Friday, August 22, 2008

Home Office loses data on all UK prisoners

Daily Telegraph
By Robert Winnett, Deputy Political Editor
22 Aug 2008

The Home Office has lost confidential information on every prisoner in the country and more than 40,000 serious criminals sparking yet another Government data crisis. It has led to fears that the taxpayer may now face a multi-million pound compensation bill from criminals whose safety may be compromised. The home addresses of some of Britain's most prolific and serious offenders - including those who have committed violent and sexual crimes - are understood to be among the data now missing. They were on a computer memory stick used by Home Office consultants which has gone missing over the past week. A full investigation has been launched and the police have been informed.
The latest data scandal follows the loss of 25 million 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.
It is understood that PA Consulting were employed by the Home Office to track and analyse serious and prolific offenders as part of the JTrack programme. The Home Office sent confidential personal details on the criminals to the consulting company on a secure encrypted email which was then transferred in an unencrypted form onto a computer memory stick. The stick is now missing.
The Home Office said that the missing data included information - such as home addresses - on 33,000 individuals who have committed at least six offences in the past year. There is also data on about 10,000 people regarded as "prolific and other priority offenders" by the Government. Details of every prisoner in England and Wales - 84,000 people - including their expected release date and date of home detention curfew - is also on the stick along with information about drug treatment programmes.

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