back to article Why can't civil servants keep a grip on their BlackBerrys?

Butter-fingered civil servants are continuing to hurl away their personal tech devices, figures released to the House of Commons yesterday show, with BlackBerrys particularly prone to going walkies. Labour's Gareth Thomas MP asked tabled questions to a number of ministers about whether their departments had "lost any (a) …


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  1. Ceilidhman

    Scottish losses

    How do you stop a Scotsman being sea-sick? .... Put a penny between his teeth.

    Looks like the same applies to Blackberrys & laptops

  2. Paul Woodhouse

    in other news the Northern Island Office gained 127 computers or hard drives, no less than 71 BlackBerrys and "293 other items of IT equipment between 1 May 2010 and 30 September 2011".

    1. Solomon Grundy
      Thumb Up


      That's one of the funniest things I've heard in days!

  3. Daniel B.

    All Ministry of Justice laptops and BlackBerrys are encrypted and protected with a complex password


  4. The BigYin


    ...surely they have tracking software installed? PreyProject seems good (I've mucked about with it a bit). Unfortunately they don't offer support for RIM, they probably could if the government punted them a few notes.

    Or maybe RIM offer this service already. Dunno.

    Either way, unless they were mugged the civil servants should be made to pay for a replacement.

    1. peter_dtm

      yup - if you can't show a good and valid reason why your mobile/blackberry/laptop has gone missing (mugged complete with Police report) then - like I would have to in private industry - they should pay. Given the stupid salaries most of those with mobile kit get paid; they probably wouldn't even notice it

  5. Solomon Grundy

    Disproportionate Cost

    This nifty little loophole was put into the FOIA acts in both the UK and the USA not so much to prevent people from making impossible requests, but to give management an opportunity to not answer a question. This clause also gives the agencies/ministries a really good reason to keep data in disparate silos where they comply with data retention regulations but because the data is difficult to compile/analyze they can answer uncomfortable questions with "it costs too much".

  6. Roger Stenning

    Hang on a sec...

    Isn't a Blackberry a mobile phone (well, a smartphone of a sort) as well? Were the mobile phones they lost perhaps WinMob, or Nokias, or even Androids? Here's a hint: They're all mobile phones.

    Another reason why our elected representatives need a course in joined up writing, and maybe a refresher on the crayon course as well, if they cannot recognise a bleedin' Mobile Phone?!

    I'm the one slowly banging his head on the classroom desk...

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    They need better policies

    Broken/lost kit is simple to handle - force the employee to pay a proportion of the cost, depending upon how it was lost/broken.

    Lost your phone in the pub? Fine, pay me 80%.

    Phone stolen from locked car? Fine, pay me 20% (don't leave it on view, dumbass)

    Phone stolen in mugging? Fine, don't pay me at all.

    Also stops all the smug cunts in sales 'accidentally breaking' their 9 month old laptop because the guy next to them has a newer one.

    1. ZankerH

      This'll just increase the incidents of "mugging". Of course, the victims will have forgotten to identify the attacker or contact the police, out of emotional distress.

    2. Oor Nonny-Muss

      Exactly what we did...

      ... to the sales & marketing bodies that used to lose stupid volumes of hardware (typically after a rash of moaning "my PC is too slow" calls to the helpdesk coincidentally when their mate in the office next door had just got a better/bigger/faster/lighter one)

      No problem - you lost your PC, hand me your chargecode & a brief outline of where it was lost/stolen (together with the crime reference number if stolen), I'll confirm it with your department finance contact and then I'll process that immediately.

      Amazing how many of them were found suddenly - including stolen ones.

    3. Stratman

      My last employer (I'm now retired) had the idea of giving us all Blackberries to replace the huge paper rotas we were sent every week. We were called into a meeting room to have them bestowed on us, and were told in no uncertain terms how we were to look after them as if they were our own, and what penalties would befall us if we lost one regardless of how it happened.

      Almost to a man (and woman) we got up and went to leave, saying that if they wanted us to carry their kit around we'll do it at their risk, not ours.

      We won.

    4. Tom 35

      'accidentally breaking'

      Also stops all the smug cunts in sales 'accidentally breaking' their 9 month old laptop because the guy next to them has a newer one.

      I found keeping a few extra crappy looking old ones around as loaners for lost/broken items worked great for keeping the number of broken/lost items down.

      It's amazing how often people find their "lost" 6 month old Blackberry when you give them a three year old one to use until they come due for a new one in 18 months. To make sure they don't get any ideas I show them the B/W Blackberry "look at this one, it still works! They built them like tanks back then....".

  8. John A Blackley

    One option

    'You are issued this device in order to perform work for (insert department name here). You are required to take measures to protect this device as set out in (insert policy name here). If you fail to take these measures and, as a result, this device is lost or stolen the retail price of this device will be withdrawn from your salary.'

  9. N2

    No problem?

    Its public money which they are experts at wasting.

    Loosing it is just another way to upgrade


  10. Bluenose

    Lets see Ministry of Justice

    Who have lots of staff who work in courts where they are busy prosecuting lots of 'tea leaves' and other such miscreants! Perhaps simply not leaving the bag around or letting them give you a nice a hug might stop some of the thefts.

  11. Chad H.
    Thumb Down

    Of course

    All these figures mean jack all unless we know how many devices there are total at each department AND what the loss rate is amongst the general population.

    But you know things like that get in the way of a hatchet job against the civil service....

  12. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    But first!

    What agency bears no costs or responsibilities for any mistakes it makes and (usually) has no service level agreements in place even though it has £multi-billion contracts? (The losses, if any, just come out of another budget.)

    (Yes, you guessed it.)

    What is really needed is service level agreements in which appointed agents or agencies accept full responsibilities for what they are commissioned to do.

    But! We really should be positive about UK mandarinery: it has great income levels, wonderful pension plans, remarkable relocation allowances, mostly traditional recruitment avenues (family related, alma mater related, ... )

  13. JaitcH

    Loss elimination is simple - make employees buy smarphones

    Ownership implies pride. If the government, and companies, paid an allowance to employees calculated on a useful life of three years, any employee losing the product is responsible for it's replacement.

    A similar principle was used for salesmen. Instead of their employer leasing cars, with lease complications if an employee left, the company paid their lease payments wth the lease in the employees name.. The bottom line was there were fewer staff turnovers.

    Apart from outright robbery, I find it difficult to understand how people are always losing cell phones. I have used two way radios and cells for decades and have never lost one. Mind you, I don't use those flimsy belt-mounted quick release holders, I use theft proof 'holsters' of my own design based upon a handgun holster. Miscreants have attempted snatch theft, but they withstood the attack.

    I wonder how many Lemon 4's will get 'lost' now it has been replaced with an upgrade that actually works? Perhaps insurers will let us know.

  14. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    And the other devices will be

    3G dongles, WiFi Cards, Iphones (not CESG approved - therefore personal) USB cables, Laptop bags... The grief that it causes to us ex-helpdesk persons is immense.. The annoying thing is when they expect a replacement straight away!

    This probably also excludes the laptops and blackberries that have suffered vengance by their owners, and we've have seen it all!

    1. Chad H.

      To be fair

      AnyoNe who doesn't need the replacement straight away probably didn't need the device in the first place.

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