MoD criticised over rise in military kit theft

Night vision goggles were among the items stolen Night vision goggles worth £45,000 were among the items stolen

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The Ministry of Defence is doing little to stop the rise in thefts of expensive military equipment, MPs have said.

The Commons defence committee said £1.9m worth of kit was stolen last year and only £19,000 worth was recovered.

The MPs said there were only 11 prosecutions, seven cautions and five dismissals from the armed forces.

Among the items stolen were helicopter rotor blades worth £50,000 and night vision goggles costing £45,000, as well as an inflatable boat.

'Vigour'

The committee said it expected the MoD "to tackle this issue with a greater degree of vigour".

Its report concluded: "We recommend that the MoD clarify the roles of the various police and security forces dealing with fraud and theft and provide further information on how the problems of prevention, detection and recovery are being managed within the MoD."

Senior military officers gave themselves a pat on the back, saying the 150% rise in annual thefts, to 433, was partly due to better reporting of such crimes.

The Permanent Secretary at the MoD, Ursula Brennan, said more attention was now given to guarding firearms and other dangerous items.

She told the committee the military had "more things that are of interest for people to steal" and she said there was a balance between security and deploying kit quickly.

The MoD said it had set up a defence crime board and issued fraud awareness education.

'Need for vigilance'

An MoD spokesman said: "MoD takes any loss or theft of equipment very seriously and has robust procedures in place to prevent possible future incidents. New processes and instructions have also been implemented to raise awareness of the need for vigilance in all aspects of departmental security.

"Investigations are undertaken into every loss or theft. Criminal prosecutions and appropriate disciplinary action is taken against those caught, as appropriate."

He denied helicopter rotorblades had been stolen and said it was a rotor tuner and it had since been located.

The spokesman added that 11 out of the 39 sets of night vision goggles had been recovered.

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