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back to article Number of cops abusing Police National Computer access on the rise

The number of Metropolitan Police officers investigated for misusing a controversial police database has more than doubled in the past five years, The Register can reveal. Since 2009, a total of 76 officers in London have been investigated for misusing the Police National Computer (PNC), according to figures released under …

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Databases, the modern equivalent of the net curtain

Police, NSA, GCHQ...It's like there's all these people standing behind net curtains, watching what you are up to and secretly blabbering to each other about it and about what they are going to do about it...anyone who can use a net curtaincomputer can get in on the action.

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Honest question: how does this database's so-called "due process" square with the EU "right to be forgotten"? I'll leave the question of "should such a database exist" for other threads, but I do wonder how "unproven or non-essential-to-task personally identifiable information" can be stored indefinitely against someone's will?

Would there be legal grounds under the current system of interlocking (and often overlapping) jurisdictions to appeal this to the EU human rights courts? It seems to me that the state can make a reasonable case for keeping objectively verifiable information on hand using "national security" as waving flag. Do the "get out of jail free" rules allowing such governmental drag nets really give the UK permission to create a national gossip database and then use it against citizens with no realistic grounds for appeal?

If so then I would put forth that A) that's some shitty lawmaking and B) civilized countries would probably consider you being registered in a gossip database as grounds for political asylum. Gods know I would.

I know it's a terribly nerdy, Star Trek thing to say, but...the whole system sounds more than just Orwellian, it's downright Cardassian.

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"Honest question: how does this database's so-called "due process" square with the EU "right to be forgotten"?"

It doesn't because the "right to be forgotten" doesn't apply (like so many rules) to the state, and was drafted specifically in relation to consumer interactions with business. AFAIK it hasn't yet been enacted in law, but even so I'll wager it will be like the cookie law - a brief nuisance to everybody, before the world goes back to doing what it was doing in the first place.

Whilst I'm deeply unhappy with the extent and growth in state snooping, the PNC is a bit of an exception in my eyes. If you genuinely are innocent, and are arrested, then you've got an issue. But many people are arrested with due cause, but for a multitude of reasons aren't prosecuted. In my view that's no reason to "forget". And the passage of time is no reason for dropping people off - a searchable record of allegatons against Jimmy Saville might have made a big difference to the failure to prosecute him.

I think the main change that is needed is simply a procedure for appealing a PNC entry where a wrongful arrest was made, or an arrest that retrospectively can be seen as without due cause. So get arrested after a pub fight, and you're on the PNC and stay there, even if released without charge. Get arrested because of mistaken identity, appeal the PNC entry, have it deleted.

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Stop

Ledswinger, I feel truly uncomfortable with your view. Not because of you but because they are too many out there like you who make it too easy for the government to snooping around in our privacy and, much more importantly, to return the presumption of innocence and implement a guilty until proven innocent policy.

So in your view, upon being mistakenly arrested - because police made a mistake - you have to go through the hassle to being removed from that database? And it's not much different with the pub fight arrest. Either it can be proven, in front of a court, that you committed a violation of the public peace (or whatever) and you get your sentence. Or it can't. And in the latter case it doesn't matter whether you engaged in a pub fight but there was no evidence or you were an innocent bystander minding his own pint. That's a very basis of our constitutional state. I'm trying to keep it like that.

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@Evil Auditor

"So in your view, upon being mistakenly arrested - because police made a mistake - you have to go through the hassle to being removed from that database?"

Yes. I know that seems wrong, but surely you want the PNC to record the activities of the police as well as criminals? So they should have to record any arrest on the system, regardless of outcome. Now consider data integrity - editing rights should be severely limited, to prevent data being improperly edited by the incompetent or the malicious. So the officer or clerk who enter details of my wrongful arrest should not be able to delete that, merely add to the data (no idea how PNC works in reality). That means we'd need a data controller for the PNC, with an appeal and deletion process. If the local nick are busy arresting you without due cause, can you trust them with record editing rights? And if incorrect arrest records were routinely deleted at the local nick without any process, where's the downside for police officers from making pre-emptive arrests because it suits them?

