1,000 extra names on stolen St Albans council laptops
AN ADDITIONAL one thousand St Albans district residents have been affected by the theft of a top secret district council laptop. At a St Albans cabinet meeting on Tuesday, the council s chief executive Daniel Goodwin admitted that the details of an extra
AN ADDITIONAL one thousand St Albans district residents have been affected by the theft of a top secret district council laptop.
At a St Albans cabinet meeting on Tuesday, the council's chief executive Daniel Goodwin admitted that the details of an extra thousand St Albans district residents - those ex-postal voters who had signed up for an election in either 2007 or 2008 - were stored on the laptop stolen from the district council offices last month.
It was one of four laptops which disappeared from the council offices in October and November but the first three to disappear were unused.
The fourth carried details of names, addresses, signatures and the date of birth of what was originally believed to have been nearly 14,500 residents who opted for postal voting but is now 15,500.
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Mr Goodwin, who delivered the results of an internal investigation at cabinet, said that the two extra files containing the additional 1,000 names were discovered during the council's investigation into the laptop theft and that they were "supposed" to have been deleted.
He added: "It is very irritating that we didn't get that covered from the offset and I extend my apologies to those residents who we have failed to warn until now. Letters will be sent to all affected residents this week."
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Council leader Cllr Robert Donald said he was dismayed by the "sad" situation they were in: "At the moment, it does not look as if there will be wide repercussions from the laptop theft. There are concerns, but at least we know that action has been taken."
At last week's special cabinet meeting at which Mr Goodwin was grilled for two hours about the missing laptops, he said that the police Serious Organised Crime Agency (SOCA) would be setting up alerts with the banks to provide some protection for residents. But SOCA told the council last Wednesday that they would no longer be able to provide the service which would have been free of charge.
As a result the council had to turn to CIFAS - the Credit Industry Fraud Avoidance System - to set up alerts which happened last Friday.
But it has cost the council nearly �44,000 to protect residents - an option which had previously been rejected as too expensive - and the additional one thousand will now have to be added.
Labour group leader, Cllr Roma Mills, said the whole affair had taken too long - she was particularly concerned that it was a month after the first three laptops went missing that the loss of the fourth with the sensitive information came to light - and accused the ruling Lib-Dem group of bolting the door after the horse had bolted.
And Conservative group leader, Cllr Julian Daly, said while he welcomed the decision to sign up with CIFAS, it had taken too long to put in place.