Metropolitan Police officers lost more than 2,000 secure Airwave radios since 2006, according to a Freedom of Information response published on the force’s website.
The radios provide a secure, cross-service communications network to the UK’s emergency services, aiding co-operation where more than one service is needed to deal with an incident.
In 2011 992 of the radios were lost, including 694 found to be missing as a result of a “bulk audit” carried out in November of that year. A further 321 were lost in 2012.
The FOI response reveals the total cost of the losses to be more than £807,000.
Where a radio is lost and cannot be located within one hour the handset is to blocked from the network.
Official guidance says officers “must not attempt to cover up the fact that an Airwave radio terminal has been lost, stolen or is unaccounted for.”
It adds: “Lost, stolen or unaccounted for radios must be reported without delay to ensure that the Airwave Service infrastructure is not unnecessarily compromised and to maintain the security of MPS information within the Airwave Service.“
If subsequently found but determined to have been out of the possession of a Met officer, a handset must be checked for any signs of tampering before it can be reactivated.
Commenting on the figures a Met spokesperson said the FOI response had failed to include the number of radios subsequently located after being reported lost.
The spokesperson commented: “The figures provided in the FOIA only refer to instances of individual reports of handsets being lost – it does not include the number subsequently found at a later date.
“We take the security of our radios extremely seriously and instruct officers to report a lost handset immediately, even if just temporarily misplaced – this has a significant impact on the figures. This is illustrated by the fact that during 2012/13, 959 radios were reported as lost and 955 were found.”