Even then, if you were stopped repeatedly by the police, and believed eventually that this was intentional harassment or discrimination, if you've actually had the details expunged, where's your evidence when you start to see this as something more systematic? How would you hold police forces to account if they had a high rate of wrongful arrests, or released too many people without charge who might have been chargeable? What about events like domestic violence, where it is common for the victim to call the police, for the offender to be arrested, but the victim then refuses to press charges. That can build, the situation can worsen, and knowing that there is a history is very useful in trying to react to future instances; It also helps when there's a case conference, for example, that looks at the interests of children at risk of domestic violence. In fact, more widely, it becomes a problem that if you can frighten witnesses enough to avoid giving evidence, not only do you avoid a crmininal record, but you force the police to delete all records. Not very sensible is it?

There is no good outcome here, I'm afraid, but the idea of simply deleting records where no charges are brought seems to have its own downsides.

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Re: @Evil Auditor

" So they should have to record any arrest on the system, regardless of outcome."

There was a recent public debate about arrested people being given anonymity until charged. One of the points made during the discussion was - that the Police are too often using arrests on extremely flimsy grounds to effect a fishing search of computers, cameras, and phones.

Previously there were "arrestable offences" criteria. These legal restrictions were removed a few years ago to make anything "arrestable" - as the Police often could not remember the criteria and were getting sued for wrongful arrests.

These spurious arrests can happen when they are finding no evidence to support an investigation that promised career advancement. So they throw the net wider to cover the suspect's contacts. In the old days that would have been a case of asking people informally to discuss their relationship with the suspect.

No right-minded judiciary would grant a search warrant for those contacts without some evidence. A spurious arrest for anything - especially the rather vague "conspiracy to commit..." - neatly legalises a fishing search.

Such an arrest not only stops someone getting a USA fast-track visa - but will almost certainly influence a "tick box" ECRB clearance.

People who try to complain about such fruitless arrests may find themselves mysteriously pilloried in their local press - or harassed in other anonymous ways.

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@Ledswinger

Guilty unless proven innocent, sirrah?

You are the enemy.

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Re: @Evil Auditor

I've argued against this idea of handling people on the presumption of guilt before, but let me summarise it briefly:

The choice is between ensuring no innocent person is convicted, which runs the risk of some bad guys getting away who know how to play the system, or just locking up everyone who you don't like and damn the poor fellow who gets caught up in the dragnet.

Do the police really need more power? Well, no. If they would actually enforce the law instead of always trying to get around it, more convictions would actually stick. But that also means stopping the utter waste of time arresting people for taking public photographs, it means focused investigations based on proof instead of building cases on vapour and then see them thankfully thrown out in court.

Now, your approach amounts to lazy policing once again. If someone is released, their data MUST be destroyed, otherwise you start with profiling people based on earlier mistakes. Want to screw someone's life? Just accuse him of being a terrorist, and the arrest record will stand forever, even if innocent. Heck, you could play that game with every politician and there wouldn't be one left (hey, it DOES have some merit!).

Bad, BAD, VERY BAD idea. Yes, I know that we may not catch a terrorist that way. I'll take my chances, thank you, because most of the risks these days are caused by "normal" criminals and idiots with guns, knives and garden implements. I really don't want to add the risk of having my life ruined because someone else started gaming some sort of police dossier, thank you.

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Re: @Ledswinger

You are the enemy.

Not so much enemy as the utter clueless who the politicians love. I bet this one voted for Tony Blair too.

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Unhappy

@Trevor_Pott

"Honest question: how does this database's so-called "due process" square with the EU "right to be forgotten"? I'll leave the question of "should such a database exist" for other threads, but I do wonder how "unproven or non-essential-to-task personally identifiable information" can be stored indefinitely against someone's will?"

Much the same way that number plate recognition data is stored for (IIRC) up to 5 yrs in the UK for no very good reason, other than "Because we can."

As you might have guessed the Police National Computer (actually PNC2, as they retired the original, Siemens I think, mainframe years ago) runs multiple applications and databases.

However the UK has a thing called "The Rehabilitation of Offenders Act" which allows that for a lot of crimes after a period (IIRC 8 years) a conviction is "spent" and you don't have to include it on an employment application. That does not include sex crimes and I'm fairly sure murder and armed robbery, but it supports the idea that you have "paid your debt to society" already and persecution over events nearly a decade ago (at least) should not be forgotten in most cases.

