Missing Holyrood Items Include Mass Storage Devices

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By Andrea McCallum

THE SCOTTISH Government has had more than 1,000 security passes, 27 laptop computers, 20 BlackBerry devices – and a banana – lost or stolen over the last five years.

Figures revealed that memory sticks, hard drives and PC base units have also gone astray since 2005 – as well as 12 apples and a business suit.

And now the loss of mass data storage devices has raised fears over the possible threat to personal privacy and organisational security.

Tory justice spokesman Bill Aitken said: “Things have indeed come to a pretty pass when even the corridors of power are not immune to the acts of criminals.

“At the same time, it goes without saying that some of our essentially high paid civil servants could take more care of their property – especially taxpayers’ property.”

Other items reported lost or stolen include a guillotine, a jar of coffee, a kettle and a bottle of champagne.

Independent MSP Margo McDonald said: “Even a small number of lost security passes falling into the wrong hands could allow a more systematic theft to be carried out.”

She added that the losses “warrant some kind of investigation into the use of equipment like this”.

Public sector organisations have faced repeated criticism over losses of data and the potential risk to personal security.

NHS Grampian was censured by the Information Commissioner’s Office in September last year after three separate incidents.

Personal data of 200 patients and staff was found in a confidential waste bag, a laptop holding personal details of 1500 patients was stolen and an email containing sensitive personal information was distributed.

Memory sticks were banned by NHS Lothian after they lost a device storing 127 patients in June 2008.

And a Royal Navy officer from the Ministry of Defence was robbed of a laptop which contained the personal details of 60,000 Scots in January 2008.

Green MSP Patrick Harvie said: “The loss of potentially sensitive data relating to people or to policy decisions is a serious concern.

“Everyone is aware of high-profile data losses of this nature and the Scottish Government needs to be vigilant.”

LibDem justice spokesman Robert Brown said the level of lost or stolen items seemed “very high”.

He added: “Of course there are people in and about in terms of visitors and staff and contractors so to that degree I can understand how it can happen.

“But it does sound as though there needs to be tighter regulation on what people do with their laptop after hours.”

A Scottish Government spokesman said: “The government takes the loss or theft of items from its buildings very seriously and has robust guidelines to help ensure items are kept secure.

“With regard to security passes, the percentage lost or stolen has halved since 2005.

“We continue to work to achieve the highest levels of security and work is under way to improve the security incident management process.”

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