Herts CC fined �100,000 for serious data breaches

A FINE of �100,000 has been issued to Hertfordshire County Council after its employees faxed sensitive information, including details of a child sex abuse case, to the wrong people.

The breaches occurred in June when employees from the council’s childcare litigation unit accidentally sent two faxes to the wrong recipients within a fortnight.

The information commissioner, who issued the fine, said he was “concerned” by the mistakes.

Christopher 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.”

Herts CC’s first fax was meant for a barristers’ chambers and contained information on the case, which was before the court, and was sent to a member of the public.

The council subsequently obtained a court injunction prohibiting disclosure of the information.

Another member of the unit sent a misdirected fax, 13 days later, containing information relating to the care proceedings of three children, the previous convictions of two individuals and domestic violence records to the wrong number.

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The document was intended for Watford County Court but was sent to a barristers’ chamber unconnected with the case.

Both breaches of the Data Protection Act were reported to the information commissioner.

A spokesman for the council said: “We are sorry that this mistake happened and have put processes in place to try to prevent any recurrence.

“We accept the findings of the commissioner.”

This is one of the first times an organisation has been issued with a fine for a serious breach of the Data Protection Act.

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