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Re: @Ledswinger

"When bad men combine, the good must associate; else they will fall one by one, an unpitied sacrifice in a contemptible struggle."

Translation for younger folks: "all that is necessary for evil to triumph is for good men to do nothing".

Apathy is as damning as actively seeking to destroy the liberty of others. I will treat it as such.

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Alert

Nothing you EVER did should be forgotten, EVER ?

Or are you just glad you were not caught ?

Oh you probably think that you never did any wrong, but it is just a matter of defining wrong ... crossing close to a pedestrian passageway, smoking in THAT place, being ill and vomiting in THAT street (DRUUUNNKK).

You are a frightening and unfortunately more and more common kind of individual.

And a true menace to everything that make our democracy something more than a hollow word on toilet paper, oh wait ...

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Alien

"to return the presumption of innocence and implement a guilty until proven innocent policy."

But in a true Cardassian court the verdict has already been decided before the trial - the trial itself is merely a spectacle for the masses and a way for the guilty party to show remorse! ;)

It is better for the people... makes them feel safer knowing justice has been done!

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re: Law.

You mean, like Nuremburg?

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Re: @Trevor Pott

FFS, read what I wrote. The downvotes suggest that as a bunch of IT professionals there's a surprisingly high number of people who think that a record keeping system only ought to keep a revised version of history. Even regarding the comments by another poster about US visa waiver, so ****ing what? If you're wrongly arrested, deleting a database field on the PNC doesn't alter the fact that you-were-arrested.

Where did I suggest "guilty until proven innocent", or even imply it? You're typing cr@p. Maybe you think tis a grand idea that the PNC should be locally amended to some new view of the truth, whenver the desk sergeant decides that a particular record "won't be needed in future". As noted before, that has some interesting outcomes for both pre-emptive arrests, and for witness intimidation. I've every sympathy with those wrongly arrested. But that doesn't alter the fact that they have been arrested, and that any records must include that.

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Re: @Trevor Pott

"Apathy is as damning as actively seeking to destroy the liberty of others. I will treat it as such."

In addition to your pompous tone, you confuse state snooping and private data retention with operational record keeping. The two are fundamentally different, in a manner that you're evidently not clever enough to understand.

PNC records aren't just used to police the population, they're used to hold the police to account. They are an essential reference point for IPCC investigations or legal actions against the police, and the absence or records can be as damning as the existence and content. Look at the Hillsborough scandal - admittedly it largely predates the PNC and widespread digital record keeping, but the whole point was that original police record keeping was tampered with to disguise operational incompetence. And you want to have an open access database where the police can change the records?

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Re: @Ledswinger

"I bet this one voted for Tony Blair too."

I think you should read some of my other posts before making presumptious comments like that. But more tellingly, you seem to be in favour of keeping records of what you would have liked to have happened (or not), rather than that which happened. Perhaps you could name this new database design, where "facts" are pleasantly malleable, and cannot be relied upon at any later date?

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Re: @AC 10:51

"Now, your approach amounts to lazy policing once again. If someone is released, their data MUST be destroyed, otherwise you start with profiling people based on earlier mistakes. Want to screw someone's life? Just accuse him of being a terrorist, ....."

Your grammar and spelling give you away as a Merkin. In which case I don't think you're in any position to cast aspersions on the record keeping of public services on this side of the Atlantic. But even if I let that pass, you've enthusiastically grabbed the firebrand of liberty, are railing against new police powers.....and sadly that's not relevant here. The debate in this sub-thread is simply that our UK police force record their activity on a computer system, and they don't delete it. No change in that. No new powers. No new infringements on liberty (other than a very low number of known instances of misuse of the system).

If you're at risk of being falsely labelled a terrorist by anybody, then I think you need to complain about and to your own NSA, rather than worrying about how the UK police manage essentially UK specific data.

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Re: @Trevor_Pott

The RoO act does not apply to an enhanced CRB check, or any check under the safeguarding act.

It also does not apply when applying for any visa.

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That evidence against Barry George in full:

He lived in roughly the same part of London as Jill Dando.

He was seen outside in that area on the same day she was shot.

Fibres matching his cheap mass-produced trousers were found outside her house (i.e. some dust was found in the street).

He was obsessed with Princess Diana.

Princess Diana looked a bit like Jill Dando.

And sure, everyone knows he's a weirdo.

And he was convicted, for fuck's sake.

Anyone happy for the police to use their unproven or indeed disproven suspicions against us needs to explain why there'll never be another Barry George. I'm not convinced.

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Two things, Ledswinger.

First, you are conflating the deletion of records with the rewriting of history. They are not the same thing. No-one here has suggested that the police ought to be able to change the details of arrest records.

Secondly, it is perfectly possible to institute a system of records of police activity that enables us to spot where the police are making too many dodgy arrests without that same system being used to smear the names of the people they have wrongly arrested. We could, for instance, require the anonymisation of the victims of wrongful arrests. We also don't need to allow the police access to such records at all, and don't need to use those records to penalise the arrestees. You're being disingenuous here. This whole piece is about how people are having the fact that they were once wrongfully arrested held against them as if it's a criminal record, and you're saying we need to do this in order to police the police.

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Megaphone

Re: @Trevor Pott

You certainly implied guilty unless proven innocent the instant you implied that the rare consequence of a criminal "getting away with it" was somehow an acceptable reason for retaining gossip on record with the strength of fact. The whole concept requires throwing out the presumption of innocence.

Your argument is basically "if someone was arrested there was a damned good reason for it" which is the SAME FUCKING THING as "guilty unless proven innocent." It implies that the state cannot be wrong (how Cardassian of you!) or at least that it is wrong so rarely that the odd innocent caught in the net is worth the cost to society.

You are wrong.

It is better than 100 evil men go free then that one innocent man be jailed.

The fact that you have been arrested makes you guilty of no crime. Suspicion of having committed a crime is not proof of your guilt. The state can be and often is wrong. There is no moral or ethical means by which you can justify retention of records for someone who has been not been convicted of a crime in a court of law.

You are advocating that suspicion of anything by the state means guilt by default and simultaneously that harming innocents to get the guilty is okay. I will fight against you and people who believe as you toh every ounce of my spirit, every means at my disposal every last ounce of passion and life that I possess. Fuck you sir, you are the fucking enemy.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: @AC 10:51

Your grammar and spelling give you away as a Merkin

I hate to point it out to you that you have taken an unproven assumption (equivalent to a perceived crime) and based your comments on that (created an arrest record) without any evidence. That's probably the most amusing way ever to nuke your own arguments, because you are 100% wrong. Me no 'Merkin. Capiche?

I see where you're coming from, but the problem is that operational data is used to validate assertions not based in fact.

If you have been arrested, you must therefore be bad and suffer for this the rest of your life. Regardless of the cause - if said agent just had a row with his wife and you took a picture of him on the street (not an offence, but still treated by agents as such) and then didn't immediately complied you'd have an arrest, maybe with some extra whipping, sorry, tasering on top.

Unless you can show me a way to prevent such data being abused later I rather have the right to have it zapped. Maybe I should have to ask for it - fine - but keeping data where the sheer fact of having an entry with your name is enough to prejudice whoever checks for this, no thanks.

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Anonymous Coward

> Honest question: how does this database's so-called "due process" square with the EU "right to be forgotten"?

I do not know. However, as an anecdote I can tell you about a country in southern Europe in which I used to reside. Once I had the opportunity of checking my own entry in their police database.

The information it contained was exactly this:

- Name

- Date and place of birth

- Names of both my parents

- National ID number

- Last known address

And that was exactly it, in spite of a number of 'interactions' with police over the years.

A friend of mine was once convicted of assaulting a police officer. His record was automatically expunged after eight years, according to that country's laws.

Talking to the police about this, they basically told me they prefer to concentrate on real baddies rather than deal with heaps of useless data from small fry or downright innocent people. They also rely a lot on human intelligence.

