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back to article Vigilantes R US: Private enterprise takes over

British netizens worried about the proximity of their nearest rapist, murderer or paedophile can sleep easier in their beds this week, safe in the knowledge that recently upgraded website the Rat Book, will tell all. On the other hand, those concerned about an imminent rise in local vigilantism may be a little uneasy that …

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Grenade

Who needs Government whenever they are Useless at Constructive Governance?

"In general, he identified two distinct issues for the organisers of the Rat Book, both results of it being a private, rather than state, initiative. "

Whenever state initiative are so very clearly incompetent and inadequate, the private sector will always lead the way. Get used to it.

Should there be any "hiccups", all one has to do is follow state practices and launch an inquiry and make a cynical statement professing profound regret blah, blah,blah.

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Jobs Horns

One for City bankers next?

'nuff said. Definitely 'nuff paid. Now need payback.

I thank you.

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Hmmm...

"It's a basic principle of civilised society that public protection is best served by an evidence-based approach led by law enforcement authorities whose activity is properly scrutinised and who can be held to account."

So when are we going to get such LEAs?

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"well-intentioned as they doubtless are"

There speaks a man fully conversant with English libel law.

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Silver badge

As far as I'm concerned

"You have the right to know about criminals living and operating in your area, and that through awareness, you can improve the safety of your family".

As far as I'm concerned, no you bloody well don't. The concept of rehabilitation has gone right out the window these days. If someone is no longer in jail, then they've served their punishment, end of, no questions, shut your face. It's a fundamental principle of our justice system, surely? I'll build my own bloody opinions of my neighbours, thanks - I don't need a bunch of Mail-reading fearmongers telling me who to be afraid of today.

As for me, my own history is thankfully squeaky clean (I was on the athletics team in high school, so a clean pair of heels was all you'd see. ;-) ).

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FAIL

Common Names

It is extra worrying that this site just lists a name and a county. I know I share my name with at least four other people in the city I live in (thankfully none of them have appeared on this website yet).

As to "only use legitimate sources".... apart from the copying random accusations from the local newspapers? I hope this lot get sued hard for libel. What a sick bunch of people behind this site... you can see the meeting now... "I know how to make lots of money, lets make a website listing paedos and murderers. Imagine all the advertising cash we can rake in from it"

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Not so

Click in to a given crim and it gives their street name.

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WTF?

Vague locations

@ Greg J Preece: Street names are not given in every case. Some of these articles are clearly just Google searches and then copies of news articles. So those which are just accusations in newspapers DON'T have the same full address as those people who have been genuinely tried and proven guilty of a crime.

There are many listed as just Name, County.

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Grenade

@Greg Preece

And what if someone else with the same name lives in that street? A few years ago I had a next door neighbour with the same name. Carphone Warehouse accused me of identity theft when buying a mobile phone despite the fact that I was using my own card and the house numbers on our addresses were different. They disabled the phone and I ended up returning it and buying another elsewhere.

The situation would be a whole lot worse if you were accused of being a sex offender when innocent.

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Silver badge

Hey, I never said it was good

I loathe the site and want to set fire to it. Just pointing out that you can get street names - which IMO is even worse.

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FAIL

So in other words he's afraid it might prompt ppl to follow the US approach?

"It's a basic principle of civilised society that public protection is best served by an evidence-based approach led by law enforcement authorities whose activity is properly scrutinised and who can be held to account."

Now compare to the States and Gitmo - They'd never hold anyone without evidence and they're very accountable and subject to constant oversight - Right?

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WTF?

Who's funding it?

So with all these full time people they have working on it who's paying the bills?

I can't actually look at the site for myself at the moment though as our corporate (local government) firewall is blocking it as "tasteless".

And it shouldn't be hard to find out where the severs are hosted surely?

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Who's funding it?

Who's paying local government slackers to be surfing unrelated sites on work computers? Twat. Can I have your job? As you can tell from the posting time I'm available, and I'm willing to actually work.

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Boffin

Say, Aren't You Guys Like, Geeks, or Something?

It took me all of one minute to find that the site's hosted in Spain.

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FAIL

Yes, we're geeks. Haven't you heard about the "Internet"?

Apparently it's possible to have a server located in one country, yet the company owning and operating it could be somewhere else! How exactly do your oh-so-achingly-leet tracert and whois lookup skills tell us anything about that, mister geek genius sir? The article said that we didn't know where Rat Book is *based*, not who its bleeding hosting service is.

