Data on 130,000 criminals lost
Confidential information on almost 130,000 prisoners and dangerous criminals has been lost by the Home Office, sparking yet another Government data crisis.
By Robert Winnett and Jon Swaine
A full investigation is now underway to find the memory stick – containing information on all 84,000 prisoners in England and Wales, including some release dates, plus details of 43,000 most serious and persistent offenders – which was descibed as a 'toxic liability' by David Smith, the Deputy Information Commissioner.
Mr Grieve said: "The Home Office is entrusted with a great deal of highly confidential material and it seems to be entirely incapable of keeping it secure. And the consequences are very serious. They're serious because it may lead to the identity of the people involved being revealed.
The new scandal follows the loss of 25m child benefit records last year and details of millions of learner drivers and army recruits earlier this year. Whitehall departments were ordered to tighten procedures in the wake of the previous crises and the latest loss has stunned insiders.
Keith Vaz, a Labour MP and Chairman of the Home Affairs Select Committee, said the implications of the loss of prisoners' data were "very, very serious indeed".
The Deputy Commissioner said: "It is deeply worrying that after a number of major data losses more personal information has been reported lost. It is vital that sensitive information, such as prisoner records, is held securely at all times.
A spokesman for PA Consulting, which has also helped to develop the national ID card scheme, refused to comment.