Stolen cameras highlight service’s security problems with equipment

Bradford Telegraph and Argus: County fire chiefs bring in ‘theft’ controls County fire chiefs bring in ‘theft’ controls

Tighter controls over equipment have been introduced at West Yorkshire Fire and Rescue Service after the theft of thermal imaging cameras worth thousands of pounds.

A report to West Yorkshire Fire Authority’s audit committee next week says a series of thefts within the organisation in 2012 highlighted “serious control issues” about the security and management of its assets.

Last December, 40-year-old David Maddra, who worked in the stores at the service’s Birkenshaw headquarters, was given an eight-month jail sentence, suspended for 12 months, after he admitted stealing six thermal imaging cameras.

Leeds Crown Court heard inquiries began when the authority discovered someone in the south of England was trying to buy replacement parts for a camera which had belonged to the service.

Maddra later accepted he had sold five cameras to an eBay seller for £200 each, saying he thought there was an unwritten rule that staff could take items which were intended to be thrown away. He admitted six counts of theft.

A report to a previous meeting of the audit committee said an audit of inventory and security controls found a “serious lack of accountability and proper recording which had facilitated the thefts.”

But a follow-up audit, referred to in a report to next week’s meeting, found action has been taken to “address all the recommendations agreed” at the outcome of the investigation.

A West Yorkshire Fire and Rescue Service spokesman said: “The theft of cameras has been subject to an audit report and follow-up report, which has given us a positive opinion of assurance.” A separate IT audit carried out found there were ‘gaps in the system’ from items being taken out of ‘supplies’.

It also reveals the body found the security of IT assets once booked out of ‘supplies’ by IT staff failed to meet Financial Procedure Rules because there was “no or insufficient evidence” of stock records, periodic stock checks, annual inventory checks or year-end stock valuations. But it said management had responded “robustly” and, by the time of the meeting, a full inventory check on all items valued above £100 will have taken place across the authority. Any discrepancies will be reported and investigated as appropriate to establish a baseline for better control moving forward,” it added.

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