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Investigation after laptop with details of boy in care was bought at a car boot sale

Shaun Coffell, 29, found a number of files belonging to Sunderland City Council on the laptop Photo: NCJM

A laptop containing sensitive information about a young boy in a council’s care system was bought at a car boot sale in Blaydon.

Shaun Coffell, 29, found a number of files belonging to Sunderland City Council on the laptop.

The material includes a care plan for a young child dating back to June 2014, an assessment of proposed carers dated 2010, and personal information of social service staff.

A Sunderland City Council spokesperson said they have robust procedures to make sure social care records are stored securely.

Shaun, of Gateshead, said: “I plugged the laptop in and noticed a few files marked care and I clicked on one and noticed it was a child’s care plan for a boy and it had full names, contact details, the homes he was in, why he was there.

“There is also a file for an application on future foster carers with details and a social services contact for someone working for Sunderland council along with her details and even house address and car registration and a badge number.”

Shaun added: “I’m just glad it didn’t fall into someone else’s hands that could have done these people harm.”

A spokesperson for the local authority said: “We would like to thank the gentleman concerned for getting in touch to help us to begin to establish what has happened, and for his co-operation in arranging for the retrieval of the laptop.

“Sunderland City Council and its partner agencies take the protection of data very seriously.

“We have robust procedures to ensure that sensitive material such as social care records is stored securely and is encrypted by default on staff laptops to protect the privacy of customers.

“Staff will be reminded that they must not use un-encrypted equipment, and to immediately report the loss of any IT equipment.”