Confidential council files, some containing sensitive personal data, have been found dumped in a bin in Telford.
Telford & Wrekin Council said an immediate investigation was launched after the documents – 58 in total – were found by a member of the public. Officers were today contacting all the people whose data was included to apologise.
A spokesman said they believed the papers were put in the bin on the Wrekin Retail Park in Wellington by a former member of staff.
The documents – handed to the Shropshire Star – include job applications and staff sickness forms and include details such as addresses, qualifications, previous employment and references of people who applied for a cleaning supervisor job at Muxton and Phoenix schools in Telford.
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There are also nine return to work forms detailing the reasons for individual staff absences between March and May this year – even revealing one member of staff was suffering from stress and depression.
A copy of the council's Corporate Information Security Policy was also thrown away with the papers.
It states: "Documents and records must be stored under secure conditions up until the point that they are either destroyed or passed to a third party to carry out physical destruction.
"This means that they must not be left unattended in skips, bins, reception areas or corridors for any period of time whatsoever."
Council paying-in books were also thrown in the bin along with names of every pupil at Moorfield Primary School in Newport who has a school meal.
The haul was found by shoppers Nick Stokes and his partner Melanie McCarthy, of Doseley. Miss McCarthy, a mother-of-one, said details relating to children should not have been disposed of in a public bin.
Nigel Newman, for the council, said: "The council takes this issue extremely seriously and immediately after the Shropshire Star told us about this our investigations began.
"Having reviewed these our initial findings are that the information came from a member of staff who left the council very recently."
He said the vast majority of the information did not include personal data.