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Missing Laptops and Mobiles Cost BBC Over £200,000


Missing Laptops and Mobiles Cost BBC Over £200,000

The BBC has mislaid laptops and mobile worth a total of £240,000 a report has revealed.

Staff at the Corporation reported 146 laptops, 65 mobile phones, and 17 Blackberrys missing between April 2008 and March 2010, though presumably not in the back of the same taxi.

The laptops were valued at £219,000, the mobiles £12,913 and the BlackBerrys £9,106, coming to a total of £241,019 - equivalent to 1,656 licence fees.

Of the missing equipment, 19 were recovered, leaving a bill worth £217,569 or one twenty-seventh of Jonathan Ross’s former annual salary.

The information came to light after a Freedom for Information request was filed by computer security company Absolute Software – who by an amazing coincidence punts a laptop tracking service for stolen laptops.

Dave Everitt, Absolute Software's European general manager, was quite angry on our behalf though, and said in a statement, "It is shocking that any organisation could lose so much equipment, but the BBC is just one of many we've seen recently, proving it's all too common.

"In this case, however, this technology is paid for by the licence payer and employees should be far more careful about how they handle it."

It’s a fair comment, when you consider that the average price of the BB laptops comes to £1,500. This seems quite expensive but could be down to the BBC staff requiring laptops powerful enough to edit video comfortably on the go.

A BBC spokeswoman responded in a statement that, "The BBC takes theft very seriously and has implemented a number of measures to reduce the level of crime. The portability of laptops and phones means that in any large organisation there is an inevitable risk of theft."


August 10, 2010, 10:02 pm

"It&#8217s a fair comment, when you consider that the average price of the BB laptops comes to £1,500. This seems quite expensive but could be down to the BBC staff requiring laptops powerful enough to edit video comfortably on the go."

Or, cynically, it could be down to the BBC's rather unique funding status and the fact that it doesn't really need to worry about the little things that bother us mere mortals, like cost control.


August 10, 2010, 10:29 pm

Scrap the licence fee and make them pay their own way. Those laptops would suddenly get replaced by netbooks and the cheapest PAYG phones available. @John - yeah, the BBC doesn't really care because we have to fork out for their mistakes.

Daniel Gerson

August 10, 2010, 10:35 pm

Without knowing how many laptops the BBC manage per year.. as well as the ratio lost/claimed for/written off by other companies compared to the number they manage, the article does not provide a means of knowing whether this ratio is better or poorer than average for other big organizations.

All you can say is that if zero lost is their goal they have room for improvement.


August 10, 2010, 10:55 pm

@DMG - "the article does not provide a means of knowing whether this ratio is better or poorer than average for other big organizations."

PC Pro have a blog article that seems to answer that:



August 10, 2010, 11:21 pm

I'd like to know which proportion were LOST or STOLEN. Being the cynic that I am, I don't believe that devices go missing. I'd argue that some LOST laptops are conveniently lost in order to get a new device. Those stolen may be a result of bbc types being targeted, but I'm sure because the proportion of stolen is much less than "misplaced", "missing" or "lost"


August 11, 2010, 12:03 am

OLD NEWS. Please see: http://www.guardian.co.uk/medi...

Mathew White

August 11, 2010, 12:41 am

I freelanced at the BBC a a couple of times and have to say, all manner of tech was just left laying around. The opportunities for people to pocket stuff in their offices is astronomical! (I would like to categorically state for the record I never did!)


August 11, 2010, 1:41 am

Oh come on. BBC has 22,000 employees and they lost/stolen 146 laptops over 2 years... Not that bad considering they are out and about at loads of events like Glastonbury and Wimbledon, and reporting from all over the place. Keep the BBC as it is thanks.


August 11, 2010, 2:40 am


Spoken like a BBC gravy train employee, seriously did they need 500+ army @ Glastonbury? Nope.

I don't care for laptops but I do care the licence fee is squandered on shoes for the bimbos and a team of six plus reporters watching BP engineers in the gulf reporting on one story.


