THE personal data of some Colchester residents has been leaked in a “serious” data breach by a Colchester Council contractor.

The city’s authority said it is taking “swift and decisive” action in response to the unsafe storage of personal data by its financial services contractor, Capita.

The serious breach has prompted council officials to express their “extreme disappointment” with Capita.

Colchester Council is now working with the company to understand the full extent of the data spill and take all necessary steps to minimise the impact on residents.

Gazette: Data breach - Colchester Council contractor CapitaData breach - Colchester Council contractor Capita (Image: PA)

It is understood the data breach, which has affected several other local authorities around the country, relates to historic data.

The full extent of what was leaked is being investigated but it is said that the information has now been secured.

Colchester Council’s chief operating officer Richard Block said: “The council is extremely disappointed that such a serious and widespread data breach has occurred and is robustly addressing the matter with Capita.

“I want to reassure all residents that we are taking steps with Capita to fully understand how they have caused this data breach as well as any further action required.

Gazette: Serious breach - Colchester Town HallSerious breach - Colchester Town Hall (Image: Newsquest)

“We understand that this issue will cause concern among residents and apologise to those affected on behalf of Capita.

“Our top priority is to safeguard the privacy and security of our residents' personal information and we are taking swift and decisive action to investigate the situation and ensure Capita's processes are improved to avoid any future breaches.”

A council spokesman said its leaders remain committed to ensuring Capita works alongside them to fully understand the cause of the data breach.

Measures to prevent a similar incident from occurring in the future are also being explored.

A statement from the council said it has notified the Information Commissioner’s Office while it awaits further details from Capita.

The spokesman added: “[We] will continue to provide all necessary information as the investigation progresses.”