Essex

Girl in care's address 'disclosed in error' by Essex County Council

A woman whose daughter had been taken into care was mistakenly given details of the child's new address.

A "para-legal" at Essex County Council sent the woman documents containing the names and address of a couple who had been earmarked to adopt the girl.

Details of the error emerged in a ruling on the case at a family court hearing at Chelmsford.

The council said it had apologised and was reviewing its service, systems and processes.

The woman had mounted an unsuccessful attempt to block her daughter's adoption and had been given documentation because she was representing herself at a hearing.

The couple were caring for the girl, now aged four, when their whereabouts was disclosed within the papers.

'Mother behaved responsibly'

Mrs Justice Parker said the woman was to be "commended" for alerting the council to the error.

"An inquiry is being put in hand by Essex," she added. "I am satisfied it has taken this matter extremely seriously."

She added: "The mother has behaved responsibly in regard to this wholly unwarranted disclosure."

Mrs Justice Parker said a judge had ruled that the girl should be taken from the woman's care after social workers raised concerns about drug use.

She said she had concluded that the woman had "no prospect" of overturning an adoption order.

The judge said she did not "blame" the woman. She said she regarded substance abuse as an illness.

A council spokesman said: "This was a serious but one-off error by an administrative team member who had been trained on the importance of information security.

"We took immediate action to ensure that no threat to the family materialised. We have apologised and worked with them to ensure that any possible future risk is avoided."

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