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back to article CPS grovels after leaking IDs of hundreds arrested during student riots

A botched response to a Freedom Of Information Act request could be about to cost the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) dear. Prosecutors have issued grovelling apologies after revealing the identities of over a hundred people who were arrested during the tuition-fee riots but subsequently released without charge. Back in June, a …

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FAIL

Great

It dosn't matter how dearly the screwup costs the CPS - the fine ultimately comes out of taxpayers pockets.

Will anyone be accountable? Doubt it...

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Great

Yes, from the report here looks like a potentially serious mistake was made and names etc were sent to the FOI requester - but they would appear to have informed the CPS of the problem which stopped the full publication of the response. So assuming the requester has acted responsibly and not passed on the info further then there is little actual harm.

However, I assume various lawyers will already be filing damages claims against the CPS and be preparing suitably large costs statements for reimbursement.

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Re: Great

Nothing for the ambulance chasers... I mean lawyers, here.

They would have to prove the individual has suffered actual damage (financial/mental etc) AND distress to make a claim.

Hard to see how they could unless the information was distributed more widely than reported.

That said still a monumental SNAFU, first rule of FOI responding ALWAYS double check the content of your response before sending (and yes that is my job but not for the CPS!!)

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Re: Great

".... the fine ultimately comes out of taxpayers pockets."

How? All that happened is that money would be taken from funds given to the CPS by the government and given back to said government. The tax payer loses nothing.

I agree with the unaccountability bit though.

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Re: Great...Will anyone be accountable? Doubt it...

One method to insure that this does not happen again is to punish the individuals responsible.

I suggest that they be stripped naked, and publicly flogged once a day for 30 days in the town square.

You need to make an example of these fools.

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Anonymous Coward

I'm sorry officer..

I can't give you my name, the CPS will only leak it...

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FAIL

Lessons will be learnt

The primary one being that if you work for the CPS or police then you can do what you want and fuck all will happen to you.

In reality the person who sent the information should be dismissed, his/her line manager should be dismissed and the FOIA/DP Manager should also be dismissed. And all with no compensation or inflated pension pot.

Only then will halfwitted organisations like the CPS start to behave, when they see the consequence is more than just shifting taxpayers money from one government department to another.

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Re: Lessons will be learnt

If people are found at fault, then, yes, they should face sanctions. And it should go all the way up the management chain to make them golfers take it seriously. However if you fire people, then they might indeed learn the lesson but the CPS won't reap the benefit. A first time offence should only merit a fine or a suspension; sacking is a last resort for serial offenders. And if the DP manager has put in place all the necessary safeguards and tried to inculcate good practice, then they shouldn't be punished; the poor sod is probably pulling their hair out as it is.

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Re: Lessons will be learnt

I do like your thinking, but only after punishing them as I mentioned above (public flogging).

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Unhappy

Demonstrations or Riots

Who decided to call the "of demonstrations by students against tuition fees" riots?

If this is not Ms Ozimek's own right-wing prejudice she should have provided an attribution.

Could the Reg make a FOI request to let us know the outcome of the "review of this incident and the systems and controls"?

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Demonstrations or Riots

I don't think there was a big meeting where it was decided they should be called riots. I think the principal moment in this 'riot labelling process' was when, y'know, they started rioting, invading and vandalising Millbank, throwing stuff off the roof at police. The usual rioting stuff.

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Black Helicopters

Re: Demonstrations or Riots

As you are probably aware, not every word used in a final edit is as a journalist submits them. Stories are rarely run unedited. My opinion is to be found in blogging i do and comment pieces.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Demonstrations or Riots

Public Order Act 1986. Section 1, Subsection 1 (that is, the very first clause in the act) states:

Where 12 or more persons who are present together use or threaten unlawful violence for a common purpose and the conduct of them (taken together) is such as would cause a person of reasonable firmness present at the scene to fear for his personal safety, each of the persons using unlawful violence for the common purpose is guilty of riot.

Having seen what was happening in the news I think it more than adequately fulfils this definition.

