The Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) has criticised banks for not disposing of documentation containing sensitive customer information.

The warning to clean up practices or face prosecution under the Data Protection Act was issued in response to findings of the BBC TV consumer programme, Watchdog, which found a number of banks had left unshredded documents containing customer information in refuse bags outside their branches.

Alliance & Leicester, Royal Bank of Scotland, HBOS, NatWest, Barclays, the Co-operative Bank, Nationwide building society, HFC Bank, Clydesdale Bank, Scarborough Building Society and United National Bank have all been issued with the warning.

But the lax data management practices were also said to have affected the Post Office and Immigration Advisory Service.