Expert On News: Police Device Losses Surge By 150% Over Last 3 Years

Police forces across Britain have seen thefts of critical devices like mobiles, tablets, laptops and radios surge since 2016, according to research from Parliament Street Think Tank. The data collected via the Freedom of Information Act provided insight into the frequent loss of devices from reported by police staff and serving officers over the last three most recent financial years.

In total, 2,600 mobile phones, laptops, police radios and other devices were reported lost or stolen by police officers and staff over the three year period. The most recent financial year (FY 18-19) saw a total of 1,360 gadget losses, an average of 4 devices every day.

Overall, the force with the highest number of reported lost devices was West Midlands Police with a total 1,012 over the last three years. A massive 494 radios contributed to this figure in FY18-19 alone.

In total over the three-year period, West Midlands Police lost 16 laptops, 112 mobile phones and an astonishing 884 police radios. In its FOI response, West Midlands Police asked for it to be made clear that the device losses list include items that were reported as “lost, lost at audit, reported lost and stolen.”

Staffordshire Police were second highest in loss with 277 devices reported missing over the three-year period.  Greater Manchester Police reported the third highest figures with a loss of 225 gadgets since 2016, including 200 mobile devices and eight encrypted USB pens.

Lancashire constabulary reported 5 laptops, 27 radios and 159 mobile phones, a total of 191 disappearances since 2016.

The forces which saw the biggest increase in lost or stolen equipment between 2016 and 2019 were Durham with a 200 per cent increase, Norfolk and Suffolk Constabulary with over 1,500 per cent and Gwent Police with a huge 2,500 per cent jump.

Forces with the lowest numbers were Devon and Cornwall Police, with a report of only 2 missing gadgets over a three-year period as well as Dorset Police with just 15.

Experts Comments

December 20, 2019
Andy Harcup
VP EMEA
Absolute Software
The reality is that the majority of these devices will contain sensitive data on police investigations as well as confidential information about criminals, suspects and victims. Everyone recognises the loss of laptops and mobiles in the line of duty is inevitable, so it’s vital that forces have the necessary systems in place to track and freeze equipment when it falls into the wrong hands. This approach can help improve cyber security standards, protect the privacy of individuals and prevent.....Read More
The reality is that the majority of these devices will contain sensitive data on police investigations as well as confidential information about criminals, suspects and victims. Everyone recognises the loss of laptops and mobiles in the line of duty is inevitable, so it’s vital that forces have the necessary systems in place to track and freeze equipment when it falls into the wrong hands. This approach can help improve cyber security standards, protect the privacy of individuals and prevent criminals and opportunistic thieves from misusing police devices and stealing data.  Read Less
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