Birmingham Children’s Trust criticized for disclosing personal details of child to neighboring family

An organization responsible for looking after disadvantaged and vulnerable young people in Birmingham has leaked a child’s personal details to a neighboring family. Birmingham Children’s Trust Community Interest Company (BCTCIC) has been ‘reprimanded’ by the Information Commissioner’s Office after sharing identifying information, including details of a criminal charge against a child, with a neighboring family.

The breach occurred on 10 November 2022 when the Child Protection and Trust Review department inadvertently copied an information statement from an earlier ‘strategy meeting’ between BCTCIC and West Midlands Police which contained a summary of concerns raised by the family neighbor, regarding a child.

But the statement contained personal details of that child, including criminal charges, and was accidentally copied into a danger and harm section of a Child Protection Plan for a neighboring child. The plan was approved for disclosure without anyone realizing it included the sensitive information.

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The mother of the neighboring family expressed concern about her child’s interaction with the other child. And the Trust had worked with both families.

A social worker was said to have immediately contacted the recipients of the Child Protection Plan containing the sensitive details on the same day and retrieved it. The family whose details of the child were released were told what had happened by post. The plan was then updated. Recipients of the report were told that the information they saw was confidential, not to share it, and that there would be “criminal implications” if they did.

The trust, formally Birmingham Children’s Services, which is owned by Birmingham City Council but operated independently, also looked into other cases and found no other data breaches by the person concerned. The organization’s document template has been updated with an optional confidential section to prevent a similar violation from happening again.

The breach was also not found to have caused any real harm or prejudiced the criminal investigation, according to West Midlands Police. But the ICO said it put the child whose data was disclosed at risk of vigilantism, could have caused psychological harm, damaged their mental health and relationships and caused a loss of trust.