A report shows that 4,800 devices belonging to UK Government staff went missing
Sarah Olney, a Liberal Democrat business spokesperson has revealed the staggering number of devices belonging to UK Government staff that have gone ‘missing’, since 2017. She is now calling for an official inquiry into how this could be possible.
Ms Olney requested the figures from each individual UK Government department, and when she complied her report, it showed an incredible 4,871 laptops, mobile phones, and other devices, had simply ‘disappeared’ over the last five years.
“It’s deeply worrying that so many government laptops and memory sticks have been lost or stolen in recent years. These devices could contain sensitive information about UK citizens, or related to national security – information that could worryingly fall into the wrong hands”, she said.
“Ministers should launch an official inquiry into why this keeps happening, and what risks this poses to us all. The Government has a responsibility to keep our data and country safe. It feels like they are failing at both”, added Ms Olney.
More worryingly, it was revealed that the Ministry of Defence had the highest number of missing devices. A total of 1,483 various electronic devices had either been ‘lost’, or ‘stolen’ over the last five years.
Also startling was the fact that 553 pieces of equipment went missing from the Cabinet Office, and this department includes the Prime Minister’s Office. These electronic devices also apparently included external hard drives, and USB sticks. From this total, there were 181 laptops, and 372 mobile phones.
Michael Ellis, a minister from the Cabinet Office, said all devices were encrypted, and then tried to justify the figures, putting them “into context”, by pointing out that 9,248 people worked in the department.
Leo Docherty, a Defence minister assured that, “all departmental IT is fully security encrypted. The departmental security unit records and investigates each reported loss from the department. If appropriate, the police are invited to undertake further inquiries”.
Figures from the other departments included the Ministry of Justice, which reported 1,166 missing, or stolen pieces. of equipment. The Department of Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, reported 453, and the Department of Digital, Culture, Media, and Sport reported 322 had disappeared.
No figures were provided to Ms Olney by the Department for Education. Instead, they commented, this could only be “obtained at disproportionate cost”.
Meanwhile, preferring to provide percentages as opposed to figures, the majority of devices go missing as the result of home or office thefts, or while travelling, claimed a spokesperson for the Department for Work and Pensions, as reported by standard.co.uk.