Pupils’ details lost by council

Marie Savage with children Poppy and Kit
Marie Savage with children Poppy and Kit
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PERSONAL details of more than 1000 schoolchildren in East Lothian have been mislaid following a security blunder by a council official.

The records, which had been downloaded on to a private memory stick, were taken home and later lost by a council worker who has now been suspended.

The missing storage device included names, ages, class, emergency contacts and in some cases medical history, of 1075 pupils at primary schools in Dunbar, East Linton, Innerwick, Stenton and West Barns.

Parents were informed about the gaffe by letter yesterday, in which council education chief Don Ledingham issued an unreserved apology.

In the letter, Mr Ledingham said: “You gave the council this information on your own child, trusting that we would properly protect it.

“I believe therefore, that it is my duty to tell you what has happened and to apologise unreservedly for any distress this matter may cause.”

Despite the file being password protected, he explained, the device had not been encrypted, which was in “clear breach” of council IT policy.

Mr Ledingham added: “I am very sorry that, as the result of the actions of one member of staff, we have let you down. We will do our best to ensure that this does not happen again.”

Marie Savage, 40, whose two children attend Dunbar Primary School, said she was relaxed about the data loss but could understand other parents’ anxieties.

“I know what information is on there and as far as my children are concerned I’m not too worried, though it may be that other parents will be more concerned about it,” she said.

“The council has been very upfront and I appreciate the fact that they have notified us.”

Dee Davison, co-chair of the Dunbar Parent Council, said: “I’m glad that we were notified but obviously it’s a concern when something like this happens.

“While the data loss was very unfortunate, most parents will understand how easy it is to lose a memory stick. We appreciate that ELC is treating this matter very seriously.”

This is not the first time East Lothian Council has been involved in a data protection bungle. In September 2010, the News reported how personal details and criminal convictions of taxi drivers had been published online following a council blunder.

Full details of licensing applications – including convictions ranging from minor driving offences to drug dealing – appeared on East Lothian Council’s website.