Saturday, 31 January 2015

Lost in the post

My second reaction (after the initial paranoid feeling that such data were worth much to certain people) to the story that a disk containing details of three sensitive cases had gone missing after being put in the mail was: what was wrong with "the bag"? It turned out that one of the less publicised coalition government cuts was to the government courier service. From the final report (pdf):

A secure car service for Government Minsters and senior officials was first started in 1946 and an inter-departmental postal service (IDS) was introduced in 1961 to provide a speedy and secure mail courier service between Government buildings. The Government Car and Despatch Agency was formed in 1997 to continue the provision of these two core services to central Government departments and other public bodies. The services and the Agency remained largely unchanged until 2010 when, as a response to changes in the way Ministers travelled and a reduction in the demand for mail services, the Government decided to reform the GCDA. That was largely achieved by closing down the mail service and significantly reducing the cost of providing a car service and by transferring the Agency’s responsibilities to its parent Department.

Having said all that, the Royal Mail is pretty secure. Thefts from it are rare enough to hit the national press when they occur. In my experience, its major failing is in delivering to the wrong address, something which is unlikely to happen in the case of government departments. There is clearly more to this story than we have been told so far.

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