A north MP has said Highland Council’s data breach has raised “serious questions”over the policies which remain in place to safeguard confidential information.
Scotland’s largest local authority launched an urgent investigation on Monday after confidential documents about more than two dozen children were found by a member of the public.
The eight page document, discovered among general waste outside the Inverness headquarters, contains full names, dates of birth and case numbers of 28 children – one as young as eight months old.
The council are expected to report the breach to the Information Commissioner today in keeping with their 72 hour deadline.
MP Ian Blackford said “lessons have to be learned” to make sure that such a breach never arises again.
He added: “It’s a deeply worrying incident and unfortunately it does raise serious questions about Highland Council’s data protection policies. They are duty bound to report themselves to the Information Commissioner and that must be done within a short timeframe. The commissioner’s office will then begin their own investigation and I am sure they will fully take onboard the seriousness of the situation.
“Highland Council must also take the lead on this from the very top to ensure that such an incident never happens again. It’s quite simple; this sort of thing is not acceptable.
“I would assume the Council will be punished and you are then perhaps throwing money away for a situation that should never arise, it beggars belief. Lessons have to be learned from this.”
The confidential panel minutes were first discovered by a resident whilst investigating concerns of fly-tipping in the area.
The papers including sticky notes relating to queries put to the council were found on the ground and in ripped open bin bags at the top of an open bin.
Councillor Ian Brown added: “Obviously to be binned like that, it’s no acceptable at all on any level. I am sure there are safe guards in place but obviously there is something happened or something has gone severely wrong for this to happen.
“Until the investigation has taken its course it’s really hard to comment because it may be a one-off incident, but I am sure there will be extra safeguards put in place or there needs to be to make sure this never happens again.”
A Highland Council spokeswoman said they were “unable to offer any further comment until the investigation has been completed.”