Who is the biggest loser?

November 04, 2010 4:12 PM

101104 Blackberry from flickr It’s been revealed that 154 laptop computers and 96 BlackBerrys have been lost or stolen from the Ministry of Justice since 2008.

A further 24 laptops and 52 mobile devices disappeared from the Home Office, the UK Border Agency and the Identity and Passport Office. The Metropolitan Police lost or had stolen 11 laptops, 12 BlackBerrys and five other mobiles.

This is worrying on two levels.  Not only is all this kit a significant cost for taxpayers, but some of these devices could contain confidential information like names and addresses, or even details of sensitive police investigations.

The information came to light thanks to Freedom of Information requests by a computer security firm, F-secure UK.  The Ministry of Justice and Police are not alone, and not by a long shot the ‘biggest losers’.  Laptops and even desktop PCs have been going missing from all levels of government for years.  A recent survey found 11 other Government departments reported the loss of 518 laptops, 131 BlackBerrys or iPhones, 104 mobile devices and 932 electronic storage devices worth an estimated £781,453 in the last two years. The biggest losers are taxpayers.

Despite increased security we still hear stories of things going missing and it seems lessons are not being learnt.  The Home Office said no members of staff were disciplined for the losses, while the Ministry of Justice and the Met could not confirm whether any disciplinary action was taken. The Ministry of Justice at least did say all its laptops were encrypted and password protected to prevent unauthorised access to data.

Do civil servants really need this vast range of expensive equipment in the first place? But when it has been bought on the taxpayers’ tab, Government departments, local councils and all organisations need to do more to protect those assets and the data that’s on them.  It’s unfair for taxpayers to keep forking out for new equipment because of careless attitudes towards looking after it.  Quite often it’s more than our money that’s at stake, which makes it even worse that it looks like no one has been held responsible in some cases.

101104 Blackberry from flickr It’s been revealed that 154 laptop computers and 96 BlackBerrys have been lost or stolen from the Ministry of Justice since 2008.

A further 24 laptops and 52 mobile devices disappeared from the Home Office, the UK Border Agency and the Identity and Passport Office. The Metropolitan Police lost or had stolen 11 laptops, 12 BlackBerrys and five other mobiles.

This is worrying on two levels.  Not only is all this kit a significant cost for taxpayers, but some of these devices could contain confidential information like names and addresses, or even details of sensitive police investigations.

The information came to light thanks to Freedom of Information requests by a computer security firm, F-secure UK.  The Ministry of Justice and Police are not alone, and not by a long shot the ‘biggest losers’.  Laptops and even desktop PCs have been going missing from all levels of government for years.  A recent survey found 11 other Government departments reported the loss of 518 laptops, 131 BlackBerrys or iPhones, 104 mobile devices and 932 electronic storage devices worth an estimated £781,453 in the last two years. The biggest losers are taxpayers.

Despite increased security we still hear stories of things going missing and it seems lessons are not being learnt.  The Home Office said no members of staff were disciplined for the losses, while the Ministry of Justice and the Met could not confirm whether any disciplinary action was taken. The Ministry of Justice at least did say all its laptops were encrypted and password protected to prevent unauthorised access to data.

Do civil servants really need this vast range of expensive equipment in the first place? But when it has been bought on the taxpayers’ tab, Government departments, local councils and all organisations need to do more to protect those assets and the data that’s on them.  It’s unfair for taxpayers to keep forking out for new equipment because of careless attitudes towards looking after it.  Quite often it’s more than our money that’s at stake, which makes it even worse that it looks like no one has been held responsible in some cases.

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