A HIGHLY confidential police file containing the name and personal details of a teenage rape victim has been found on a Blackpool street.
The 10-page document contains a photograph of the girl, who had been reported missing to the police, as well as details of her age, address, home and mobile phone numbers, school and even sexuality.
It also makes reference to her being raped by a teenage boy and gives the name of the offender.
The Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) today vowed to investigate “a possible data breach” and Blackpool Police has now launched its own internal inquiry after being alerted to the missing document by The Gazette.
The teenager, who lives with foster carers in the resort, had been reported missing earlier this month.
A dog walker came across the stapled sheets of paper on the ground on North Drive in Anchorsholme around 8.25am on Saturday.
He said: “It’s scandalous. I’m appalled so much confidential information has been left on the street. I was walking along North Drive when I noticed some paper on the ground. I picked it up to put it in the bin and then it hit me what it actually was.
“What if a paedophile had got hold of it? This is about a vulnerable girl who has gone missing and there are her personal details for everyone to see.
“There are accusations about members of the public and what they are suspected of.
“There are 10 pages of it – someone has been very careless.
“It’s so dangerous to have information like this lying around.”
The report describes actions by police officers following the girl’s disappearance – including a visit to an ex-boyfriend who is described as being a convicted sex offender.
The file also discloses the name and contact details for her foster carer, her parents, and other “associates”, including a suspected rapist.
The document had been printed off Lancashire Police’s computer system, known as SLEUTH.
Calls are now being made for a review to find out how the information was left on a street.
Paul Maynard, MP for Blackpool North and Cleveleys, said: “This is a matter of great concern.
“I applaud The Gazette for handing the document to the police. I hope the police will look into it as soon as possible.”
And Gordon Marsden, MP for Blackpool South, said: “It’s a concern. Hopefully the police will be able to find out the circumstances surrounding how it was left outside as soon as possible and produce an explanation on it.”
The teenager is described as a “medium” risk and was put under the category of “juvenile in need of protection or who poses a threat”.
She had a history of being missing from home and had previously disappeared.
A spokesman from the Information Commissioner’s Office said: “We have been informed of a possible data breach which may involve Lancashire Constabulary. We will be making inquiries into the circumstances of the alleged breach of the Data Protection Act before deciding what action, if any, needs to be taken.”
The dog walker added: “I found it at 8.25am on Saturday. It hadn’t been there the previous night.
“Questions need to be asked. There needs to be an investigation. Whoever is responsible needs to
answer some questions.
“Why did this information leave the office for all to see? It may as well have been put up on a notice board.”
The police, who say the girl was found safe and well a couple of days later, have already begun an internal inquiry.
Insp David Old, operations inspector for central Blackpool, said: “I’m grateful to The Gazette for bringing it to our attention.
“I have commenced an internal inquiry to establish how these documents have come into the public domain, but until I’ve got further on with the inquiry I am keeping an open mind as to how the paper work has fallen into the hands of the public.
“There will be a look at procedures and if there is a lesson to be learnt procedurally from this, we will.”
The discovery of the file comes after it was revealed 30 Lancashire officers and staff have abused access to confidential files.
Earlier this month, The Gazette reported how four police staff were sacked, one resigned and five were given final warnings.
In Blackpool, it was alleged a police officer used computer systems to access information about a woman and then disclosed it “inappropriately”.
The officer, who allegedly committed the breach in 2009, resigned before a disciplinary hearing was held.
Another Lancashire Police worker was sacked after they posted confidential police information on social networking site Facebook.