§ Mr. Burstow
To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what work his Department has undertaken to explain the reasons for the change in the level of computer theft over the past five years. 
§ Dr. Moonie
[holding answer 31 January 2002]: Between 1995 and 1999, there were 594 reported thefts of all types of Ministry of Defence computer equipment, including items such as processor boards, keyboards and printers. A total of 267 items were reported stolen in 2000, and 312 items in 2001.
Our first priority has been to concentrate on reducing the risk of further computer theft and losses, and of enhancing computer security to limit the damage should they occur. From an initial review of the available historical data we assess that there are two main reasons for this increase in the number of reported incidents:since 1995 there has been a substantial and sustained growth in the numbers of all types of computer equipment used in support of Defence activity, reflecting a similar trend across Government and in society at large; andthere has also been a significant increase in the MOD's use of portable computers, which, by their nature, are particularly vulnerable to theft.