By Rebecca Curley, Local Democracy Reporter, 16 October
A council has been forced to apologise after an administration mix up with a website address directed parents of children with special needs to a porn site.
People looking for information on SEND (Special Educational Needs and Disabilities) services in Surrey found themselves looking at explicit pornographic photos instead.
Surrey County Council has now apologised to anyone it says may have been offended or shocked by the “inappropriate content” and says it has taken steps to make sure it does not happen again.
The council says it was alerted to the mix up on October 7 as the link is still featured on school complaints policies, and even on a council-hosted website for teenagers looking for careers advice.
SCC stopped using the old domain name surreysendlo two years ago and said it did send out the new link www.surreylocaloffer.org.uk for everyone to put in place.
Website domains are held for a number of years once a change has occurred before they are then released and can be repurchased.
SCC’s website procedures are for a domain name to be held for two years before it is released.
Now the old domain hosts a porn site with graphic content on the homepage and this week the link was still featured on school complaints policies.
A Surrey County Council spokesman said: “The website link for the SEND local offer was changed in 2017 to www.surreylocaloffer.org.uk – this change was communicated to all schools at that time and a forwarding link was put in place for anyone who accessed the old domain.
“In accordance with our website procedures, previously used domains are held for two years and then released. However the old domain was still linked in several old documents on our website and in some of our communications.
“When we were alerted on October 7 that the old domain now hosts inappropriate content, we worked to make sure that there are no references to the link on our own website and communications.
“We have also been communicating with schools and partners to ensure they remove the old domain and that they are using the correct link on their websites.
“We are very sorry for any offence this may have caused and have apologised directly to the small number of people who inadvertently accessed this link and who may have been shocked by its content.
“We have implemented several extra measures to our website procedures to prevent a similar situation occurring in the future, including removing a forwarding link halfway through the retention period to reveal any broken links before releasing a domain.”