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Over 130 UK public servants have lost their jobs due to breaches of IT policy over the last three years, government figures show.

The Guardian used a Freedom of Information (FOI) request to get the figures, which showed some 1,700 civil servants have been disciplined or lost their jobs for misuse of email or internet access in the last three years.

The FOI request revealed that the Ministry of Justice has sacked 30 people for breaking IT policy. The Met police has disciplined 187 staff, and Hertfordshire police formally warned 25 people for forwarding offensive video clips.

In total, 1,722 public employees were disciplined for email or internet offences. Of these, 132 were sacked, 41 resigned, and 868 got formal warnings, while 686 got some other kind of punishment. The figures cover 65 government institutions and police forces over the last three years.

The Trades Union Congress (TUC) told the paper that some employers were struggling to keep up with technology changes. A spokesman said: "Social networking at work is a recent problem and it's growing at a phenomenal rate. But employers are often not setting a standard as to what level of internet use is acceptable."

UK unions have called for clearer guidelines on email and use of social websites as the number of disputes continues to increase.

More from The Guardian here. ®

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