COUNCIL chiefs are carrying out a thorough investigation into claims the authority has 'breached' data protection by releasing the information of potential pupils at University Technical College (UTC) Warrington.

It is believed that the review into the matter concerns the council assisting a marketing agency by providing details of 'eligible' youngsters.

The authority started looking into the matter last Tuesday and it will determine whether a breach has taken place or not 'within the next week'.

It followed an enquiry by Cllr Colin Froggatt (LAB – Poulton South), former portfolio holder for children and young people's services, after four parents got in touch with him.

Cllr Froggatt has been assured he will receive a response by next week but admitted his concerns over the issue.

"It seems to be taking a long time in to see if they have broken the Data Protection Act," he said.

Council chief executive Steven Broomhead said he has not experienced any similar issues before but insists the matter will be 'dealt with properly'.

He added: "I am aware of the concerns and we are carrying out investigations – but it is too early to say if there has been a breach."

Education chiefs have said applications to study at the first UTC in the town are coming in fast following the official launch event.

Specialising in energy and engineering for 14 to 19-year-olds, UTC Warrington will open in September next year as part of the new Stadium Quarter development in the town centre.

Applications to be part of the intake must be made by February 29, with places for 2016 limited to 100 year 10 students and 120 places for year 12 students.

The Data Protection Act controls how personal information is used by organisations, businesses or the Government.

But 'data protection principles' say data must be used fairly, lawfully and in a way that is adequate, relevant and not excessive.