Worker sacked in data breach

Peter Jefferson, Chief Executive of Blackpool Coastal Housing
Peter Jefferson, Chief Executive of Blackpool Coastal Housing
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A BLACKPOOL Coastal Housing worker was sacked after a serious breach of security left confidential tenants data at risk.

Fuming Blackpool Coastal Housing (BCH) residents contacted The Gazette after the details of more than 80 tenants – some living in sheltered accommodation – were taken away on a computer memory stick.

The female BCH worker put the confidential data on her home computer which other people had access to.

She has now been dismissed and BCH bosses have apologised to their tenants.

The information included names, addresses, telephone numbers and confidential care plans.

One person affected said: “Blackpool Coastal Housing has told me these details have been taken including our names, National Insurance numbers, addresses – things which can be sold.

“I know they’ve sacked the person but is anything further going to be done?

“They’ve just said they’ll make sure it won’t happen again but how do we know that?”

Another resident added: “It’s utterly outrageous. What have other people found out about me which should remain between me and Blackpool Coastal Housing?

“I don’t want other people knowing what care I need or what my diet is – it’s none of their business.

“Who’s going to be knocking on my door tomorrow? It’s terrible thinking someone else could know all about me – probably more than I know myself.”

The breach came to light after BCH bosses got in touch with all those affected last week to inform them of the problem.

It is currently being investigated by the Information Commissioner, the Ministry of Justice department set up to ensure people’s information is protected, after they were called in by BCH.

A spokesman for the office said: “We have been informed of a potential breach and we will be making inquiries in due course.”

BCH chief executive Peter Jefferson said: “I want to apologise unreservedly to the tenants whose personal details may have been disclosed.

“We believe the risk of these being passed on to any third party is very low as we have been told they were deleted from the device.

“Nevertheless we are speaking to all affected tenants and letting them know what has happened.

“No financial or banking details were included in the data.”

Police said they were aware of the situation, but have yet to decide how to proceed.

BCH is an arms-length management organisation created by Blackpool Council, and took over management and maintenance responsibilities for the council’s 5,500 properties in January 2007.