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Trojan

My AV popped up with a Trojan in my internet cache when i went to that site.

Seems there is more to this than meets the eye!!!

Run it from abroad, catch lots of unsuspecting fearful people and grow a daily mail bot net!!!!

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Thumb Down

Suspicion = Guilt?

There's at least one case here where they've included someone who was released without charge:

http://www.theratbook.com/Articles/Article/more_arrests_in_terror_operation

I also noticed that they don't credit the source of the articles.

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WTF?

Unproven Accusations also listed

The article says: Rat Book is quick to reassure: "Criminals listed... are convicted in a UK court of law unless otherwise stated." Information is sourced "from media outlets across the UK, including local, regional and national news as well as court reports and police reports".

Which means any old unproven gossip from the local newspaper hacks gets included in this website. I have already spotted a name of a person I know in there who has not yet had his day in court to prove his innocence.

This is Trail by Media in the classic Daily Mail style.

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"Unproven Accusations also listed"

Of course nothing like this will happen.

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/england/lancashire/8405031.stm

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Stop

"they have a team working full time"

Translation, they've probably got a few people googling for words like "paedo" and "pervert" and no doubt getting dozens of hits off the websites of such esteemed organisations as The Sun and the News of the World (those well known researchers and verifiers of facts!)

Of course I'm sure that if someone is convicted, but then cleared on appeal, these people will immediately correct the data in their records and point out that someone has been exonerated of any wrong-doing...

... won't they...?

PS I had to laugh (cynically) when I read the ACPO's statement that "It's a basic principle of civilised society that public protection is best served by an evidence-based approach led by law enforcement authorities..."

Great idea, guys, why not try it? (See "I'm a photographer not a terrorist!" for just one example)

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To be fair to them

Thay are right, but unfortunatly work on do as I say not as I do.

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FAIL

Two minutes...

on the site and I found one chap - a local - listed with a "criminal profile" against his name and he was tagged "terrorist".

The man was found not guilty in September.

If I were him I'd sue.

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A few thoughts

From what we hear across the pond, crime rates (particularly rates of violent crime) in urban and semi-urban areas of Britain are achieving truly impressive levels of frequency amongst a population largely barred from any effective defense of their homes and persons against such depredations - routinely surpassing efforts of bad actors on our shores (at least those not currently elected to Congress) in daring, brutality, and frequency.

This is despite apparently vast depredations against subjects privacy (in terms of reported near-universal camera placement) to minimal good effect. Regrettably, it seems a universal that "monitoring" is much less useful to victims (and those proposed for the honor), than timely intervention by authorities, surrounding persons, or victims themselves, acting in rational self-defense against such offenses whilst still in progress - by preference, rather early...before the victim takes serious injury.

Considering the above, the eruption of various for-profit or NGO private efforts absent effective government action is less than utterly surprising - a symptom of under-funded, ill-trained, or politically emasculated (or some combination thereof) law enforcement, adjudicative, and correctional mechanisms.

I'm not heaping praise upon the site, but rather suggesting that it is a sign that both authorities and the more liberal/progressive citizenry awake to the notion that whatever they are currently doing about crime is working so badly that folks are starting to think in terms of extralegal action.

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Silver badge

What a load of tosh

"From what we hear across the pond, crime rates (particularly rates of violent crime) in urban and semi-urban areas of Britain are achieving truly impressive levels of frequency amongst a population largely barred from any effective defense of their homes and persons against such depredations - routinely surpassing efforts of bad actors on our shores (at least those not currently elected to Congress) in daring, brutality, and frequency."

Sunshine, that is complete bollocks. Total, complete, utter, mindless bollocks. The population of both our countries may enjoy wallowing in fear and waxing hysterical about the constantly accelerating downfall of society, but any logical analysis or - God forbid, evidence - will probably lead you to far different conclusions. Might I suggest that:

a) Fox News is not a reliable source of non-sensationalism, and that making other countries sound shittier than the US is a national pasttime.

b) Some crime rates over here pale into insignificance next to your own.

I was going to launch into a much larger rant against your cascade of uninformed speculation and smug pronouncements from on high, but I've better things to do, and Ms. Bee would never have published the outcome.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: A few thoughts

Some will believe the ends justify all means, and some will take to vigilantism regardless, just as some will resort to crime even after numerous convictions. But yes, it's not hard to surmise that if the politicos are seen as unwilling and the police as unable to protect the populace, then the citizenry will conclude it will have to bloody well do it themselves. Then there is the effect that the more people are monitored the more uneasy they'll feel, and for some that results in violence. Also: A large increase of violent crime was seen following the total and complete ban of anything even resembling a firearm. So, the more we are nannied, the more we seem to need nannying. OR, we could ditch the know-it-better-than-thou politicos and give at least some responsibility and matching powers back to citizens. Some of us did manage to grow up, after all.

