Fears have been raised about the safety of personal information after Hillingdon's Social Services department was found to have left confidential reports simply lying around.
The Gazette has obtained photographs of the Social Service office, in the Civic Centre, High Street, Uxbridge, where criminal records, details of investigations and copies of personal emails and letters are left on desks out of office hours.
After we presented this evidence to Hillingdon Council the authority has this week pledged to tighten up security and also launched a full investigation to determine how the security breach occured.
A psychiatric report, containing results of a series of interviews with a family in the borough is among the most alarming of the documents which are easily viewable through a window.
The information and pictures came to light from a reader, who has asked not to be named, who was alerted to the situation while walking to deliver a letter to the council.
He said: "I was walking past the back of the council at about 9pm on Tuesday when I saw all the lights on in one of the offices. I originally went to have a look because I was angry at the waste of electricity.
"As soon as I looked through the glass I noticed all this paperwork right in front of me which I realised was details of families and children.
"I knew then it was the Social Services office and was disgusted that all this personal information was just lying out for anyone to see.
"I came back the next night with my camera and it was the same again. The files were different, but still they could have been confidential.
"These are clearly vulnerable people in these reports and yet there is enough information on display for someone to turn up at a house pretending to be a social worker and get access to a child.
"As a father myself I would be horrified if I found out my family's personal details were being treated in such a cavalier way.
"There should be a resignation at the highest level in the Social Service Department for such a serious breach. None of this 'apology' and 'we've put in new measures'. There has to be accountability in the council."
Fran Beasley, deputy chief executive, said: "Although it is disappointing that the person concerned did not report this matter directly to us, I want to reassure residents that we take security of council buildings and personal data extremely seriously.
"I have already begun a full investigation into the specific matters in this case and we are reviewing the council's security measures. In addition, we have reminded staff about our data protection policies to ensure this does not happen again."