Laptop Thief Lands the Bank Details of 15,000 Policemen

November 21, 2006,000+policemen/

A Buglar has stolen bank account details of more than 15,000 Scotland Yard officers following a huge security blunder, it emerged last night.

Sensitive financial information about high-ranking officers, thought to include Metropolitan Police Commissioner Sir Ian Blair, and anti-terrorist detectives were stored on three laptops stolen from the company responsible for the force's pay and pensions services.

Last night, a major security review was under way at Britain's biggest force amid fears the thief could steal vast sums of money from officers' accounts.

It is also feared the computer files - which includes National Insurance numbers - could be used by criminal gangs to create false identities.

The break-in, at the offices of software group LogicaCMG in Peckham, South-East London, is a huge embarrassment to Scotland Yard.

A senior Yard source said: "Heads should roll over this. At a time of unprecedented concerns over security, it is scandalous that a thief can steal such sensitive information."

Detectives are trying to establish whether the thief had deliberately targeted the offices.

The offices in Southwark Street, Peckham, are thought to have been fitted with state-of-the-art security because of the company's sensitive work for the Met.

Officers are trying to establish whether it was working properly when the thief - or thieves - broke in.

Sir Ian Blair is said to be 'furious' about the security breach and has demanded a report on the circumstances of the burglary.

Richard Barnes, a member of the Metropolitan Police Authority, said last night: "The security implications of this are terrifying.

"The potential for identity cloning is vast. I am absolutely horrified that this company did not have better security."

Sources told the Mail that the payroll details of at least half of the Met's 30,000 police officers were on the stolen laptops.

It is thought that sensitive information about several thousand civilian staff were also on the computers, which have not been recovered.

LogicaCMG and its pension administrator partner Paymaster has a 31million seven-year contract to provide a payroll and pensions administration service for the Met's 46,000 officers and civilian staff. The contract was awarded last year.

Sources said the laptops did not contain home addresses or telephone numbers of staff, and there is no suggestion that terrorists were responsible for the raid.

A Scotland Yard spokesman said the burglary happened last Thursday night. It was discovered by a member of staff arriving for workingon Friday morning. She added: "We are in the process of informing Met staff of the theft. A risk assessment of the data on the laptops has been conducted.

"We believe the risk of staff members falling victim to either fraudulent activity or identity theft is minimal."

She said LogicaCMG has offered the commissioner an unreserved apology. A man was arrested on suspicion of burglary at 10.15pm on Friday. He was taken to a South London police station and interviewed. He was later bailed to return to a police station, pending further inquiries.

Louise Fisk, a spokesman for LogicaCMG, which is a major international force in IT services, confirmed that there had been a break-in at one of its premises.

"We have taken immediate action to mitigate any further risk arising from this incident and are cooperating fully with the Metropolitan Police investigation," she added.

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