London Councils lose 1,300 laptops, mobiles and tablets

London councils lose 1,300 devices including laptops, mobile phones and tablet computers over the last three financial years, according to official figures compiled using the Freedom of Information Act

by Patrick Sullivan, Political Editor on 20 January 2020 09:35

Laptop

The number of Council devices reported lost or stolen over the three most recent Financial years has more than doubled from 304 in 2016-17, to 635 in 2018-19, according to research collated by the Parliament Street Think Tank.

The data, obtained via the Freedom of Information (FOI) act, analysed results across 23 London Councils and found that 1,293 devices were lost over the three financial years. The device reported lost or stolen most often was mobile phones at 951 in total; rising from 215 in FY 2016-17 to 478 in FY 2018-19, a percentage increase of 122 per cent.

Additionally, 262 laptops had been reported as lost in total – 64 in FY 2016-17, almost doubling to 124 by FY 2018-19. Tablet losses jumped from 26 in 2016-17 to 33 in 2017-18; the total amount lost tallied at 80.

The Council which saw the most device losses was Lambeth, which recorded 281 device losses in total; 58 in 2016-17 up to 121 in 2017-18, a percentage increase of 108 per cent. Mobile phones accounted for 84 per cent of total devices reported lost.

The second and third most affected Councils were Richmond and Wandsworth (reporting together) and Brent which lost 123 and 170 devices respectively. Richmond and Wandsworth saw a 666 per cent increase in lost devices, from 9 to 69, and Brent saw a 74 per cent increase from 42 to 73. Both areas also saw mobile phones as the most lost or stolen device with Richmond losing 86 and Brent losing 143 in total.

Andy Harcup, EMEA Vice President, Absolute Software said, “With flexible working on the rise, opportunistic thieves will always be on the lookout for misplaced laptops and mobiles, the majority of which could contain confidential public sector data. If said device ends up in the wrong hands, these councils and the constituents they serve could be facing severe consequences, including a major data breach with citizen details finding their way onto the dark web.” It's time for all organisations to wake up to the very real risks posed by stolen devices in terms of data security." 

Harcup continued, "Every single council should have robust end-point security measures in place to ensure that devices reported missing can be accessed, tracked, deleted and frozen appropriately.”

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