The Chester Evening Leader has been thanked by social services bosses after it uncovered a security blunder involving highly sensitive council documents.
The paper published an exclusive report by Chester chief reporter Mike Summers on how documents outlining personal details of some of the city’s most vulnerable people were found dumped on a country road. They included safety codes for entries to flats and details on the state of health of householders.
The paper splashed the story across the front page and co-operated with Cheshire County Council by handing back all the missing documents.
The council launched an immediate investigation into their disappearance and discovered they had been in the boot of a council employee’s car when it was stolen.
Assistant news editor Jonathan Barnett, who oversaw the Leader’s coverage of the story, said: “Luckily, on this occasion the documents did not fall into the wrong hands, but should such highly sensitive and potentially harmful information be left in a car?
“I understand the information is vital for care workers, but after this incident, security must be reviewed. It could have led to the mugging, assault or even murder of an elderly person, unable to defend themselves.”
Editor Richard Williams said: “This was a great local story of potentially very serious consequences. Our reporting team did the right thing in co-operating with the council, while still getting the story.”