My Girlfriend changed jobs recently, and as such had to provide the local council with a copy of her employment contract to support claims for low-income support benefits.

Now, it seems they have lost it.

This is a document provided in confidence to an official department, which contains details including home address, workplace/working hours, full name, DoB, etcetera.

I'm fairly sure that this is the sort of information which could be used to steal her identity.

Another concern is that someone could essentially track her movements, plan to break into the house, anything. She has had problems with stalkers in the past.

Would this constitute a break of the data protection act? (We are UK-based)

  • 3
    Why the scare quotes in the title? I have absolutely no doubt that a U.K. Council is capable of, and indeed, likely to, inadvertently misplace paperwork due to negligence as opposed to malice. It is pretty much their specialty.
    – ohwilleke
    Commented May 8, 2018 at 23:39

2 Answers 2


On the face of it, yes, it may well be in breach of principle 7 if there is an underlying systematic failure.

  1. Appropriate technical and organisational measures shall be taken against unauthorised or unlawful processing of personal data and against accidental loss or destruction of, or damage to, personal data.1

Only if the data actually goes to a third party. Losing your data is not a breach; having it in the hands of someone else may be.

  • 1
    The moment the council does not know where the document is, it cannot ensure that it is not shown to someone who should not have access to it (note that this includes council employees who are not involved in managing the claims). So it is no following the data protection laws, even if there is no evidence of a data breach (note that the OP does not use the "data breach" term).
    – SJuan76
    Commented May 9, 2018 at 19:44

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .