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back to article More privacy for the Queen, less for everyone else

The coalition government has detailed the changes it wishes to make to the Freedom of Information Act - reducing the 30-year rule and increasing the number of bodies which must obey the law. Secretary of State for Justice Kenneth Clarke told the House the Freedom of Information Act would be extended to include the Association of …

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"...the government would consult with other bodies on their inclusion..."

???

As someone said, when you're planning to drain a swamp, you don't consult the frogs.

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So the NHS Confidential...

...isn't going to be?

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Happy

Anything that adds oversight to the ACPO

Can only be a good thing. The fact that what essentially amounts to the highest 'governing' level of the country's police forces has little oversight or regulation should be a cause of concern for all.

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Big Brother

ACPO: Is it legal?

Can a private limited company set up by public servants to give themselves legal advice and then act on it, and which sells for profit Sensitive Personal Data harvested from arrests made by its vested-interest shareholders, possibly be legal? Whatever happened to the concept of conflict of interests?

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Also Include...

Pretty much any organisation that receives significant government money. They should be required to account for how they spend it if asked, and if the sole purpose of an organisation is to do government work then it should be fully covered.

If you don't want the details of your contracts with the government (who are our representatives even if they act more like our masters) to be made public then don't bid for them.

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What you realy need

is to ban the use of commercial confidentiality clauses in all winning bids for government contracts.

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WTF?

Good Heavens!

A government increasing the power of public scrutiny?! Whatever next!?

I, for one, however, look forward to issuing FOIA requests to the ACPO.

I doubt they will enjoy it as much as I do.

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Stop

Ye Gods

Please, please do not treat FOIA requests as a means of getting back at organisations with which you have a beef. By all means do so if you have some pressing need for information, but if - as you're comment suggests - you're looking forward to enjoying mere act of issuing FOIA requests, rather than the information you'd get, then don't. It's the equivalent of a prank call, only gives fiefdoms like ACPO good backing for complaints about FOIA request, and it gums up the whole FOIA apparatus, slowing things down for people who really need information. Don't be an idiot.

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It has nothing to do with having a beef...

Rather, it is something to do with the fact that ACPO is a limited company with NO government oversight, yet sets policy for police forces across the country. As such, ACPO HAS to have government oversight, including FOI requests, and considering several controversial decisions made by ACPO, they should expect to be grilled extensively.

Remember, the police forces are here to SERVE and PROTECT us, NOT endanger us or continue to treat us like scum.

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Coat

but

you are scum though.

what ho.

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FAIL

Okay, all true but...

You are far more likely to hinder than you are to aid the oversight of ACPO through the FOIA by making spurious requests. Thanks to ACPO's behaviour there will be many, many people waiting to make legitimate requests that will hold them accountable; by treating the act of requesting as your means to oversight, rather than the information you're seeking, you are only going to cause problems, both for those with real requests to make and for those who want to stop ACPO from being able to excuse itself from the FOIA. In other words, you' d have done something idiotic. The FOIA is not found between your legs, ergo it is not your personal dimly lit bedroom plaything.

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"Serve and protect"?

Wow! Do the police forces in the UK still believe that? Across the States, the "To Serve and Protect" mottos got painted out decades ago; and the police now identify themselves as "Law Enforcement", rather than a "Public Service" organisation like the Fire Department.

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My only question is ...

Who the fuck gives a rat's ass what the "royal" family has to say about ... err ... anything? Not a one of 'em has done anything useful in several centuries, near as I can tell ... Making laws to "further protect their communications" does nothing more than add another layer of bullshit between "royal" and "commoner".

I honestly think governments world-wide are pushing for a return to the middle-ages ...

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MGJ

Errrm, we are not the US

Given your use of the phrase 'rat's ass', I'm guessing you are from the other side of the pond. The Queen is our head of state, a role which has several remaining powers attached to it, not least the power to invite someone to form a government, or agree to dissolve parliament. In her other job, as head of the commonwealth (where she is head of state for a number of other countries) she may have advice and guidance to offer to her government of the day.

It might not be perfect, but its the UK system.

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Anonymous Coward

Also

it is one (major) part of the total bullshit effort to retain the status quo that looked briefly consigned to the dustbin of history it belongs in after the English Civil War. And there are many social facilitation experiments that shed light on those who still, in the 21st Century, defend it.

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Boffin

In that case...

