ICO says loss of sensitive and personal information about children by London-based Norwood Ravenswood Ltd was "entirely avoidable"
A social care charity that lost sensitive and personal information about children has been issued with a hefty fine.
The Information Commissioner's Office (ICO) described the loss as "truly staggering and "entirely unavoidable", adding that the seriousness of the breach left it with no choice but to fine the charity.
A social worker at Norwood Ravenswood Ltd left detailed reports at the side of a house in December 2011, after attempting to deliver the papers to the children's prospective adoptive parents.
The reports contained sensitive information including details of any neglect or abuse suffered by the children along with information about their families. The report was no longer at the side of the house when the family returned and it has never been recovered.
When the ICO investigated the breach, it found that the worker in question had received no data protection training, a requirement under the charity's own policy.
The ICO added that very sensitive details about children no more than six years old could be in the hands of strangers.
Stephen Eckersley, head of enforcement at the ICO, said that charities had been warned about compliance with data protection laws.
Eckersley said: "We have warned the charity sector that they must have thorough policies and procedures in place to keep the often sensitive information they handle secure.
"We do not want to be issuing monetary penalties to charities, but in this case the seriousness of the breach left us with little choice."
The ICO added that it hoped the breach and resulting fine would act as a warning to all charities to fulfil their legal requirements under the Data Protection Act.
A spokesperson from the Norwood charity said "immediate steps" had been taken to ensure the incident will not be repeated.
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