An employee at Birmingham’s Assay Office has been arrested after gold worth up to £100,000 was reported missing, it has been revealed.
The 55-year-old Birmingham woman was questioned by detectives from Steelhouse Lane police last month.
Bosses at the 236-year-old Assay Office which authenticates and hallmarks jewellery, have now carried a review of security.
The missing gold was understood to have been among regular consignments of jewellery sent to the Assay Office, in Newhall Street, to be examined.
It is estimated between £80,000 and £100,000 worth of gold had gone missing over a period of time, sources have claimed.
The Birmingham Assay Office, one of only four in the country, independently tests precious metals, such as gold, silver or platinum, and authenticates they are of the correct fineness stated.
Every year it hallmarks more than 12 million items.
Detectives from West Midlands Police were called in when concerns were raised over a number of missing items.
The woman, thought to be a supervisor, was arrested on August 16 following an investigation into “allegations of irregularities” at the Assay Office.
She was questioned and later released on bail pending further inquiries.
The Assay Office’s Marketing director Marion Wilson declined to say whether the woman had been suspended.
“There has been a loss of gold and the police are investigating, but pending the outcome of that investigation I cannot give any more details,” she added.
“We are taking it extremely seriously. There has clearly been an internal review and all of our procedures have been reviewed.”
A West Midlands Police spokesman said: “A 55-year-old woman from Birmingham was arrested on suspicion of theft on August 16 following an investigation carried out by Birmingham West and Central police into allegations of irregularities at the Assay Office.
“The woman was bailed pending further inquiries which are ongoing.”
The UK is one of a few countries in the world that have compulsory legal statutory hallmarking to protect consumers.
Every item sold as gold, silver or platinum must be certified by the Assay Office. It is then stamped with a hallmark to guarantee it’s true content.
The Birmingham Assay Office first opened in 1773 under an Act of Parliament when one of the city’s pioneers Matthew Boulton campaigned for one to help the city’s burgeoning jewellery trade.
Despite being landlocked, the Birmingham hallmark is an anchor.
It is thought that Boulton chose the symbol while staying in the Crown & Anchor Tavern, in the Strand, as he lobbied for the Assay Office.