August 11, 2010, 2:46 am

@Peter nail=head


August 11, 2010, 4:57 am

@hank: Apparently the Beeb actually sent 274 employees to Glastonbury 2010, which sounds like a lot, but since I don't know the first thing about how to broadcast a massive live event, I'm not about to criticize. However, I can understand a few basic figures, so here's a comparison:

Beijing Olympics - £15.565m

Euro 2008 - £8.682m

Wimbledon - £4.217m

BBC Proms - £3.712m

Glastonbury - £1.737m

Big Weekend - £888,000

£1.7m is about as much as a couple episodes of Dr. Who costs, which I think isn't bad for three days coverage of 20+ stages. On the whole, a lot of this criticism smacks of a media-induced kneejerk, much like this laptop story.

And no, I am in no way connected to the BBC, I just like a bit of context.




August 11, 2010, 2:17 pm

Being forced to pay £11.88 a month for a very poor selection of English Sport biased TV channels that I don't often watch becomes even more annoying when reading articles like this.

The fee should be scrapped tomorrow.


August 11, 2010, 3:31 pm

"The fee should be scrapped tomorrow."

To be replaced by what? Commercial advertising like ITV and Sky?

No thank you very much.


August 11, 2010, 3:32 pm

Keep the licence fee!! Yay.

It's fashionable to call for no licence fee. In time, most of you will bemoan it's disappearance when it's gone. Just watch ITV 1 for a bit and then get your heads from out of that dark place.


August 11, 2010, 3:46 pm

Keep the fee and make it optional, or allow adverts. It's being forced to pay that I find annoying. The billions of pounds the BBC gets would be far better spent elsewhere.


August 11, 2010, 4:07 pm


I stand corrected, I consider the following a big waste more than missing IT, the BBC is a gravy train.

Olympics - BBC hire an American for pundit, he even opens our Olympic track.

Wimbledon - BBC hire Germans, Americans, Australians for pundits, maybe the beeb has inside info that we will never win it.

World Cup - BBC hire anyone of an international flavour - Adebayor who cannot speak clear coherent English (did ANYBODY screen test this guy?), along with expenses for two dull English strikers who failed to win anything at internationally, a Scotsman who bottled it when it came to his country, yes the qualification process is extremly low.

Glastonbury - BBC hire Jo Whiley and Zane Lowe.

Graham Norton.

This could go on forever, scrap the licence fee, I don't like paying for a world service, these "specialist" pundits/presenters and the government bad news sunday drip feed.


August 11, 2010, 11:14 pm

Of course. We should scrap one of the few establishments that still affords us some degree of respect in the rest of the world. We should allow greedy unscrupulous bastards like Murdoch to take over the vast majority of our media (while lesser greedy unscrupulous bastards like Desmond pick up the dregs). And why should people have intelligent journalism and debate, or properly written and acted dramas, forced on them? Surely all we really want is more advertisements - and then product placement in between the advertisements, along with plugs for the channel owner's newspapers and other product lines. Plus, I simply don't like James Corden. So scrap it already. Incidentally, the other day I noticed the local library was displaying the Twilight books, which I dislike. Therefore all public funding for libraries should be scrapped. Also I drive a car, therefore I should not pay a penny towards any sort of public transport provision. Short-sighted selfishness is definitely the way forward.

Now that I've disabled the sarcasm generator: Please name another broadcaster that offers the same breadth of content, from documentaries to arts programming, to quality drama (both imported and home-grown); from light-entertainment for the millions who just want to watch celebrities dancing badly, to programmes catering to niche interests and groups who otherwise simply wouldn't be represented - most of this to a high quality - for under £12 per month?

The BBC is far from perfect. By all means, scrap Marks Thompson and Byford. Cut salaries for executives and "talent" (and instead offer the incentive of some independence and creative control rather than censoring based on negative headlines). Stop wasting money on things like CGI idents or sending correspondents to stand in a field or on a rooftop for no practical reason. But most of all, make decisions based on the quality of output rather than celebrity "brands" or potential ratings - areas where the LAST thing they should do is copy the private sector. Some may be happy with only rubbish being free-to-air, and people having to seek out and pay over the odds for anything else. Personally, I happen to think "Educate, inform, entertain" is not such a bad idea - or at least better than the alternative of "Advertise, masturbate, vegetate".

