A USB memory stick containing information on hundreds on police investigations has gone missing in Edinburgh, it was revealed today.
The device was reported missing on February 26 but may have been misplaced up to two months earlier at Lothian and Borders Police’s headquarters in the Fettes area of the city.
A search has been launched to recover the memory stick but police have stated that the loss will not affect any ongoing investigations.
The flash drive was last used by staff in the force’s Road Policing Division and is reported to contain details on more than 750 vehicles “of interest” to the police.
It has emerged that the information on the device was unencrypted and that it was intended for use within a secure compound at police headquarters.
A police spokesman told the press that, “Lothian and Borders Police can confirm that it is unable to locate a USB memory stick.”
“We are taking this loss very seriously and have commissioned a review into how we hold and transport information within the organisation.
“The reality of modern day policing is such that we exploit the latest technology. However, like every other large organisation, we have a responsibility to safeguard the information we hold,” he added.
Lothian and Borders Police’s missing memory stick is the latest in a series of high-profile losses by government and law enforcement organisations.
In April 2008 it was revealed that a laptop belonging to a high ranking member of the Ministry of Defence was stolen while its owner ate at a McDonalds restaurant near MoD headquarters at Whitehall.
And in August the Home Office admited that contractor PA Consulting had lost a memory stick containing information on all 84,000 prisoners in England and Wales.
The incidents have raised concerns about data security and identity theft, as well as the government’s ability to cope with the transition to the digital age.