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back to article Plastic plod used police database to find dates

A female community support officer has pleaded guilty to 11 charges of obtaining personal information illegally after admitting using the Police National Computer to check out potential boyfriends. Lucy Bevan, 25, of Longbenton, was fined £1,100 for the offences. She has since resigned from the police force. Magistrates heard …

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Resign?

She had to resign? Is that not an instant dismissal offence as far as the police are concerned?

And why the hell do CSPO's have unsupervised access to the PNC anyway?

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Grenade

Really?

Highly inconvenient, I know, but I suspect the police have to jump through the hoops of someone actually being found guilty before dismissing them. Or we could have the police dispensing arbitrary instant justice, but I've read the comics and I'm not convinced that one ends well.

Hopefully she would have been sacked now she's been found guilty in court, but happily she resigned first so that wasn't necessary.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: PCSOs

"And why the hell do CSPO's have unsupervised access to the PNC anyway?"

because for all intents and purposes, a PCSO is a full PC that costs them pennies to run. It doesn't matter what they're officially created for or what their powers are on paper, the fact is that those who run the police want cheap labour, and PCSOs are it.

And if these are the powers they're officially given, imagine what they get up to unofficially as proper PCs don't have the time to help the PCSOs, so just let them access computers, rooms and whatever else in order to let them get on with their jobs.

Premeditated acts tend to get harsher punishments. I think someone who has set them selves up as a guardian of justice lording over the common man who then uses those powers for things like this should be treated much more harshly.

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She had to resign?

I'm sure she was given the choice of resign or get fired. I looks better on the stats then fired with cause as anyone just looking at the numbers can't tell the people who just left on their own form the ones who were pushed. And it's better for her if she can say she left her last job on her own, then if she has to say she was fired.

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Anonymous Coward

but remember

Only authorised people are allowed to look at your confidential on <insert govnolocalservicedatabase> they will never abuse this information. Said <insertgovnolocalserviceroboprdroid> so you have nothing to worry about.

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Pint

But....

...we were assured they wouldn't do this sort of thing?! I am truly shocked!

( sarcasm off )

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Paris Hilton

Damned if you do, damned if you don't

On the other hand, if she had unknowingly consorted with a ne'er-do-well, they probably would've fired her for that too.

What's a girl to do, eh?

Paris, coz she didn't do due diligence that one time.

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WTF?

Why the...

Why did she even have access to it at all, supervised or otherwise. She was a CSPO not an actual police officer. Any information she needed she should have gotten by making a request to an actual officer.

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FAIL

"For a police officer of some standing"

PCSO != police officer

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Stop

Am I missing something?

PCSO = POLICE community support OFFICER

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FAIL

Yes you are.

She was a Community Support Officer and not a Police Officer. They are different jobs with different powers and responsibilities.

They just put the word "Police" in front of CSO in the hopes that people will do what you did and conflate the two.

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yes, but---

I don't even live in the UK, but I know enough even I know that PCSOs aren't real cops. You can tell from the name.

Little more than a uniformed security guard; one step above a mall cop perhaps?

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Anonymous Coward

@yes but

A uniformed security guard with access to confidential personal information held by the police.

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illegal and unauthorized

A uniformed security guard with illegal and unauthorized access to confidential personal information held by the police.

FTFY

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Stop

@Am I missing something?`

Yes, you're missing the fact that a Police Officers have powers that PCSOs do not.

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FAIL

Sir

"found she'd looked at his file 151 times"

Massive fail if their system won't flag suspicious behaviour in the logs. It's almost as if the coppers that use the system are 100% above suspicion.

Actually, I'm surprised they even had logs to check.

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Heart

Hmmm

She's free to check out my file anytime!

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Stop

You sure about that?

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1326619/Female-PCSO-trawled-police-records-check-potential-lovers.html

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WTF?

Er, anyone missing the point

She was found because:

Senior officers became suspicious about Bevan's relationship with a man working in a shop in her patrol area.

TRWTF is that is how she was caught, not that because she had accessed a record 151 times without the individual being connected to any case she was working on, internal audits were triggered.

I mean, it's just fluke that this database misuse was discovered. How many are going under the radar because the perp isn't banging someone on their patrol route and they need a reason to sack them.

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Suspicious? Why?

I'm wondering why they were 'suspicious' of an adult female PCSO having any kind of relationship with a local adult man (assuming he's not under suspicion of criminality himself).

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FAIL

Facebook & MySpace not enough?

'nuff said

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quiet cheap!

Only £100 per person eh? Sounds like a bargin.

I kind of assumed the plods had someone who would act as a proxy and say if their date was legit or not. The other services certaily do.

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Heart

29 dimensions of compatibility

I think the police just found the solution to their budgeting problems - eLarceny.

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Coat

And that is why ...

You don't put it all on one big database.

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Pirate

11 Charges

Any note on what she was charged with? Only one offence is mentioned here, albeit 151 counts thereof, but that doesn't equal 11 either, nor is it clear whether she was found guilty on all counts...

