UK Politics

Police probe laptop thefts from Parliamentary buildings

Keith Vaz
Image caption Mr Vaz was elsewhere in Westminster at the time of the theft

The Metropolitan Police are investigating a spate of laptop thefts from Parliamentary buildings.

The news came as Labour MP Keith Vaz revealed he was the latest victim, when a laptop and iPad were stolen from his Westminster office on Thursday.

Mr Vaz called for a "more robust approach" to security inside parliamentary buildings.

Among the other items reported stolen in recent years are an orchid, a £1,000 candlestick and 10 chairs.

Official documents show the chairs, reportedly taken from Portcullis House - where many MPs have their offices - in 2008, were recovered.

As well as laptops, the list of items taken also includes mobile phones, a camera, cash, knives and a bicycle.

CCTV cameras

Mr Vaz's office is within the Norman Shaw North building on Victoria Embankment, close to the Palace of Westminster.

The MP for Leicester East told BBC Radio 5 live the equipment taken contained information relating "to the work I do as the chairman of the home affairs committee, which includes policing issues".

"I gather that whoever did this also took a laptop from another member of Parliament on the same floor, and since reporting it to the police I am informed this happens quite regularly on the Parliamentary estate."

Mr Vaz said his office building was "supposed to be secure" and the thief "must" have full security clearance to move around.

"If this happened to a constituent, I would call a residents' meeting - which I am happy to do - and get more CCTV cameras in the corridors.

"Oddly enough, I could only find one, in the car park... pretty astonishing for an iconic building like Parliament."

Mr Vaz said he was particularly concerned about the thefts given the visit by US President Barack Obama to Parliament next week.

"A great deal of effort is taken to protect the outside of building but we need a more robust approach to security inside the building," he said.

"We need to ensure the security of the building is not compromised."

A spokesman for Parliament said police were investigating "a number of reports of the theft of laptops across the Parliamentary estate".

According to details released in response to a Freedom of Information request, harassment, criminal damage, common assault and trespass have all been reported on the estate between 2008 and 2010.