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Wednesday, 26 November 2014

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Cumbria council apologises after child welfare case blunder

A council has apologised after a couple were mistakenly sent disturbing confidential details about a child welfare case.

Cumbria County Council says it has taken action following the blunder in which the man and his partner, from Carlisle, received private minutes from a Children’s Services meeting about a child who was nothing to do with them.

The document, which has been seen by the News & Star, contains highly sensitive and explicit information about a young boy.

It comes less than a week after the director of the council’s troubled Children’s Services department revealed she was stepping down.

The couple, who cannot be identified, said they were “disgusted” when they read the harrowing report.

The man explained how he and his partner were involved with Children’s Services and the first page of the letter referred to their case.

But the second page went on to reveal personal and disturbing information about another child, including his name and the history of his case.

The man said: “This is a diabolical mistake – what if this information had been sent to a paedophile?

“If this can happen, how do I know details about my son won’t easily end up in the wrong hands?

“We were disgusted when we started reading it and my partner was physically sick – we let these people come into our home to help us with our family and then this happens.

“It doesn’t give you much faith in Children’s Services.”

The blunder is believed to be due to the similarity between the name of the man’s partner and the mother of the child referred to in the documents.

The man and his partner have since been sent a letter of apology by Children’s Services.

But he added: “I think the apology is a joke and I’m now worried that any paperwork to do with my son could be in the wrong hands.”

A Cumbria County Council spokesman said: “We take the confidentiality of the children, young people and families we work with extremely seriously.

“We are very sorry for any distress this error may have caused and are taking appropriate action to deal with it.”

Former Children’s Services boss Julia Morrison, who presided over a period when child protection services in the county were repeatedly criticised by Ofsted inspectors for failing to adequately protect the most vulnerable youngsters, announced last Thursday she was leaving the role due to health reasons.

And days earlier it emerged that a boss who was suspended after her department in the West Midlands was rated ‘inadequate’ had been given a job in Cumbria working with vulnerable children.

Meanwhile, the News & Star reported in September 2012 how a mother was sent confidential documents by Children’s Services about someone else’s child.

And just months earlier we also revealed how private details about another child welfare case were sent to the wrong person.

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