David Ashby

August 12, 2010, 5:22 am

It seems the BBC is dammed if they do and dammed if they don't, for everyone who pays the licence fee that objects so strongly, the answer is simple, dispose of your TV then you don't have to pay the licence fee.

You pay taxes and look at all the I.T. issues with hard drives usb sticks etc etc that government has


August 12, 2010, 2:25 pm

this is a problem with all public sector stuff... for they have a completely different attitude towards money. for them it literally grows on trees, theres no need to do what private companies do, they just recieve a nice lump of money from somewhere.

i betting "oh ive lost my blackberry, oh never mind i will get a new one from work tomorrow".... work tomorrow ... "hi cindy here have a new blackberry, plenty more where they came from"

in my company you have to prove every inch of your worth before you get a black berry and then you must guard it with your life as if its your own child. if you lose it, your in a bit of shit.


August 13, 2010, 1:37 am

otispunkmeyer86: The idea that all those working in "the public sector" can call on unlimited funding and waste it however they like provides endless amusement to those of us who have actually worked in that sector.

Try working in local government, with ridiculous central government restrictions on where money can and cannot be spent (and being given funding and instructed to spend it on certain projects, then having all further funding withdrawn yet still being expected to magically produce the income necessary to continue said projects). Then there are the results of the naive belief in the inherent superiority of the private sector: Try watching thousands or millions tossed away on consultants, PR firms and their ilk. Try having to deal with private contractors who can do pretty much whatever they like (which often means doing bugger-all), leaving you to complete the work they're being paid for. Try watching work outsourced to "more efficient" private-sector companies who subsequently can't do the job, leading to yet more duplication and extra workload. And all this while your own department cannot claim a penny for such extravagant luxuries as working doors, repairing rotting walls or preventing leaks. You have to prove every inch of your worth before you get a Blackberry? I have to go through roughly the same trials to order stationery (for the benefit of customers, not myself).

Having worked in both sectors, I have seen waste and efficiency in both in equal measure. And in both I have continually had to take the flak for customers' dissatisfaction thanks to awful decision-making much much further up the pay scale. But the key difference is that in the private sector most customers at least had the sense to recognise my role as an employee trying to do my job well but within certain restraints - whereas in the public sector I am apparently floating through life in a gilded cocoon, wiping my backside with an endless roll of money. Well, unfortunately I live and work in the real world rather than the fantasy currently peddled by the Government.


August 13, 2010, 7:46 pm

@MrGodfrey: Thanks for your input, I've rather enjoyed reading it. I work for a small tech company that sells a large proportion of its wares to local government, and I've seen much of what you describe.

I've also seen public sector organisations purchase systems from us just to keep up with government mandated targets so they're awarded extra funding next year. Hopefully this is something the current government will fix (or not in my case :) ).

I've also seen one of our directors change the entire company's mobile phone provider so he can get his hands on an iPhone...


August 13, 2010, 11:06 pm

@Chris: Thankyou. The whole idea of having to intentionally spend more than is necessary - whether it be to meet government targets or simply to justify the same budget next year - is insane, and I too hope the current Govt will do something about this. I don't hold out much hope though. And they will still adhere to the doctrine of "Jobs for the boys" as much as the last. Public "servants" and businessmen alike whose incompetence and/or corruption is no secret nevertheless continue to be employed with high pay and benefits and a scary degree of power.

I do not hate the whole private sector - that would be silly - which is why I am irritated by many of the claims now being made about how "the public sector" or "public sector workers" have it so easy. The average private sector employee is not successfully lobbying the Government to allow them to evade tax on an astronomical scale, nor is the average public sector worker sitting around trying to figure out ways to waste public money (bearing in mind they pay tax too) for the sheer joy of it. On the other hand, your director wastes the company's time and money (which ultimately wastes customers' money too), while those in an equivalent position in my organisation do exactly the same and fly off to endless meetings of questionable importance which could in any case be held over the phone or internet. I have absolutely no problem with people highlighting the abuses that go on, nor the bureaucracy that leads to frontline services being shut down while millions somehow remain for someone's pet project. But to simply pit overstretched and poorly rewarded private sector workers against their public sector counterparts seems to be a case of "Divide and rule".

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