Public Services > Central Government

Government departments release data on missing IT equipment

Charlotte Jee Published 07 January 2013

Ministry of Defence lost 1,058 items of equipment in 2011-12

 

Government departments saw 2,070 pieces of IT equipment lost or stolen in 2011-12, according to written answers in the House of Commons.

With the exception of the Department for Education and the Cabinet Office, all central departments have now written formal responses to requests regarding how many pieces of IT equipment were lost or stolen during 2010-11 and 2011-12.

408 of the missing items for 2011-12 were computers and 499 were mobiles, of which 422 were BlackBerrys. 1,163 were categorised as 'other'.

The requests were lodged by Gareth Thomas MP, Labour's shadow minister for the Cabinet Office.

Over half of the missing pieces of IT equipment across government were accounted for by the Ministry of Defence (MoD), which lost 1,058 items in total, including 206 computers, 24 mobiles and 34 BlackBerrys. Unlike some other departments, these figures are raw data and do not include any recovered property.

794 pieces of equipment were categorised as 'other'. This category refers to IT items such as CDs, DVDs, and removable memory such as USB sticks.

Explaining why the figures for the department were so high, an MoD spokesperson said, "The MOD employs more than 250,000 individuals operating all round the world, with frequent movement of forces and equipment between locations in support of operations."

The spokesperson added, "The MoD takes the loss or theft of equipment very seriously and works hard to detect and deter theft. There are robust processes in place to raise awareness of the need for vigilance in all aspects of security and we actively encourage individuals to report loss or theft. This work has resulted in a rise in the number of reports over the last year.

"Where theft does occur and a suspect is identified, prosecution or internal disciplinary action will follow as appropriate."

After the MoD, the departments that lost the most equipment include the Ministry of Justice (268) and the Department for Communities and Local Government (151).

However, the Department for Culture, Media and Sport and HM Treasury reported just 10 losses apiece for 2011-12.

In comparison, the Department for Transport and the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills lost 102 pieces of IT equipment each, while the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) reported 97 items missing. The Department of Health mislaid 63 items, while the Home Office lost 49.

A direct comparison is not possible for the DWP and the Home Office, as they reported data covering each calendar year rather than the financial year. DWP reported 97 losses in 2011 and 48 for 2012. The Home Office mislaid 53 items in 2011; however four of these were recovered. They did not provide data for 2012.

The Northern Ireland Office reported no equipment losses at all for the period. The Wales Office said that there had been one such loss, and the Scotland Office reported four losses.

Shadow Cabinet Office Minister Gareth Thomas MP said, "It's incredible that so many computers, blackberries and other pieces of IT equipment have been lost.

"With hundreds of pieces of IT equipment being lost across Whitehall, and over a thousand pieces missing at the MOD alone, Ministers should be doing all they can to make sure vital equipment and data are kept secure."

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