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Re: @Trevor Pott

I confuse no such thing. The police are an extension of the state and that database can be and is used against you before you ever get to a court of law. You are arguing for effective extrajudicial findings of guilt (by default, simply by being suspected by a member of the plod) and sentencing (being added to a database that will have you treated differently from someone not in the database). You are advocating allowing members of the state to pass judgement on its citizens without the right to trial or a jury of their peers no matter how you dress it up.

Under no circumstances should police be keeping records on anyone who is not

A) Proven guilty with all matters of due process carefully observed

B) Actively under investigation

C) Have a formal complaint lodged against them where that complaint is signed by the complainant

Suspicions, gossip, mistaken arrests and so forth should never be retained. If a police office has a formal complaint to make against an individual then he should have the right to do that and he must sign his name to it. In addition, formal complaints must have an notification and appeals process allowing the individual subject to them to challenge the issue and have the complain removed from their record if they succeed.

The burden of innocence is on the state, not the individual. If you want to call me "pompous" for seeking to defend our essential liberty you go right ahead. Your pathetic attempt to deflect scrutiny of the utter lunacy of your claims with an a weak ad homenim is not going to hurt my feelings more than the idea that a silver badge holding reader of The Register would not merely exhibit apathy in the face of such actions by an overreaching state but actively defend them.

You offend me, sir. The names you choose to call me are irrelevant in the face of the callousness of your beliefs.

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Anonymous Coward

@Ledswinger

Leds, just because you have a shovel it doesn't mean you have to keep digging. :)

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Anonymous Coward

Re: @Trevor_Pott

There are two databases. The Police National Database (PND) and the Police National Computer (PNC).

The PNC contains details of all convictions, cautions, charges and arrests that pertain to an individual and these records cannot only be deleted under very extraordinary circumstances or when you are 100.

The PND contains further information including soft information etc etc. With records held on the PND you can apply to have them removed after 10 clear years of non contact with the police.

I was arrested just over 10 years ago on suspicion of an offence I was completely innocent of. I was thoroughly investigated and after several months I was informed that no further action would be taken.

As I now have 10 clear years since the arrest (and 40 clear years prior to the arrest) I can apply to have my records removed from the PND.

I CANNOT ever have the record of my arrest removed from the PNC. So will find it very hard to visit America or Australia. Applying for any job that requires an eCRB certificate may be problematic as the decision about whether the details of the arrest are released are entirely at the whim of the chief constable.

Am I happy about this. No I am f***ing not. I am essentially being treated as guilty with no chance or "parole" and there is sod all I can do about.

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Re: @AC 10:51

Ledswinger (13:53)

> Your grammar and spelling give you away as a Merkin.

Looks pretty much like UK English to me and not US English. Big clue - "vapour"

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Re: @Evil Auditor

>>"I've argued against this idea of handling people on the presumption of guilt before, but let me summarise it briefly:"

>>"The choice is between ensuring no innocent person is convicted, which runs the risk of some bad guys getting away who know how to play the system, or just locking up everyone who you don't like and damn the poor fellow who gets caught up in the dragnet."

It's not a case of making an either/or choice, it's a case of where to set various thresholds, and, if information is to be recorded, to limit access to relevant access.

>>"If someone is released, their data MUST be destroyed, otherwise you start with profiling people based on earlier mistakes."

Surely there are arrests which are mistakes, and other arrests which don't lead to charges which are not mistakes/

>>"I'll take my chances, thank you, because most of the risks these days are caused by "normal" criminals and idiots with guns, knives and garden implements."

And if someone did stab you, and you were sure you knew who was responsible but between you and the police you didn't have quite enough evidence for them to be charged, you'd retrospectively consider the police arresting them as a mistake?

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Re: That evidence against Barry George in full:

Not quite in full.

His 'weirdo' nature involved posing for a picture with a gun which looked similar to the assumed murder weapon, and being caught in the grounds of a royal palace with balaclava, rope and knife, and previous convictions for sexual offences.

And as well as fibre 'evidence', there was some regarding a claimed piece of gunshot residue, which indeed was one of the major factors in getting a retrial when it was successfully challenged.

>>"Anyone happy for the police to use their unproven or indeed disproven suspicions against us needs to explain why there'll never be another Barry George."

The police don't prosecute, the CPS do, and it seems the 'experts' both relied on to some extent either weren't expert enough or weren't unbiased enough.

