Local government employees were up in arms last night at news that a laptop containing bank and National Insurance details had been stolen.

16,000 Worcestershire County Council staff were exposed to the risk of identity fraud after the laptop was stolen from an employee of the council's IT supplier Serco in a street robbery over the weekend. The laptop contained the sensitive personal data of 16,239 employees and ex-employees of the local authority.

Staff were alerted by letter by the council, who has also opened a helpline for concerned staff on how to protect themselves from risk of fraud as a result of the exposure.

Staff have told local newspapers that they are “livid’’ that a sub-contracted employee should be given authorisation to carry such sensitive data around on a portable device.