FIFTEEN council-owned laptops were stolen while staff were working in the building, it has been revealed.

And somehow a security patrol the same evening failed to spot the break-in, a council meeting was told.

Council bosses have now sent more than 1,000 letters to people whose personal data could be on the computers, which were stolen from Jubilee House, Blackburn, on June 12.

The incident has also now been reported to the Information Commissioner.

The laptops included personal data of vulnerable adult social care-users, and may have also stored details of known paedophiles in the area, depending on how much information had been downloaded from the council’s central database.

Blackburn with Darwen adult social care chief David Foster told a council meeting: “This is a situation that gives us great cause for concern. We want to emphasise they were stolen from a locked building, not left carelessly around.

“They are password protected, so there’s a degree of security, but there will be personal information that will be on some of them.

“We took this very seriously and took steps to ensure the council’s database was secured. We have also looked at contacting those people who were affected.

“We have also set up a review into what went wrong. That investigation is ongoing.”

He faced criticism from Labour leader Kate Hollern, who said: “This is really alarming. There were staff in the building. How did the staff not notice? I presume the police are taking this very seriously.”

Lib Dem Coun Foster responded: “The part that was broken into was a completely empty part of the building. It was about 5.15pm but that part was empty. That’s why nobody noticed. The security people did not notice the break-in when they came to check the building at 6.30pm, which does give me cause for concern.”