So the answer to your question is that the legal system decided to call it riot.

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Re: Demonstrations or Riots -- AC 09:25 GMT

Thanks for the clarification. I had been under the impression that English riots became such when a magistrate declared them to be so. I was then confused by the use of "riots" in the first paragraph and "demonstration" subsequently.

My apologies to Jane Fae for the unwarranted slight. (You might reconsider the colour scheme and layout of your blog. The lack of contrast between text and background defeats my eyesight.)

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Happy

Re: Demonstrations or Riots -- AC 09:25 GMT

It is indeed due a massive upgrade...and i have been told off for that before. The colour scheme, that is. But its RESTFUL! :)

You can say you read it here first, but the blog as was - a detailed personal journey interlaced with a bit of politics and a touch of feminism - is pretty much retired. Coming soon is going to be something rather more like a news site focusing on the law, IT and sex and sexuality.:)

Jane

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Demonstrations or Riots -- AC 09:25 GMT

> English riots became such when a magistrate declared them to be so.

That used to be true and they would be read the riot act and be given a hour to disperse:

"Our sovereign Lord the King chargeth and commandeth all persons, being assembled, immediately to disperse themselves, and peaceably to depart to their habitations, or to their lawful business, upon the pains contained in the act made in the first year of King George, for preventing tumults and riotous assemblies. God save the King."

That bit of legislation was in force up to 1973 when it was repealed.

Eventually it was replaced by The Public Order Act which abolished the following offences:

Common law offences of riot, rout, unlawful assembly and affray.

Tumultuous Petitioning Act 1661.

Shipping Offences Act 1793 section 1 (interfering with a vessel by rioting).

Seditious Meetings Act 1817 section 23 (prohibition of certain meetings within one mile of Westminster Hall when Parliament sitting)

Public Order Act 1936 section 5 (conduct conducive to breach of the peace).

It then introduced the new offences of:

Riot (12 or more persons).

Violent Disorder (3 or more persons).

Affray.

Fear or provocation of violence.

Intentional harassment, alarm or distress.

Harassment, alarm or distress.

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Re: Demonstrations or Riots -- AC 08:51 GMT

" they started rioting, invading and vandalising Millbank, throwing stuff off the roof at police. The usual rioting stuff"

My new understanding is that the "invading" and "vandalising" is not now legally rioting in itself; but that causing someone to reasonably fear for their safety could be.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Demonstrations or Riots -- AC 09:25 GMT

"Coming soon is going to be something rather more like a news site focusing on the law, IT and sex and sexuality."

Well that covers most bases - apart from X-Factor. :-)

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Demonstrations or Riots -- AC 09:25 GMT

"Intentional harassment, alarm or distress.

Harassment, alarm or distress."

Interesting that it appears to be another example where the legal threshold of having to prove "intent" has been watered down to make a "Martini Law" - "anyone, anytime, anyplace".

Does any "victim" also have the nebulous quality of being a hypothetical person who "might" have felt harassed, alarmed, or distressed if they had been there?

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Re: " ... a news site focusing on the law, IT and sex and sexuality."

That sounds like a cake made from mud, iron filings, flour and butter.

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Headmaster

Re: Demonstrations or Riots -- AC 08:51 GMT

What a 'riot' is under the law is irrelevant here, unless you are charging someone with a crime. Here, the word used was 'riot', and here is the context:

a hundred people who were arrested during the tuition-fee riots

We are not being asked to judge whether the people where rioters, only if a riot was taking place. Thus, we are not bound by legal definitions of a riot, and are simply bound by the meaning of the word riot - which does not reference any laws or statutes.

A wiktionary definition, which is all I can be arsed to look up, says Wanton or unrestrained behavior; uproar; tumult.. As an observer of the scenes in question, I would personally qualify what has happened as a riot.

The legal definition of a riot is only pertinent if you intend to take action under the law (reading the riot act, so to speak).

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Demonstrations or Riots -- AC 09:25 GMT

> Interesting that it appears to be another example where the legal threshold of having to prove "intent" has been watered down to make a "Martini Law"

With the "Intentional harassment, alarm or distress" you can be arrested immediately.

