British authorities have lost a USB memory stick containing information about dangerous criminals
It seems there is no end to the loss of media containing confidential information by British authorities. Now the Home Office has reported that a memory stick containing data transferred from the Police National Computer has been lost. This stick apparently contains unencrypted information on numerous incarcerated criminals in England and Wales. Along with these 84,000 standard data sets, the flash memory is said to contain additional information on 33,000 felons and 10,000 "priority criminals"; this data includes files on police and intelligence investigations.
The data was transferred to the memory stick by the private PA Consulting Group. The company, which was also involved in the development of the controversial ID card project, is involved with the JTRack Programme, which the UK is developing in order to provide police forces with the current locations of repeat offenders and other dangerous criminals, via the web. According to the Home Office website, the goal of the "Prolific and other Priority Offender (PPO) Strategy" is to constantly track these people in order to prevent further criminal acts.
Since the stick disappeared on Monday, investigators fear that police informants could be compromised and that people could commit vigilante acts if they knew that offenders were living in their neighbourhoods. Scotland Yard's Serious Economic Crime Command has started an investigation and is examining, among other things, video footage from the CCTV cameras at PA Consulting Group. So far, the company has not been prepared to comment. Deputy Information Commissioner David Smith characterised the incident as "deeply worrying".