Children's documents found in street

A POLICE investigation was under way last night after confidential papers containing details of crimes and behaviour problems of children in Norfolk were found scattered on a pavement.

A POLICE investigation was under way last night after confidential papers containing details of crimes and behaviour problems of children in Norfolk were found scattered on a pavement.

The sensitive documents gave ages, addresses and telephone numbers of named individuals and the offences they had committed - including rape and assault.

They were found strewn over a wide area near the Newberry Clinic children's centre, in Lowestoft Road, Gorleston, near Yarmouth.

Local MP Tony Wright called for a thorough inquiry into the discovery and said he would be contacting Norfolk chief constable Ian McPherson today.

The papers, which appeared to be mostly police files relating to children, were found yesterday morning - some by Eastern Daily Press reporter Stephen Pullinger while he was out jogging.

He said some of the documents he picked up were on headed Norfolk Constabulary paper while one was a print-out of an email from a police constable.

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Among documents that did not seem to relate to police was an unopened letter to a doctor, he said.

Insp Danny Kett confirmed they had quickly managed to recover about 20 documents after Mr Pullinger had alerted them. Another member of the public had handed some in and a team of officers was carrying out a sweep of the area to find others that might have been blown around.

Officers at first thought that someone may have broken into Gorleston police station on Saturday night and taken papers from confidential waste bins awaiting collection by contractors.

But Chief Supt Charlie Hall later said they had ruled out the possibility of a burglary at the station and did not believe the station was the source of the documents.

He said: “We will be carrying out a full inquiry, working with the clinic, to see how these documents came to be on the street. We treat the security of information like this very seriously.”

Chief Supt Hall appealed to anyone who may have picked up documents to contact the police and urged them not to touch them as they might yield forensic evidence.

Adrian Pennington, chief executive of the James Paget University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, which owns the Newberry Clinic, said that at this early stage of the police inquiry it had not been established that the documents were linked to the centre.

He said the trust's security team had met police on site within half an hour of the papers being discovered and found no sign of any break-in or damage to the centre's letterbox.

However, pending confirmation from the police, he felt the most likely explanation was that post that had arrived at the centre over the weekend had somehow been extracted from the letterbox.

There had been no discovery of ripped waste bags around the site to suggest papers had been inappropriately disposed of at the centre, and waste bags that were there had been examined and found to contain no sensitive material.

Mr Pennington said: “If it turns out post has been taken we will be taking advice from the police on how we might improve the security of the letterbox.”

Mr Pullinger said: “I was shocked when I saw what was in some of these documents. The nearby police station was closed but cars were outside so I rang the bell.

“When I got no reply I quickly ran home and came back with the car. By that time some of the documents had disappeared but I immediately rang the police on my mobile to tell them someone ought to come and get them.”

Yarmouth MP Tony Wright said he was hugely concerned confidential papers should be found scattered on the street.

He said: “There needs to be a thorough investigation to find out exactly what has happened and I will be making contact with the Chief Constable tomorrow.”