With "harassment, alarm or distress" the police have to tell you you are causing harassment alarm or distress and they can only arrest you if you continue.

So if you are just generally making a nuisance of yourself, but with no particular target then you get the warning followed by arrest, but if you are targeting an individual or group then it can be an immediate arrest.

The harassment, alarm and distress also includes writing, sign or other visible representation.

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Actually

"This all shows how the policing of protest is increasingly out of control."

It may be, but this actually shows the poor procedures and poor quality of management at the CPS.

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Thumb Up

Re: Actually

Damn, you beat me to it.

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WTF?

Shurely shome mishtake?

"...The CPS provided the names of some 116 individuals who have not been charged; names of those charged but then acquitted; and the names of 44 individuals aged under 18 - whose details would not have been revealed regardless of outcome. Also recorded are details of defending solicitors, plus some personal observations, including comment on individual medical issues.

In the normal course of an FOIA request, all this information would in due course have been published automatically...."

You have got to be kidding!!! Maybe if an individual asked for the information held on themself, then specific information about that person might be released to that person - although it wouldn't surprise me if there was some exemption in the Data Protection Act to let the CPS off the hook.

But "all this information would in due course have been published automatically"? Details of people not charged, acquitted, "personal observations", and "comment on medical issues"??? No way does that get published - if by published you mean released en masse into the public domain.

Or have I missed some radical overturning of privacy legislation?

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Re: Shurely shome mishtake?

No. No mistake. Well, not quite. I'll explain that in a mo.

The basic mistake was releasing as part of an FOI request material that ought NOT to have been released in the first place. They do not regularly release details of people's personal stuff...at least, i would hope not, and expect a mega inquiry if they did.

The presumption is that what they release as FOI is OK to release. Within that paradigm, there is no prob in them then releasing the FOI output to the public later on.

However, for the record, the CPS did come back to me this morning to point out that they would not automatically release EVERYTHING. Though the exact grounds for what they choose to release feel a bit fuzzy.

So it is possible that had this story not come to light they might have published the details in a month or so. Or they might not. As we agreed: tis speculation, and now subject to a fairly wide-ranging review of process.

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WTF?

Re: Shurely shome mishtake?

WTF indeed...

"comment on medical issues", that alone is enough to say it wouldn't have been released as is, and I can't imaging un-charged peoples details being released, especially the minors!

I would expect at least 116 lawsuits to be brought, criminal charges possibly as they have breached the DPA for sure!

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Shurely shome mishtake?

> I would expect at least 116 lawsuits,

No chance. No discernible damage has been done as the details were only sent to a single person (the one who requested the FOI).

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Shurely shome mishtake?

"[...] and I can't imaging un-charged peoples details being released, especially the minors"

The Press appear to obtain the details of un-charged people from the Police - whether officially or on the quiet.

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Anonymous Coward

the cps needs to be prosecuted now, whoever is responsible needs to be charged!, i dont know what the penalty is for such a breach, but i want them to be punished to the fullest extent of the law!

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Pirate

The decision to prosecute the CPS will be taken by...

The CPS. What odds that there won't be enough evidence?

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Anonymous Coward

The really scary thing here...

..it that some utter fuckwit gave away the names of kids (those under the age of 18). It doesn't matter what sort of kids they were, whether or not they already had ASBOs, or what. They were KIDS.The twat should be hung by the balls until the parents of the kids get their mitts on him. Then the matter of a repeat performance will likely as not be all but academic.

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Childcatcher

Re: The really scary thing here...

"..it that some utter fuckwit gave away the names of kids (those under the age of 18). It doesn't matter what sort of kids they were, whether or not they already had ASBOs, or what. They were KIDS.The twat should be hung by the balls until the parents of the kids get their mitts on him. Then the matter of a repeat performance will likely as not be all but academic."

Won't someone think of the children!!

The worst kind of "adult".

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TRT
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Trollface

Well at least...

