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23 November 2011, 05:00
An adoption worker at Buckinghamshire County Council left sensitive information at an airport, Heart's been told.
The data breach has come out in a report by the civil liberties campaign group Big Brother Watch.
In response to freedom of information requests (FOI), 132 authorities across the UK said that they had experienced a total of 1,035 incidents of data loss or theft between 2008 and 2011.
Information about at least 3,100 children and young people was compromised in 118 cases, said the report.
At least 244 laptops and portable computers, 98 memory sticks and 93 mobile devices went missing.
But just nine people lost their jobs as a result and only 55 of the incidents were reported to the Information Commissioner's Office.
Buckinghamshire County Council has come with the highest number of breaches with 72 cases.
In one incident 2,000 emails were revealed in a mailshot sent to the public. A person's cheque signature and bank details were also posted on the council's public planning site.
In another a disk containing information on vulnerable children was left in the PC hard drive when it was taken a way to be fixed. This was reported to the computer company and the information retrieved.
Peter Cartwright, BCC's Cabinet Member for Finance and Resources, said 68 cases were minor breaches and no data was lost. He said many other authorities wouldn't even have recorded them.
"Staff are aware of the need promptly to identify, record and mitigate breaches, and this is reflected in the number of breaches we have recorded.
"It is evidence of the transparency Buckinghamshire demonstrates in recording data breaches, and is one reason why the Information Commissioner's Office recognises us as an example of an authority which has worked with them to demonstrate good compliance and procedures."
Mr Cartwright added he shared Big Brother Watch's concern that many local authorities didn't report any breaches.
Some 263 councils reported no losses - including Oxford, South Oxfordshire, West Oxfordshire, Vale of White Horse and Wokingham while Aylesbury, Basingstoke and Deane, and West Berkshire had 4, 1 and 10 cases respectively.
38 councils including Bracknell, Reading, Oxfordshire County Council and Cherwell did not respond to the FOI.