Pupil records found dumped in a country lane and 20 missing ipads are among dozens of Stoke City Council data breaches, a StaffsLive investigation has revealed.
There has been a sharp rise in cases involving the loss or breach of sensitive or personal data held by the city council.
Figures obtained under the Freedom of Information Act show that there were 21 breaches in 2012, 18 in 2011 and seven in 2010.
This compares to six in 2009 and just two in 2008.
And in 2013, there have already been 10 breaches.
Cllr Dave Conway, of Little Chell and Stanfield ward, said: “I am extremely concerned about this increase. This could be anyone’s personal data and could be extremely serious and embarrassing.
“The council needs to get a grip of this quickly otherwise we are going to get fined time and time again.”
The increase follows a £120,000 penalty imposed by the Information Commissioner last year after emails intended for legal counsel were sent to the wrong address.
Public and private organisations are legally obliged to protect personal information they hold under the Data Protection Act and are held to account by the Information Commissioner’s Office.
Other breaches at the council included in the list obtained by StaffLive include:
- two computers found in a skip
- an unwiped laptop sent for disposal
- passwords to council computer system visible to the public
- memory sticks lost
- council databases open or breached
Charlie Stewart, the city council’s assistant chief executive, said: “The council has enhanced its security systems and we want to reassure residents their personal information is safe.
“We have implemented additional procedures to help prevent future breaches.
“In recent months, all staff have been given data protection training and all strategic managers have been given security training.
“We have acted swiftly following the ICO’s recommendations and I’m now confident we have improved our security.”