The major police errors are arguably around not looking properly at evidence which suggested innocence one they thought they had the right person

There's also the issue of uncertainty about whether evidence could have been accidentally contaminated and whether there were armed police around when he was arrested.

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Re: @Evil Auditor

"And if someone did stab you, and you were sure you knew who was responsible but between you and the police you didn't have quite enough evidence for them to be charged, you'd retrospectively consider the police arresting them as a mistake?"

Yes.

Part of living under the rule of law - and living free - is that you risk every day of your life being blown up by a madman, run over by a car, stabbed by someone and many other horrible things. In most cases the perpetrator will be caught. In some cases they won't. This is a risk we take in the name of fundamental liberties and it is a price entirely worth paying..

This is not a "grey area" issue. There are no "gradations of justice." Every single sentient, sapient life form is possessed of the same fundamental liberties and deserving of the exact same rights and freedoms.. You do not get to curb the freedoms of someone else because you don't like them, their politics, their past, their race, height, weight, gender or because you/the state/your mom/etc suspect them of a crime.

The man who is suspected of stabbing me has the exact same rights I do and no just society can arrest him without a damned good reason, search him without probable cause and if we are to jail him then the evidence against him must meet certain standards.

Fortunately, your entire argument is a worthless straw man. If I walked up a police office and said "that man just stabbed me" then that is probably cause to detain him pending arrest. He could then be arrested if little things like "yes, there is a stab wound on you" can be verified. Eye witness testimony is one of the least reliable forms of testimony but our laws still allow for it to be used.

It is better that 100 evil men go free than that one innocent man be imprisoned. Innocent unless proven guilty is an absolute. There is no wiggle room. There are no circumstances under which it is ethically or morally justifiable for that concept not to apply.

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Re: @Trevor Pott

> Suspicion of having committed a crime is not proof of your guilt.

And therein lies the problem.

Being on the PNC, or having been arrested is seen to be a flag that the individual is, somehow, "dodgy". Hence the ineligibility for the US visa waiver programme.

But that's not what it means at all - it could indeed be evidence of police incompetence.

Were the PNC records to be interpreted *correctly*, there would be no reason to object to their being kept. But we all know they aren't interpreted correctly, and they never will be.

Vic.

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This is a massive percentage of police

Who seem to be able to use a computer now abusing these systems.

Every time I need the police to help me, it seems that the ones i talk to have either not got the training to use the system, or just give a blank stare when asked questions.

Even a simple, "hey can you tell me the date of the time I called you guys to help me when my drunk neighbor came into my property and attacked me" gets the response "sorry cant do that, file a freedom of information so someone who can be arsed looks for you"

With the amount of data we know they hold on criminals, and now the greater levels of very private information we know they hold on law abiding citizens, this offense should be a minimum jail term of some length.

The police constantly show themselves to be untrustworthy unless they are dealing with automated offenses like parking fines and speeding. They are, in the main, normal people tarred with the lazy brush (like all civil servants end up being after a few years) they need the fear that their actions will have some consequences beaten into them.

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Re: This is a massive percentage of police

>>"Even a simple, "hey can you tell me the date of the time I called you guys to help me when my drunk neighbor came into my property and attacked me" gets the response "sorry cant do that, file a freedom of information so someone who can be arsed looks for you""

Presumably even if they were to grant a 'simple' request, they'd have to verify your identity to be sure that you were the person you said you were, and they might feel they need some kind of formal written request to protect themselves from future allegations of unauthorised snooping if someone asks why they were looking up particular records.

It would also require that the person was confident in making a judgement about whether a particular individual did have a right to know some particular piece of information, something which would seem like a fairly murky area.

While there might be a few genuine simple requests like your example, it's not hard to imagine slightly less simple ones where people still felt they had 'a right to know'.

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Meh

Re: This is a massive percentage of police

I know it is fiction, but police and agents abuse people databases all the time in crime/murder shows. They'll look up their partners new boyfriend to make sure he's 'OK' or even look up exes to see what they're into. When they get caught by their supervisor they get the 'you know you aren't supposed to do that' speech, accompanied by a knowing smirk. I'd wager that's pretty much how it is in real life too. It's only bad if you're unpopular at the station already...

