Council loses data on 3,000 people

COUNCIL chiefs have today apologised to nearly 3,000 people in Suffolk following the theft of a laptop computer containing personal data.

Tom Potter

COUNCIL chiefs have today apologised to nearly 3,000 people in Suffolk following the theft of a laptop computer containing personal data.

Suffolk Coastal has suspended work with the contractor responsible for the potential loss of information, which was stored on a laptop stolen from the home of an employee last week.

The unencrypted data relates to licence applications submitted by pubs, taxi ranks, festivals and fete organisers and also includes details of those who had responded to consultations about licensed premises.


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Geraldine Pearce, from Chantry Road, Saxmundham, made an official representation in July 2005 concerning the extension of a premises licence at her local pub, The White Hart.

Her information was stored and retained on software which the council recently hired Chippenham-based contractor Lalpac Ltd to replace.

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Self-employed bookmaker, Mrs Pearce said: “I'm extremely annoyed. This should not have happened. The information is neither current nor pertinent.

“What can they be doing with this information? It makes me wonder how many other personal files are whizzing around the country for people to have a look at.”

According to the council information contained on the stolen laptop includes personal details such as names and addresses of licensing applicants but does not include any financial information.

Ray Herring, leader of Suffolk Coastal, said: “We have instructed the company to stop the work they were doing for us and we are investigating what further action we could take against them for this lapse of security.

“We had followed all the rules but we have to face the criticism caused by someone else's actions. I can only offer sincere apologies to those affected and reassure everyone that we will redouble our efforts to ensure that data in future is dealt with in as secure a fashion as possible.”

The council has registered the names and addresses of those affected with CIFAS, the fraud prevention service and the Information Commissioner has also been advised of the data loss.

A spokesman for Avon and Somerset Police confirmed that property including a laptop was stolen from a terraced house in Ashley Down, Bristol, but said that no arrests have been made.

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