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Anonymous Coward

lol

You evidently know fuck all about police powers (and abuse there of) in the UK.

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Big Brother

Re: What a load of tosh, Greg J Preece Posted Thursday 10th December 2009 23:08 GMT

Sunshine, that is complete bollocks. Total, complete, utter, mindless bollocks.

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FAIL

we aren't safer in the uk....

because all our "feral" kids survive school, unlike in the USA, where 3000 school kids are killed by guns every year.

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Silver badge

Couldn't help laughing

I got trolled by the comment bot! :-D

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I remember

Last time something like this happend there was rioting in the streets, burning cars and mothers screaming and swearing infront of 5 year old Britney's like rabid animals.

Street enterainment at its best.

If intrested just google "paulsgrove riots".

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Silver badge

@I remember...

... I don't need to google for it, I live just a few miles down the road from Paulsgrove and when the News of the Screws did their "let's try to boost circulation by putting up pictures of paedos" my friends who actually lived there were more terrified of the lynch mob roaming the streets than any putative threat to their childre ...

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WTF?

Odd

When you click on 'articles' the map that appears seems to have Maddy on her own listed as a category right in between sexual assaults & perverts .

Also, 'Disabilities' seems to be its own category. I didn't realise being in a wheel chair was a criminal offense these days.

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FAIL

@who needs

Well lets see, the government lists are very well protected, mainly because the solution providers, and the departments involved don't want the general public lynching someone who might turn out to be innocent at a later date, and really don't like the idea of the public taking matters into their own hands.

If this only gives a name and a county it really is dangerous because there have been instances of people being arrested, refused jobs, beaten up and driven from their homes because they have a name that's the same as an offender, and happen to live near by.

The other telling thing was that their source is the media, which is well known for blasting offenders across the front page, but not known for the same enthusiasm when they are later found innocent on appeal. So on hopes they have really done their due diligence on each and every offender, and gone through all the legal consequences.

Oh yes, and we have the concept of spent convictions, which means after a certain amount of time you no longer have a public criminal record, are these idiots taking account of that.

And whatever happened to redemption?

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Trojan

Dont know about the site, but it has just tried to download a 'trojan' when I followed the link

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Where is the site based?

er, not Spain, as far as I can tell.

We are geeky enough to do a simple look-up. That tracked to a spanish hosting service. I spoke to them yesterday and they e-mailed back to say ratbook is NOTHING to do with them.

So nice try, AC...but we do check as far as poss.

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Paris Hilton

...that they know of...

If the site's trying to upload trojans, then I'd say there's a 99% chance that the site's on a hacked server, and you guys are doing them a HUGE favor by driving up hits.

Well, you guys'd know better than I...

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Anonymous Coward

I propose the rat rat book...

... naming and shaming those who insist on spending far too much time chasing and publishing other people's names and addresses for perceived or actual wrongs.

Yes, some people do very bad things indeed, and it's the Queen's prerogative to do something about it, delegated to her Majesty's justice system. Vigilantism and stalking are also crimes, so the rat book would likely be liable for that, so it arguably should list itself and its perpetrators. List the "paedo hunter" people too, please.

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Ugh

Nasty site. Looking at my home town, the address of someone listed on the site as a 'pervert' can be narrowed down to a short sidestreet with maybe 8-10 houses in it. Not too hard for some knuckle dragging vigilante/s to narrow it down from there.

Also like others I spotted a couple of 'terrorists' who were acquitted or who are still awaiting trial.

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Badgers

Bless

They only have like 90 followers on Twitter.

In August it was succintly identified as "a gossip site like The Enquirer. Site like this is a popular spot for the hackers." over at computing.net. The reason it was mentioned at all is because it may have crashed a readers machine.

It is listed as "a holding space for real content" on aboutus - no point holding your breath for that to happen.

But why not just ask the guy who registered it via godaddy? He should know something about it right?

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Terminator

Ratbook.com proudly sponsored by the Daily Mail.

With (little) apologies to littlejohn*...............

what about their Yuman Rights? That is all.

*Actually I quite like the man. He is my favorite comedian.

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Stop

Stop it. That's our job!

