personal data which was compromised related to young children and was caused by human errors that could easily have been avoided. Luckily, on both occasions, the information was not circulated widely."
The chief executive of the SCRA was forced to sign an undertaking promising to ensure staff know its policy on the storage and use of personal data, and that enough checks are put in place to ensure the policy is followed.
With the ICO again deciding not to fine after highly sensitive information was exposed by an organisation, commentators are likely to renew calls for a tougher approach from the data protection watchdog.
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