I'm trying to work out if it's malfeasance or misfeasance she's guilty of by not dissolving a few obvously corrupt Governments working on her behalf.

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We don't need no stinkin' monarchy

Well I'm a Brit and I say we need to get rid of the costly monarchy and replace with a president.

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Paris Hilton

Please clarify for us Yanks

Disclosure: Yes, I am from the US. I ask these not to troll, but actual curiosity.

> The Queen is our head of state, a role which has several remaining powers attached to it

From what I can tell (Admittedly a brief search), most of those powers are almost figurehead in nature. For example, save for a few hung parliaments, appointing the PM has been predetermined by the election of seats in the House of Commons, outside the Queen's actions.

On this side of the pond, most news we get about the UK government mentions the PM or Parliament, not the Queen. And most news we get about the royal family is along the lines of drama such as the royal wedding or Fergie in a Dr. Pepper advert.

Now, I'd much rather the royal family than Paris Hilton or Linsey Lohan, who appear to fill the role of drama news for drama's sake. But what sort of decisions, speeches, or proclamations that have originated from the Queen have recently and significantly affected Britain or its relationship with other governments?

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Please clarify for us Yanks

The Queen may officially act mainly as a figurehead, but in reality her experience of numerous governments, both UK and Commonwealth, over the decades makes her advice invaluable, and is respected by all sensible politicians.

No, you don't hear much about that, as she prefers to work behind the scenes, for example with a weekly private meeting with the Prime Minister. She doesn't do soundbite-politics or aim for lots of coverage in the media, but works in the best interests of the country as a whole.

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!!!!SHOCK!!!!

... Fergie appeared in a Dr Pepper Ad? ! ??....Who bue-pencilled THAT bit of news!

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We don't need no stinkin' monarchy → #

Exactly. The British Royals and their "establishment" chums who wrongly think this country owes them a life of privilege and lording it in the Manor House should be consigned to dustbin of history alongside stuffed Dodo's and other museum curiosities of a byegone era.

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Anonymous Coward

... and we don't need no stinkin' president

The only reason to have a president is if you want the president to have power as in the USA or French. Replacing a figurehead with a figurehead is a waste of time and money.

Dump the aristos, change the Lord title to "MotHoL" and you're done. Two elected Houses just means more wasted time and money.

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MJI
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WTF?

President?

However where would they come from?

Do we have President Blair, Brown, Harperson, Wogan, Forsyth, Branson, or AntandDec?

I am now having nightmares.

I bet if he stood WIlliam Wales would win!

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Re: !!!!SHOCK!!!!

"... Fergie appeared in a Dr Pepper Ad? ! ??....Who bue-pencilled THAT bit of news!"

I imagine she did.

She isn't (any longer) part of the Royal Family. Not sure why she should be expected to get permission from her ex mother-in-law!

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Anonymous Coward

She's a dam sight cheaper

More respected, and works more for our good (rather than tabloid whim) than any president.

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Title

So it becomes harder for the tabloids to get info on the royals, and ACPO has to respond to FOI requests.

I fail to see the down side here.

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Go

"include the Association of Chief Police Officers"

And about time too!

Although I can see that going down like a lead balloon at the next Freemason's Dinner...

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Explicitly ACPO, or implicitly ACPO

If the Act names "ACPO" there is presumably nothing to stop the members of ACPO setting up AHPO (Association of Head Police Officers) and shunting any business they don't want made public to the new body.

A more widely defined phrasing, containing "including, but not limited to ACPO" would help to avoid shenanigans.

I am in favour of more oversight of ACPO, but that isn't a controversial opinion here.

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Mixed bag

The inclusion of ACPO is welcome (and long overdue), but why on earth are Network Rail still exempt?

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title title title etc etc

Good news indeed - it looks like the ACPO are at long last being brought to heel.

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don't believe it

yeah, and they'll keep their word will they? just like all the other promises they've made right?

a politicians directive is simply: do whatever we (gvt) want regardless of any 'common public' opinion. but be sure to tell the people what they want to hear regardless of if there is any truth in it.

.. besides lies from politicians is exactly what the public is expecting, and has become the accepted normal these days. i am, as always, totally disgusted by this.

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Anonymous Coward

A canadian

As a Canadian, I've been a supporter of the Queen and the limited monarchy for most of my life.

Recently, I had a change of heart, when the Queen passes on, it will be time for us to break our ties (aka cut the purse strings).