A spokeswoman for ACPO added: "...There are well documented instances of unsubstantiated or malicious accusations, mistaken identity, or misunderstandings leading to the persecution of innocent people."

Yes, the police would have a lot of experience of that sort of thing I suppose. (Thinks Durham DNA sampling and UK wide photographers/terrorists.)

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godaddy

Another (virus laden?) site ran through a godaddy domain under DBP! Godaddy are quick to take down any domains offensive to MS or google but if you are an individual or small business forget it.

These days my mail systems run a whois check and if the domain was provided through godaddy I bounce em - this eliminates almost 70% of US spam from my home mail server (spamtrap).

Jacqui

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Anonymous Coward

Seems to be Filetube spam related

Site seems to be related to this filestube site, and he seems to be spamming Google to try to rank for pedo sex. e.g. this structured page

http://video.filestube.com/p/pedos+sex

Although I doubt he's really called Tom Franks from Derby, but you could also go look up the Electoral Roll in the library

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Bronze badge

no room for it

EITHER

(a) a jurisdiction believes that its punishment/treatment of criminals is sufficient and thus their names should remain private after said punishment/treatment has been served, since they are now safe to be released back into polite (such as it is) society;

XOR

(b) a jurisdiction needs to admit that their punishment/treatment of criminals is completely inadequate and revamp the system to MAKE it sufficient so that past offenders are in fact safe to be released in public;

XOR

(c) a jurisdiction needs to admit that they cannot adequately punish/treat criminals and therefore avoid releasing them. Ever. Admittedly, this didn't work in Australia's case, where the criminals are now the government.

In my books, there is no room (absolutely none) for a "name and shame" system being allowed in any jurisdiction. Nor (arguably) is there any room for "criminal records" for that matter. If the criminal is still criminal minded, they shouldn't have been released in the first place. If they are "better", then to forbid them from finding meaningful work by permanently marking them is to basically force them back to criminal ways in order to just be able to live. Might as well brand them with a big "C" for "Criminal" on the face if we continue to allow anyone to check "criminal records".

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Anonymous Coward

Riddled with Virii as one would expect..

...from such a scummy site... worth noting that not only is this site a fucking disgrace, it also appears to be riddled with malware/virii - well that's if you trust Sophos AV - as soon as I went on it got about 6 alerts (Fake-AV-BP, OBFJS-CM, PDFJs-ER).

Avoid like the plague!

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Anonymous Coward

Colin Stagg...

...Just one of the multitude of reasons why this site is a fucking pile of shit which needs taking down ASAP. Because the `reliable` sources they use aren't that fucking reliable either, are they...

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FAIL

Oh no!

Here we go again! Mobs of angry Sun readers descending on pediatrician's houses again!

"We is doin' it to protect the kiddies, innit! ( turns to 7 year old daughter with anti-pedo banner ) Jordan, gis that fackin' banner 'ere, I'll wallop yer one if you don't stop fackin' abat!"

Rebecca Wade, didn't have anything to do with fronting the cash for this website did she?

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Black Helicopters

Is this a BNP front?

It seems like a cleaned-up well-marketed well-presented version of their redwatch-spinoff site "noncewatch". Be interesting to note if there's any political bias in the distribution of the "false positives" that are no doubt going to start turning up "by accident".

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Anonymous Coward

Children Included

People under 18 are included on that site. There's a 14 year old girl listed, for breaking an ASBO relating to drink.

What happens when young offenders turn 18? Do they then get removed from this site?

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FAIL

punishment will never end, ever

I have a friend who went to prison for drug dealing, did her time "honorably" (i.e., did volunteer work, was a good "tenant", worked hard at her prison job, didn't cause problems), and has been clean, sober, and productive for the past ten years since. She can get her right to vote back, but she will never be able to get food stamps or some other forms of public assistance. So if she did not luck into a job upon release, she would have had to either beg for food or go back to the job she knew -- drug dealing -- in order to eat. Also, many apartment complexes subscribe to a "crime free multi- housing" program by which landlords screen potential tenants for criminal records and anyone with such a record can be denied housing by that landlord. I understand that landlords want to protect their tenants, but on the other hand if ex- offenders are more or less herded back to the places they lived before incarceration they will be more likely to fall into bad old habits and re- offend. I certainly don't expect criminal scum to be living large on the taxpayers' dime, and I agree that crims who show no desire to better themselves should be put somewhere far far away, but if we truly want ex-offenders to become productive members of society we don't seem to be giving them a sporting chance to do so.

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