VULNERABLE children could be at risk after the laptop of an adoption worker was stolen over a month ago with “several years worth” of sensitive information on it.
The computer was stolen on August 11 from the house of an independent external consultant who is paid by Edinburgh City Council to go to foster meetings and take notes.
It is understood the saved data may contain the behavioural and medical records of kids along with parent reviews that discuss how foster children are settling in with their new families.
The information might also identify children who were removed from their parents by social services.
The council also admitted that the data stored on the laptop was not encrypted which means anyone can look at it.
A joint investigation between Edinburgh council and Lothian and Borders Police is now underway to recover the technology.
Officials believe the laptop was stolen at random but because there is sensitive information stored on officials said they “won’t take any chances” as they look to recover it.
But foster parents have spoke of their concerns about the theft.
One anonymous fosterer said: “The council got in touch and said the minutes of dozens of meetings were contained on a laptop which got stolen and there may have been a data protection leak.
“From what we understood there could have been several years worth. We got the impression they were supposed to be very hot on confidentiality.
“You can’t discuss certain things with your neighbours so it’s somewhat ironic that this has happened on their end.”
Lothian Tory MSP Gavin Brown said the missing laptop shows that the council need to improve their security measures.
He said: “This should serve as a wake up call to the council about security. While there is always a danger of laptops being stole, what the council can control is the level of security within the laptop.”
A spokeswoman for Lothian and Borders Police said: “We are following a positive line of inquiry following a house-breaking and an address in the south-east of Edinburgh.”
Edinburgh council said they have now got in touch with their external advisors to stress the importance of keeping sources of information protected.
A spokeswoman said: “The police advice is that it is unlikely the information was targeted and that the laptop was probably wiped for re-sale.
“However we won’t take any chances even when there is a low risk of individuals being identified.
“We have contacted the majority of those involved and have apologised.
“We’re working with our external advisors to stress the importance of information security.”
In July this year Edinburgh council admitted that around 45 files related to pupil truancy at Broughton High School, Granton Primary and Forthview Primary was stolen from the home of a teacher.
Earlier this month the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) fined the Scottish Borders Council £250,000 after documents containing details about its staff were dumped in a supermarket bin.
More than 600 files, containing bank account, staff salary information and employee pensions had been handed over to a third-party company who had agreed to digitise the records.
They were recovered from recycling bins after a member of the public tipped off the police about their presence.
A further 172 files were deposited at a different site, but are understood to have been destroyed during the recycling process.