Newcastle apologises for email blunder

City council acknowledges that message contained spreadsheet with personal information on families with adopted children

Newcastle City Council has apologised to local adoptive families after mistakenly attaching a spreadsheet with their personal details to an email it sent to 77 people.

eMail iconIt has issued a statement confirming the data breach, which took place on 15 June, in which a member of the council's adoption team accidentally attached an internal spreadsheet to emails inviting adoptive parents to the annual adoption summer party.

It included personal information on 2,743 people, comprising current and former adoptees, parents and social workers who had been involved with these families. The information included names, addresses and the birthdates of the adopted children. 

“The council apologises for any worry and concern this incident may have caused,” it said. “We encourage anyone who thinks they may have been affected to get in contact via the dedicated helpline.”

It added that it has carried out an investigation and taken steps to contain the breach, minimise the potential distress to people affected, and ensure it cannot happen again.

These include asking the 77 recipients to delete the information, commencing a review of data protection across the council and running refresher courses for all staff with access to personal information.

Trying time

Newcastle’s director of people, Ewen Weir, said: “I am truly sorry for the distress caused to all those affected. We will work closely with the affected families and individuals to support them at this trying time.

“The council takes data protection and confidentiality very seriously and has acted swiftly to understand what happened and who has been affected. This breach appears to have been caused by human error and a failure to follow established procedures.

“We are conducting a thorough review of our processes to identify what changes we can make to ensure that this never happens again."

Image by AJC1, CC BY 2.0 through flickr