William Eichler 16 August 2016

County fined for leaving ‘sensitive’ documents in disused building

Hampshire County Council has been fined thousands of pounds after documents containing personal details of over 100 people were found in a disused building.

The Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) has given Hampshire a £100,000 fine after social care files containing sensitive information about adults and children were discovered in a former council building.

The new owners of the premises discovered the files - along with 45 bags of confidential waste - in August 2014 and reported it.

‘Hampshire County Council failed to ensure that highly sensitive personal data about adults and children in vulnerable circumstances was disposed of,’ said Steve Eckersley, ICO head of enforcement.

‘The council knew the building had housed a department that dealt with confidential information and should have had a proper procedure in place to check no personal data was left in the building.’

Mr Eckersley said organisations must implement contingency plans to protect personal data when decommissioning buildings.

‘The council’s failure to look after this information was irresponsible. It not only broke the law but put vulnerable people at risk,’ he added.

Responding to the fine, Hampshire CC said: 'We are very sorry that this incident occurred. Hampshire County Council takes the management and protection of its data very seriously.

'Accordingly, appropriate procedures were in place at the time, but unfortunately, on this occasion, the process was not fully adhered to.

'Immediate steps were taken to investigate the matter fully, and remedial action was taken. This has included strengthened and improved processes in the removal of, and destruction of, confidential waste from vacated buildings.'

The council added that no information was disclosed outside of the site.

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