A FORMER social worker who committed a "serious breach of trust" has been given a suspended jail sentence.

Donna Davies, a former Wiltshire Council employee, was sentenced on Friday, April 30 at Salisbury Crown Court after admitting a number of offences relating to the Computer Misuse Act where she accessed sensitive data that she had no legitimate reason to view.

Sentencing her to ten months in prison, which was suspended for two years, and 150 hours of unpaid work, Judge Adam Feest QC, said: “There is no room in the social work field for those who cannot be trusted.”

As a social worker, Davies, of Melksham, had a duty of care to vulnerable children, and a responsibility to act within the law in relation to the sensitive data to which she had access to.

After concerns were raised by Wiltshire Council, Wiltshire Police began an investigation, and have liaised with Wiltshire Council and Social Work England throughout the case.

Following the conclusion of the criminal investigation, a formal disciplinary investigation took place, and Davies has been dismissed from her position as a social worker.

Police in partnership with Wiltshire Council were able to show that the 43-year-old had accessed information in relation to children to which she had no authorised reason to do so.

Police say that "her motives for this remain unclear, and she has not given any explanation for her actions".

Detective Inspector Gemma Vinton, of Wiltshire Police’s Digital Investigations and Intelligence Unit, who oversaw the investigation, said: “The office of social worker is one on which vulnerable people and children in society should be able to depend.

"On this occasion, Donna Davies has committed a serious breach of trust, and let down the public and other hard working members of her profession by accessing information that she had no authority nor legitimate reason to access.

“It is crucial that the public can have confidence in the actions of public officials, and trust those with access to their sensitive data to treat it in an appropriate manner.”

Lucy Townsend, Wiltshire Council Corporate Director for People, added: “We have all been extremely let down by Ms Davies and she has been rightly punished for this.

"Being a social worker is a hugely trusted and vital role; and misusing resources and abusing that position is a complete dereliction of duty. We apologise to anyone affected by her actions.

“Criminals will always try and subvert security processes.

"Following this incident we immediately reviewed the security systems in place to ensure they remained sufficiently robust to protect against a similar incident occurring in the future.

"Ms Davies was immediately suspended pending the criminal investigation and has been dismissed by the council.

“We would like to reassure people that this is an isolated incident and our aim continues to be to provide the highest quality of support to those who need our social care services, we have a hugely trustworthy and talented team in place to do this.”