Confidential case file ‘given to wrong family’

Chad has revealed a shocking breach of confidential information by Nottinghamshire County Council’s social services department after a detailed report of one family’s case history was delivered to the wrong family.

The family that received the report, who cannot be named for legal reasons, came to us to express their concern that sensitive information was falling into the wrong hands because of social services blunders.

They said that they had a copy of the report sent through the post, and one hand-delivered by a social worker.

They have also been under investigation by social services.

The female said: “I sat and read it but I could only read certain bits because it made me that sick.”

The couple said they were worried that documents about them could be delivered to other people in the area in error.

“We have already got people saying stuff about us that we never did,” the woman said.

“They need to get the system sorted.”

The family received the report months ago and say they told both their solicitor and social worker.

The solicitor told them to keep hold of it because it could be used in their favour, while the social worker told them the only reason they would have received the document was to do with their case - even though they did not know the family written about in any way.

The report includes details such as the names, addresses and even the school that the children involved attended, as well as the dates and locations of court hearings.

There is information on the entire chronology of the family’s dealings with social services.

Some of the episodes that it details include:

l incidents of domestic violence, with some committed in front of young children

l reports that schools had expressed concerns about poor attendance

l reports that children were left with inappropriate babysitters or left unattended while the mother was using alcohol

l incidents of drug use, including intravenous drug use in front of the children. Drugs mentioned include heroin, amphetamine, cocaine, LSD.

l reports that children have missed meals as a result of no food being in the house

l arrests for criminal offences.

One shocking incident mentioned in the report even states that one child took an ecstasy tablet after it was mistaken for a paracetamol.

Information is given about child protection plans for neglect and there are intricate details about the care arrangements of the children.

The family who received the report said: “We think if this family knew we had had their paperwork, they would be very upset.”

Steve Edwards, service director for Children’s Social care at Nottinghamshire County Council, said: “Nottinghamshire County Council takes its responsibilities for data protection extremely seriously.

“We will investigate this matter as thoroughly as possible, albeit our enquiries will be restricted by not knowing who is making the allegation and not having the opportunity to speak to them directly to establish the exact circumstances.

“We are perplexed as to why, if this information was given to someone in error, they would keep it for at least six months and then choose to give it to a local newspaper rather than return it to the county council or hand it to the police - either of which they could have done annonymously if they had wished.

“If our investigation does conclude that the council has breached its responsibilities under the data protection act then appropriate action will be taken.”