THE personal details, health records and criminal histories of hundreds of vulnerable people have been left in a filing cabinet which was sold for £10.

The folder, containing the names, addresses and personal details of what appear to be former Bolton at Home customers were left in the filing cabinet, which was bought by 22-year-old Cain Mather.

Mr Mather recently purchased the cabinet for £10 from the Bolton Community Transport and Furniture Services — a charity selling new and old furniture — as a gift for his mother.

But when Mr Mather — a gym instructor who lives in Bury Road — got the cabinet home, he found three folders full of documents relating to former users of Bolton at Home’s Careline service.

Police have now been called in to look at the incident by Bolton at Home.

Mr Mather said: “When I started looking through the files, I couldn’t believe it, it was full of people’s personal details.

“I think it is absolutely ridiculous that this could happen — if this included a member of my family then I would not be happy at all.”

He added: “There are names, addresses and phone numbers and then health and medical records.

“I read one file which said someone was a schizophrenic — I really don’t think people would want that information being released.”

The Bolton News has seen a number of the files and can confirm that a wide range of personal details are enclosed.

One customer’s information categorises them as a ‘recovering alcoholic’ while another cites a customer’s criminal conviction — including a newspaper clipping with details of his arrest.

There are also notes about family relationships and when customers’ loved ones have died.

Bolton at Home’s Careline service is aimed at allowing residents to live independently in their own homes, whether they are owner occupiers or tenants.

The service gives residents access to a community alarm every hour of the day throughout the year, meaning elderly or vulnerable residents can make contact with staff members.

A spokesman for Bolton at Home said the social housing group is aware of the incident and is looking into it.

He said: "We’ve made strenuous efforts to recover the documents in question from Mr Mather, however he has chosen not to engage with us.

"It’s very disappointing that he’s failed to keep appointments and not allowed us to retrieve this information as quickly as possible.

"We’re taking the matter very seriously and have involved the police.”

Mr Mather said he contacted Bolton at Home earlier this week but said the organisation has yet to collect the files.

He added: “I just think it is a very careless and stupid thing to do and I am really hoping that they will learn from the mistake and make sure it doesn’t happen again.”