Berkshire

Wokingham Council sorry for sharing sex abuse victim's details

Wokingham Borough Council offices Image copyright Google
Image caption Wokingham Borough Council has launched an investigation following the data breach

A council which twice forwarded details of a victim of child sexual abuse to her attacker has apologised for the mistake.

Wokingham Borough Council shared the information despite a lifetime ban on contact between the victim and her attacker, a report has found.

The victim's mother described the failures as "life-changing".

Pauline Helliar-Symons, the council's executive member for children's services, said sorry for the error.

She said: "I apologise unreservedly on behalf of the council to this family for the distress we have caused them.

Sensitive information

"We have fully accepted the Ombudsman's report and are implementing its recommendations," she added in a statement to the Local Democracy Reporting Service (LDRS).

The council has also put into place additional measures around record keeping and internal reporting, as well as mandatory training for staff on how to handle sensitive and personal information.

The Local Government Ombudsman (LGO) found the council had breached confidentiality twice, as the worker re-sent a redacted version of the information once the initial mistake was flagged up.

Wokingham council had previously been directed to pay the victim's mother more than £10,000 in legal fees after it failed to properly investigate reports dating back to 2011.

Promises 'not kept'

In 2013, the council apologised after closing its case on the attacker, despite ongoing police investigations. He was convicted in 2014 of sexual assault and jailed for two years.

The mother of the victim said: "Three years ago the council promised me... they would carry out more training and improve their record keeping and that 'learnings' were taken from their mistakes.

"However, they failed to implement any of that and my family had to endure more failings which caused huge distress..."

The council has been ordered to reward the victim's mother £11,825 in legal fees.

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