Military laptops are stolen from Portsmouth base

CRIME SCENE Portsmouth Naval Base
CRIME SCENE Portsmouth Naval Base
Secretary of State for Defence Gavin Williamson. Pictute: LPhot Ioan Roberts

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TWO military laptops have been stolen from Portsmouth Naval Base in the last year.

The computers are among £8,400 worth of equipment taken from the base, HMS Collingwood, HMS Excellent, and the former Royal Haslar Hospital.

Data obtained by The News also shows a £636 officer’s sword went missing from the axed aircraft carrier HMS Ark Royal after it was decommissioned last March. And more than £2,000 of fuel was pinched from the base in 2010.

Of the 16 navy items reported as stolen since 2008, only a £25 police baton was returned.

The laptops, which had a combined value of £2,050, were reported missing within days of each other on June 29 and July 1 last year.

The navy denied this could lead to a security breach as portable encryption devices which allow access to sensitive information were not lost.

A spokesman said: ‘The thieves certainly would not have access to classified information. Because of the encryption, they would not be able to access any of the information on it.’

Commenting on the other thefts, he said: ‘We have a high degree of security in our naval bases but no degree of security is 100 per cent efficient.

‘Thousands of people work in our naval bases and shore establishments and it’s inevitable, unfortunately, that some items might go missing or be stolen. Our level of security is extremely high and we account for our equipment in a far more strict way than other organisations.

‘We have a robust system, but no system of security – however efficient it is – is absolutely foolproof against thefts or items being mislaid.’

The theft of military kit is something the armed forces has been urged to address.

Earlier this year, the Commons defence select committee said it was ‘concerned’ at the level of military theft and fraud after official figures showed it has been rising year on year.

Some £1.9m worth of kit was stolen in 2010/11 – of which only £19,000 was recovered.

Portsmouth North MP Penny Mordaunt, who sits on the defence committee, said: ‘It’s an issue we are monitoring very closely and continue to keep our eye on.’