The London Borough of Barnet was fined £70,000 by the Information Commissioner for losing paper records containing highly sensitive and confidential information, including the names, addresses, dates of birth and other details of 15 vulnerable children or young people.

A social worker took the paper records home to work on them out of hours and was unfortunately burgled. Why would a criminal steal worthless paperwork? Well the paperwork was inside a laptop bag complete with laptop.

The Information Commissioner’s Office investigation found the council had “failed to take appropriate organisational measures against the accidental loss of personal data held on paper records. Although the council had an information security policy and some guidance for staff on handling sensitive papers, the measures failed to explain how the information should be kept secure”.

This is the second fine for this council after is lost an unencrypted device containing personal data was stolen from an employee’s home in June 2010.

Simon Entwisle, the ICO’s Director of Operations, said:

“The potential for damage and distress in this case is obvious. It is therefore extremely disappointing the council had not put in place sufficient measures in time to avoid this second loss.

“While we are pleased that Barnet Council has now taken action to keep the personal data they use secure, it is vitally important that organisations have the correct guidance in place to keep sensitive paper records taken outside of the office safe. This includes storing papers containing sensitive information separately from laptops.”