To ask the Secretary of State for Defence
(1) at what point lost items of equipment are considered to have been stolen; and if he will make a statement;
(2) what criteria are used for determining whether lost items should be written off or considered a theft; and if he will make a statement.
It is the Ministry of Defence (MOD) policy that all losses of materiel are investigated and reported in accordance with the Defence Logistic Support Chain Manual. If stocktaking discrepancies are identified an independent reconciler initiates an investigation, the level of which is dependent on the value and stocktaking category of the item. It is during the investigation that the cause of the discrepancy will be identified and, in cases where criminal activity is suspected, the situation is to be reported to the MOD, service or civilian police as appropriate. Before approving any write-off the authorising officer must be clear about the nature of the case; the amount involved; and the circumstances in which the loss arose; and its causes, including any relevant information from police reports; and if there is any suspicion of theft, fraud, arson or sabotage. Before writing off expenditure, there must be clear evidence that all reasonable action has been taken to recover the loss and that no feasible alternative exists. All items lost as a result of theft are subsequently written-off.
In November 2012 Defence Equipment and Support began implementing the Inventory Strategic Plan to control inventory within the future Defence supply chain. This programme of work will drive the practice of high-quality inventory management throughout the Department that will deliver and maintain optimised inventory across Defence.