Government lost 2,000 items of IT equipment in 2011-2012

By Danny Palmer
08 Jan 2013 View Comments
ministry-of-defence

Over 2,000 pieces of IT equipment went missing from government departments in between 2011 and 2012, according to data released by the House of Commons.

The information came to light after Gareth Thomas, Labour MP for Harrow West and shadow Cabinet Office Minister, made written requests for figures showing how many computers, mobile phones, BlackBerrys and other IT equipment were lost or stolen throughout Whitehall.

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All departments but two, The Cabinet Office and the Department for Education, responded to the request, according to Hansard.

In total, 2,070 items of IT equipment were lost or stolen from government departments, including 408 computers, 499 mobile phones and 422 BlackBerrys. Some 1,163 items classed as ‘other' including USB sticks, CDs and DVDs also went missing during 2011-2012.

In the same period, the Ministry of Defence (MoD) saw 1,058 IT items go missing, accounting for over half of lost or stolen equipment across government. Items that went AWOL from the MoD included 206 computers, 24 mobile phones, 34 BlackBerrys and 794 'other' IT bits and pieces.

Mark Francois MP, Minister for Defence Personnel, Welfare and Veterans, said the department takes the loss of ICT equipment "very seriously".

"The Ministry of Defence takes any theft of, loss of, attacks on, or misuse of, its information, networks and associated media storage devices very seriously and has robust procedures in place to mitigate against and investigate such occurrences," he wrote in response to Thomas.

"Furthermore, new processes, instructions and technological aids are continually being implemented to mitigate human errors and raise the awareness of every individual in the department," Francois added.

The government is pushing through changes to ICT across all departments, with increasing use of online and cloud services. However, the figures for lost mobile phones and BlackBerrys suggest that large government departments might be some way off being able to embrace BYOD, especially when the potentially sensitive nature of information that could be left on devices is considered.

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