Plymouth City Council has been served with a monetary penalty of £60,000 by the Information Commissioner's Office (ICO) after details of a child neglect case were sent to the wrong recipient.
According to the ICO, the report included ‘highly sensitive' personal information about two parents and four children, notably allegations of child neglect resulting in ongoing care proceedings.
In the incident, a social worker used a printer on a different floor, which lead to papers being mixed up and the information being sent to the wrong person. The ICO said that another family received the information and called the data controller to report this, who advised the incorrect recipient that it was confidential.
An independent audit determined human error as the cause, as well a failure in the "level of checks in order to ensure the documents were being sent to the correct recipient".
The ICO's investigation found that the council had no secure system in place for printing reports containing sensitive personal data, and had failed to take reasonable steps to ensure reports were checked before they were sent out.
Stephen Eckersley, head of enforcement at the ICO, said: “It would be too easy to consider this a simple human error. The reality is that this incident happened because not enough care was being taken within the organisation when handling vulnerable people's sensitive information. The distress this incident will have caused the people involved is obvious, and the penalty we have issued today reflects that.”