Girish Gupta

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£1.2m worth of equipment stolen from MOD
Sept. 10, 2010

More than £1.2m worth of equipment has been stolen from the Ministry of Defence this year including body armour, rifle sights, night vision goggles and a 'laser weapon'.

Seventeen laptops, including one designated "battlefield", were reported stolen. The MOD was unable to say whether the missing laptops contained sensitive data.

A £10,000 aircraft fuselage vanished in May. More exotic items stolen include a £1,000 laser weapon, a £700 ceremonial sword, £11,000 worth of inflatable dinghies with a trailer, an £11,500 caravan, and immersion suits and life jackets with a value of £3,000.

"Some theft is sadly inevitable but much of this will just be carelessness," Emma Boon, campaign manager at the Taxpayers' Alliance, said. "Large and costly items like vehicles and fuselage should be secure and not open to theft. The MOD of all departments should have better security. They are in charge of the security of the country after all."

Theft of soldiers' smaller items such as ration packs, uniform and webbing totalled more than £31,000, none of which was recovered.

Gone were £430,000 worth of vehicle and plant equipment and £83,000 in cash and cheques, it was discovered through a Freedom of Information Act request.

The sum fails to take into account any items valued at less than £500 or recorded as lost. The data covers the period 21 September 2009 and 21 September 2010. The MOD was unable to explain the disappearance of so much equipment, including valuable items.

"The number of criminal offences within MOD is proportionately lower than within society at large. The MOD Police pursue a national crime reduction strategy to ensure that all crime reported to it is fully investigated," said a spokesman for MOD Police, the organisation's dedicated police force.

"Victims are visited and advised on how to reduce their chances of becoming the subject of further offences. The MOD Police also works closely with the MOD on the overall protection of defence establishments."

The Defence Secretary Liam Fox last month said that the MOD must become leaner to tackle the deficit.

Of the £1.2m worth of equipment stolen, just £85,000 was recovered. In 2009/10, the MOD Police's overall crime detection rate was 57.3%.

"The MOD takes any loss or theft of equipment very seriously and has robust procedures in place to prevent possible future incidents. New processes and instructions have also been implemented to raise awareness of the need for vigilance in all aspects of Departmental security," said an MOD spokesman.

"Investigations are undertaken into every loss or theft, and appropriate disciplinary action taken against those caught."




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© Girish Gupta