The Queen's interactions with members of government should not have a greater degree of protection than the protections given to other member of the government. She is the leader of a free nation not some sort of third world tyrant.

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From Baja Canada

True, she is the leader of a free nation, and chief of state of several more. But she has been around long enough to demonstrate a mean streak, if she had one (like QE1). And she's not likely insane, like George III became, after we parted company. I guess what I'm trying to say is that calls for transparency in governance are no substitute for the peace of mind which comes from knowing those calls can be made another day. Enjoy it while it lasts.

Excuse me while I reinforce the shallow American stereotype ...

To the Brit who wants a President: Are you nuts ? You do realize they have all been grumpy old men, right ? Not much to look at, right ? No chance of Eye Candy, none at all. Be careful what you wish for. You especially. Please.

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Exemption for the Queen

"The exemption will last for 20 rather than 30 years, or the lifetime of the person plus five years."

So presumably we still won't see the cabinet papers about the Profumo affair until 5. years after a certain gentleman snuffs it.

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Charles -- Heir to the British Throne?

God Save the Queen!

May she enjoy a very long life (as long as UK taxpayers are filling the bill and not us in the republican colonies) -- at least until William (or Harry or whomever) reaches the age of ascension, or whatever y'all call it.

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ACPO - so what

Officially published ACPO advice to government or police offices will now be available under FoI.

Quiet words had with the chief constable or home secretaries at lodge meetings won't.

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Another for the list...

They should add the privatised utilities - gas and electricity companies, for starters. They have huge repositories of documents and data, all paid for by us and assembled over decades when they were in public ownership, all now inaccessible now they're privatised.

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Boffin

Another Canadian

To the American:

Same system in Canada as the UK, but here the Throne's powers are held by the Governor General. A year or two ago our GG made a poor decision allowing our PM to prorogue (suspend and end) our session of Parliament. Our dictator (Harper) was able to govern for a time without any parliamentary oversight. The Throne's powers are not inconsequential; he or she can allow or deny actions like this and can also ask another party or coalition of parties (the issue at the time) to form a government.

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Flame

Re the ACPO

Here in Canada we have had numerous incidents of police abusing or killing citizens and in nearly all cases these have been investigated by other police forces with recommendations of no charges. Police forces need more oversight and greater accountability. Opening the door on your ACPO is a good thing.

As an aside, when a logger or a construction worker is killed, do his mates hold a giant parade? Do others in that trade from across the continent send members to march in it? Just asking.

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@Another Canadian

But without the Queen, either President Harper (shudder) would have simply prorogued parliament himself, or if you have the German system an unknown civil servant figure-head President would have done it for him.

You can't win, the governor general of Oz called a new election because half the government were in jail and the other half were heading there. This lead to lots of complaints about the queen interfering.

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It's called a strike

When a logger is killed because the company is negligent the industry does stand up an say something. That's when they all go on strike.

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ACPO - a law unto itself

ACPO needs more than a little bit of window dressing. Any policy decisions should be made by the elected government and not by an incestuous arrangement of the governed setting their own rules.

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Big Brother

ACPO? Simples:

Abolish it.

Those of its functions which are necessary should be exercised by a national association of police authorities ~ once these have been cleaned up by making their membership directly elected rather than appointed.

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Great Stuff!

For me some of the best bits were the adding of University and Colleges Admissions Service (UCAS) and consulting with other bodies on the inclusion of Examination Boards and the NHS Confederation.

Now those are some areas where transparency could be improved - no more cover ups of teachers/examiners/health authorities/surgeons having a bad day that affects the life chances or indeed lives of so many

(Phew, at first I actually mis-read this to be a reduction of powers)

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Secrecy

Time to get many things published as a matter of course.

Minutes of council meetings would be a good example.

There are far too many things kept secret, freedom of information is a bonus but you have to know what to ask.

I'd also love to know what to do when requests are ignored - one of mine was recently - the local 'safety camera partnership' decided on several days to put a camera van in a very dangerous position on a major 3 carriageway road (just round a bend where it was obviously a danger as it slowed to park or left the scene) while at the same time ignoring the place where several school kids were injured in a series of accidents from speeding in a 30mph zone. When asked for the accident statistics for the road they chose to monitor I got several rude responses but no data - probably becuase there had been no accidents at that location since the road opened 20 odd years ago.

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