Govt loses ‘one laptop a week’

The government loses an average of one laptop a week, it has been revealed.

The figure is being released one year after HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) admitting losing two discs with 25 million child benefit claimant’s personal details on them.

The figures come from a sustained campaign by Conservative MP Grant Shapps.

The shadow housing minister wrote to ministers in each government department asking what they had lost.

The Home Office and the Ministry of Defence (MoD) failed to respond, but the figures which came back show 53 laptops disappeared in a year, along with 35 Blackberries, 30 mobile phone and four USB memory sticks.

One eyebrow-raising aspect of the discovery shows that Portcullis House, where many MPs have their offices and which hosts several select committees, lost ten chairs. Portcullis House is one of the most heavily guarded buildings in Britain, with revolving doors operated by a variety of security personnel at all times.

The Department of Health was the worst culprit, losing 14 computers.

It was closely followed by the Department for Children, Schools and Families which lost 13.

The Department for International Development lost nine, the Department for Transport lost five and the Department of Justice four.

“We need an urgent review of the government’s data policies, especially with large projects in the pipeline,” Mr Shapps said.

“It shows ministers are not capable of handling this sort of thing.”