SECRET CHILD DATA FOUND IN THE STREET; Call for Inquiry after Memory Stick Containing Details of Children at Risk and Medical Records Found
Byline: Jessica Shankleman
THE Vale of Glamorgan council is at the centre of a second major controversy after a computer memory stick containing confidential child protection information was found on the street.
The stick, which also allegedly contained medical records and details of court cases, was not encrypted or password-protected and its loss was only revealed after the person who found it took it home and recognised a man named on it.
That man - who had in the past been cleared of child abuse allegations - spoke of his "horror" at the discovery, and an investigation into how the memory stick was lost is being carried out by Vale council.
It is the second time in less than a month the council has come under fire.
Just over three weeks ago, the Echo revealed how the council's social services department placed a known teenage sex offender with a family with two young children who were both seriously sexually assaulted by the teenager.
The man named on the stick, who asked to remain anonymous, said: "I am disgusted by it.
"I would have expected an apology when it happened to say they had lost the stick with information regarding my young son, but they didn't even bother to say it had been returned safely.
"I have been paranoid for the last couple of weeks.
"When I see people walking down the street or past my house they will think I am a child abuser, even though we were cleared.
"It's horrendous. I was paranoid I might even be blackmailed."
In February, the man was approached by an acquaintance who told him he had seen his name on the memory stick, found by the council offices in Barry.
He said: "I was on the platform at Cardiff train station and there was a person there I hadn't seen for five years.
"He said to me: 'You'll never guess what I found the other day. I was walking down Holton Road and I found a memory stick from a computer.' "He was able to tell me details of medical notes and about cases I hadn't told him about to do with my family. I was pretty shocked."
Vale AM Jane Hutt said: "I am extremely concerned to hear this data may have been lost and I have contacted the Vale of Glamorgan council to ask for a full explanation.
"I have also written to the Deputy Minister for Social Services, Gwenda Thomas AM, to express my concerns."
A council spokesperson said: "We are carrying out an investigation into this matter. …