West Midlands Police have lost a memory stick which may contain highly sensitive data on terrorist suspects, according to media reports.
West Midlands Police said it could not comment on the contents of the 4GB USB memory stick, but the Birmingham Mail newspaper reported it held "top-secret information on terror suspects."
But Len Jackson, commissioner at the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC), currently investigating the loss, said the matter was “extremely serious”.
The police would not say whether the data was encrypted. The stick was reportedly lost after being taken out of a police station in Castle Vale, Birmingham, by a police officer.
“We will use our own independent investigators to examine the circumstances surrounding the loss of this data stick, what policies and procedures are in place at West Midlands Police to protect sensitive information and whether these are compliant with legal requirements on data protection,” he said.
“It is important that we establish the facts in this case and identify any lessons to be learned in order to reduce the risk of such incidents occurring again.”
The news comes a month after it was revealed that home office contractor PA Consulting had lost the details of 84,000 prisoners on an unencrypted memory stick. That contractor has since been sacked from its role with the Ministry of Justice.
Earlier this month, the personal details of 5,000 prison staff were lost, when a hard drive containing the data went missing after being sent to IT contractor EDS.