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It's not just fiction.

I worked with a student doing work experience a few years back. Her father was a police officer. She mentioned what a pain it was, the way he does background checks on her boyfriends -- "But it's OK, he's a detective, he's allowed to." She believed it was legal, because he told his family it was legal, probably because he thought it ought to be legal even if it wasn't. And the system in place to stop abuse of the system amounts to "Now, promise us you won't abuse the system."

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Anonymous Coward

So if the enforcers of the law can't be trusted, why do we feel the security services can be?

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Unhappy

"So if the enforcers of the law can't be trusted, why do we feel the security services can be?"

Err, who does trust the security services?

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Gimp

"Err, who does trust the security services?"

Easy.

Politicians

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<quote>So if the enforcers of the law can't be trusted, why do we feel the security services can be?</quote>

I trust the police more than I trust spooks.

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Anonymous Coward

"So if the enforcers of the law can't be trusted, why do we feel the security services can be?"

There is a difference in mindset?

The Police are very institutionalised and have a self-protective belief of always claiming the moral high ground. Members tend to conform to the practices of their peers and superiors. Nowadays they too often see themselves as superior to ordinary citizens.

The security services like MI5 or MI6 - are more about intelligence gathering. The consequences of making the wrong interpretation of data are likely to be very serious for the country. They are more amoral, and nuanced, in their judgements of other people's motives and actions.

Basically I would be comfortable having a pint with someone from MI5/6 - and avoid a policeman like the plague.

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Big Brother

@Spanners

I trust our spooks and our police in general, BUT there are bad apples in every bunch..

What I don't trust is the civil service or the politicians, they are dumb, over payed and have no grip on reality...

They are the ones that bring in laws that the police themselves disagree with...

We have too many criminal offences, we need to cut them down to the bare minimum, and anything else should be civil.

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Anonymous Coward

@Spanners

>I trust the police more than I trust spooks.

History suggest otherwise - I grew up on the periphery of Liverpool, where the police were literally in the pocket of people like Curtis Warren. It was ultimately spooks which broke the back of police corruption there - bugging the houses of senior officers etc. Only a couple actually got jail time DCI Davies etc - but dozens left quietly when faced with (mostly inadmissible) evidence and it was something of a sea change at the time.

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Bronze badge

Intended for MI but works for security services too

"Well, that’s what military intelligence does: fail. They should just drop the facade and call MI the "Department of ‘Whoops!’" - Gary Brecher, aka. The War Nerd..

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Big Brother

Subject Access Request

(s1-eu4.ixquick-proxy link via tinyurl ) http://tinyurl.com/lanm6xe

Unless you know you are a spy (therefore they do) all historical data and certainly anything held on record older than 5 years must be disclosed. For £10 per access. Like with many public employees, initial responses to reasonable, lawful requests seem designed to avoid the drone doing the job they have been paid to do. Stick with it, persist, keep accurate records of the names and numbers of all the drones you deal with and the stupid answers they give. You also have the right to have any incorrect information removed from your record.

Imagine is tens of thousands of people decided to exercise this right?

No sheeple icon so big brother.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Subject Access Request

Older than 5 years old? Where did you get your information from? I just got my SAR through and it's current to this date.

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Thumb Up

Re: Subject Access Request

@AC

Thanks for confirming that the SAR works.

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Silver badge

76 officers in London have been investigated

I'd wager that's just the tip of a very big iceberg.

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Re: 76 officers in London have been investigated

Indeed- I'd also bet that the number of people actually abusing the PNC has probably gone *down* rather than up, as a result of it becoming more traceable and more of a priority.

Doesn't make it any less outrageous- indeed, the fact that so many are being caught for it suggests that it's ingrained in the culture.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: 76 officers in London have been investigated

Since 2009. So 14 officers per year investigated. That's 14, per year, out of 32000 police officers plus another 3-4000 police staff with 4 investigations actually having a positive outcome.

What's the threshold for investigation? Is it allegations or the result of a dip sample? What does the investigation look like? Is it "Right, you need to justify these x checks" or is it an actual, in-depth trawl through a user's PNC history?

It doesn't exactly look like rampant misuse to me...

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