I can now check if my daughter was telling the truth when she said she didn't get arrested at the "demo".

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Terminator

Is no-one surprised that they kept all this info? Some kid gets thrown in the back of a van and interrogated in shifts for 24hrs, then released again because he did nothing wrong, and the cops have his name (+ dabs, +DNA?) on record forever? (terminator becos no robocop icon)

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Anonymous Coward

sackings?

court cases?

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Unhappy

Re: sackings?

You'd hope so.

Sadly, standard ICO procedure with public sector organisations is to fine them huge amounts of taxpayer's money, and maintain the principle of civil service impunity.

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Mushroom

Anyone remember the phrase

"The diginity of the office" - it gets used to excuse cover things up.

Meanwhile those who strip these services to the minimum so workers are overloaded walk away from it.

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Big Brother

I sensing a "We did nothing wrong" escape coming soon.

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Compare with McDonnalds

Add an extra gram of choc to an icecream: fired!

Leak loads of personal information: probably not fired!

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Compare with McDonnalds

"Add an extra gram of choc to an icecream: fired!

Leak loads of personal information: probably not fired!"

Exactley! Clearly demonstrates why I think the English are as thick as pigs shite!

Fking Jeremy Kyle rejects!

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Compare with McDonnalds

"Exactley! Clearly demonstrates why I think the English are as thick as pigs shite!"

You continue to amaze me with your capacity for fail and self-pwnage.

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A copy of which has been seen by The Register

So which one of you was on the list?

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FAIL

What ?

"This all shows how the policing of protest is increasingly out of control."

I don't understand the MPs comment. Why does arresting people for damaging private property and attempting to assault police officers mean that the policing was "out of control"?

What this shows is that there aren't the relevant safe-guards in place for FOI request answers.

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Re: What ?

>I don't understand the MPs comment.

They weren't arresting people for damaging property they were rounding up people for whom they had no evidence against, arresting them and no doubt taking samples of their DNA. A stark contrast to the Swedish system which attempts to first ascertain even a minimum level of guilt before arresting someone.

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Anonymous Coward

CPS are hopeless

I have unfortunately had dealings with the CPS in the past. They are without a doubt typical of the public sector - inept, lazy, and immune to prosecution.

In my case they admitted to breaching the DPA mandatory response time in order to attempt to obscure the name of an incompetent employee from what were public records, while white-washing the consequences of their f*** up.

Unfortunately they are what is known as a crown agency, like the passport office, and so cannot be sued in British courts, as they act with direct mandate of the head of state who cannot be tried in their own court of law.

The CPS know this, and so have little compunction regarding breaking the law and then badly covering it up. They'll give you a meaningless apology, but their staff are protected from any disciplinary procedures.

As a result of their behaviour I withdrew from the criminal justice system, and while I'm happy to assist police as a witness, I refuse to testify in court or appear on a jury.

This case will be come another "training issue" where "lessons will be learned".

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Anonymous Coward

Re: CPS are hopeless

"They are without a doubt typical of the public sector - inept, lazy,"

Your sweeping comment clearly demonstrates that your opinions are biased and unconsidered.

Well Done!

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Anonymous Coward

@Obviously

"Your sweeping comment clearly demonstrates that your opinions are biased and unconsidered."

I'm not the AC who made the original accusation, but having worked for the civil service and the MoD, having seen first hand the corruption and incompetence of my local council, been exposed to ineptitude and stupidity of government departments, know of the dismal ineffeciency of dpeartments like DWP and quangos like the Research Councils, seen at first hand the sluggish and useless performance of the SFO, CPS, the lack of control and governance within the NHS, and more, I think that sweeping comment is accurate. Factor in things that the NAO managed to rumble (and they're not exactly a rottweiler, are they?), that the press report routinely, and the reality is that the public sector is broadly speaking useless, inefficient, unaccountable and occaisonally corrupt.

There's a few good people, but not enough to offset the dross.

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Anonymous Coward

and people want to trust the public sector with a naughty list of who wants to watch porn?

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