Tuesday, March 11, 2008

They lost how many?

It appears that more than 11,000 military ID cards have been lost or stolen in the last two years, according to the Ministry of Defence.

Some 4,433 went missing in 2006 and 6,812 last year.

We discover this via a PQ from Liam Fox. We then sit here quivering with rage and fear. No get this, if a serving serviceman loses his military ID card he or she is up on charge pronto, at least that was case when I last had one.

There are about 120,000 people in the armed services. At just over 5% that is a major loss rate. But more serious than that. The fact that there are severe penalties for the loss of the MOD ID card makes people take keeping it secure seriously. So with an approximate population of 60 million we could be looking at a loss theft rate of about 3,000,000 per annum. And that is as if there were incentives to keep them safe. Without those incentives the figures are likely to be far higher.

Human ingenuity is just no match for human incompetence.

Those nice people over at ARRSE have put me right on a couple of facts in this piece.
Firstly there no longer seems to be a charge for loss of the MOD identity card. Which seems a little odd in the current security climate but so be it.
Secondly, my numbers for service personnel were all over the place and a better estimate would be 190,000. This of course puts my maths badly out of kilter.
Thus if we were to extrapolate from lost or stolen military ID cards (about 2.8%) to the general population we will find that from a population of 60 million , (which I believe to be a wild underestimate, but the government seem to be remarkably coy about the true figures) we are still looking at figures of 1,680,000 missing national ID cards a year.

I would say that despite my appalling night mathematics the point still stands. This is an appalling attrition rate, the costs and administration of which would be colossal.

Consider the case of stolen or missing credit cards. There is a financial cost in having a card lost or stolen. I am waiting for APACS to get back to me, but my guess is the number is huge - if my own experience is anything to go by.

Update 2
Spoken to APACS and there are no industry wide figures available for lost or stolen credit cards in the UK. Which is odd, and maybe could be a peice of research for No2ID as they ramp up their campaign against the stealth introduction of ID cards into the UK.

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