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FAIL

Never a copper

When will people get it into their heads PCSO's are not Police Officers - they are the former governments answer to fighting crime - a bunch of Police Wannabees who usually didn't (and will probably never have) the correct abilities to be a regular officer. Mind you, as she has resigned it will save Northumbria sacking her, and the rest of her PCSO colleagues when the axe swings under the spending review !

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Re: Never a coppper

Technically no. But if one stopped you, you refused to cooperate and walked away what do you think the charge would be?

Probably, obstrucing a police officer at the very least.

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But....

... that doesn't mean the charge would stick. OK, it might need to go all the way to the Supreme Court (ex-House of Lords), but it is still possible a well-argued case would win.

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Big Brother

One rule for one...

"Northumbria Police apologised and said they hoped the prosecution would reassure people that they took such complaints seriously"

Oh... so what happened to the "if you've nothing to hide, you've nothing to fear" argument?

Either that mantra proves this conviction is wrong, or this conviction proves that mantra is wrong.

I know which way round I think it is...

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Ditto on the previous comments

"P"CS"O"s are neither Police, nor Officers. They are not sworn constables, have no warrant card, and just like any other civvie employee are free to strike - which they will, sooner or later.

In short, they are members of the public wearing a costume, and you should treat them with exactly the same respect as TV license inspectors and traffic wardens:

http://nutsville.com/?p=2082

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Perv scanners

She should have waited until the new airport scanners are linked into the great police database - then she could have really 'checked out' prospective boyfriends.

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@Really

No they don't have to wait for a conviction to fire them - you just make unauthorized use of the PNC a sackable offence.

It's a sackable offence for me to enter some parts of this site without authorisation and the correct safety gear - doesn't mean they are dispensing instant justice.

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Paris Hilton

PCSOs?

Only have the power to make a civilian (?) arrest. Which always wants me to run up behind a pair and yoink one of there hats. Then see if they can keep up...

If you walk away from a PCSO they can attempt to detain you, but it's only a problem if you fail to get away. Reasonable force and all...

Paris: She could use "reasonable force" anytime with me.

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WTF?

151 times??

She took some convincing then! I'd be afraid if I were her boyfriend...

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Coat

PlodBook or MyCoppa

Or perhaps call it Crimville ???

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"Or we could have the police dispensing arbitrary instant justice"

Never heard of FPN's then ?

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Anonymous Coward

PNC records for sale

The worrying part of this is that access to the database by individual officers is not proactively monitored. All access should require the user to input a "reason code", the system should flag unusual levels of access by an individual (it's hard to think of a good reason an officer would need to access the same individual's record 151 times). I guess there must be other profiles of activity that would indicate possible abuse. And a random spot check approx once a year wouldn't impose too much of an overhead. When I worked as a bank cashier in my youth, our cash box was our own responsibility and we were trusted to keep it in order but nevertheless the manager was required to make random spot checks, when I moved into IT I found similar concepts applied to ensuring the integrity of programmers and operators of the banking suite. Continual monotoring is resource intensive, builds distrust or gets sloppy, "trust but occasional spot check" is effective.

I guess this means the PCSO's can readily supplement their meagre income by undertaking database lookups on behalf of paying customers. I find that a much more worrying concern than an officer checking that their date doesn't have any guilty secrets - indeed I'd rather see an official channel for them to have such checks made than to see an officer getting into a relationship with someone who may be primarily interested in dating the officer to exploit their police status for criminal advantage.

I'm also surprised that the system seems to have provided background information such as property they owned, the cars they drove. I had assumed one has to have a criminal record in the first place to feature on the PNC but even then while residential (and workplace?) address(es) may be valid, are property _ownership_ details pertinent?

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Stop

She isn't the only one, and niether are the police.

Checking up on a potential boyfriend 151 times indicates a degree of insecurity, most do it only once, and then have a friend do it on the QT.

Really, if you were a Police Officer, Revenue Inspector, Customs Officer, or indeed any other person who has the ability to check on another person you are about in embark on a relationship with, then you would check them out, especially as having a relationship with a criminal, would finish your career anyway, if it came to light.

I will bet the first question an enquiry would ask if a serving Police Officer of such was compromised by a relationship would be, why didn't anyone check.

If you date a Police Officer, Revenue Inspector, or such, you will most likely have your personal details checked, either directly, or indirectly, and if you are a bad lot, the officer will be informed that continuing the relationship will affect their career. This by the way also applies to the employees of private government contractors in certain areas, the difference being, I they have it done for them.

I personally have no problem with this, as I would not want to find out I was dating a known criminal, or an illegal, and thus loose my job.

I suspect that in reality the Police and others have no problem checking out a prospective partner, just so long as it's reasonable and you don't publicise the fact.

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Alert

I call them

NAPC's. Not A Proper Copper. I permit El Reg to use this in future, should the need arise.

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