Government loses 122 computers

The losses so far this year shouldn't matter as long as users have followed their own security procedures, according to one industry source

The UK government has suffered at least 122 computer thefts this year.

The Home Office was hit hardest of all government departments, with 95 computer thefts since January 2005.

Home Secretary Charles Clark added in a written response to Liberal Democrat Paul Burstow MP that 140 computers were stolen in 2004.

According to government information service Hansard, Burstow also asked parliamentary under-secretary for the Department of Transport Karen Buck and others the same question.

Buck replied that four computers had been stolen this year by "persons outside the department and its agencies".

Bill Rammell, minister of state for the Department for Education and Skills, admitted his department lost 14 computers to thieves last year but failed to provide details of this year's losses.

Thieves have stolen 23 computers from the Ministry of Defence this year, Don Touhig, parliamentary under-secretary for the Ministry of Defence, wrote to Burstow.

In her answer, Jane Kennedy, a minister for the Department of Health, said her organisation did not differentiate between 44 losses and thefts last year but the cost of "incidents" totalled £39,877.

Peter Jaco, cheif executive of encryption firm BeCrypt, commented: "We do not believe the government is any different than any large corporation in the number of devices that are lost as a percentage of the installed base.

"The government also has policies to protect data assets with encryption products that have been approved by GCHQ. If government departments that have lost these laptops followed policies all data on the machine would be protected as it would be encrypted to meet security standards."