Beds, Herts & Bucks

Council fined £100,000 after child sex abuse fax error

A council has been fined £100,000 after mistakenly faxing child sex abuse case details to a member of the public.

Two weeks later, Hertfordshire County Council's childcare litigation unit also sent another fax about a different case to the wrong recipient.

The council took out a court order to prevent details of the sex abuse case from emerging after the error in June.

The Information Commissioner Christopher Graham fined the council for breaching the Data Protection Act.

The first fax was meant to be sent to barristers' chambers but was instead sent to the member of the public.

The second fax, sent 13 days later by a different employee, contained information relating to the care proceedings of three children, the previous convictions of two individuals, domestic violence records and the opinions of care professionals.

'Concern' at breach

Instead of going to Watford County Court, it was sent to a barristers' chambers unconnected with the case.

The council reported the breaches to the Information Commissioner's office.

Mr Graham said: "It is difficult to imagine information more sensitive than that relating to a child sex abuse case.

"I am concerned at this breach - not least because the local authority allowed it to happen twice within two weeks."

A spokesman for Hertfordshire County Council said: "We are sorry that these mistakes happened and have put processes in place to try to prevent any recurrence.

"We accept the findings of the commissioner."

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