back to article Called 999 recently? They've got your number

Millions of people who reported crimes have had their details stored on police databases. The revelation has emerged from information provided in response to a freedom of information request from the Press Association. It shows that police forces in England and Wales have kept data about people who call 999 or non-emergency …

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FAIL

Erm...

Erm... so like... yeah? When I've called the emergency services (maybe 3-4 times in the last 5 years) they've always asked for my details (police, this is) and they say it's so they can keep it on file in case they need to follow up on anything etc.

I don't understand this "news" story. I'm usually one of the first to be ITS NINETEEN EIGHTY FOUR RIGHT NOW but this article seems to be trying to create some kind of controversy where none would exist.

Of course they keep the details. I'd fully expect them to. I'd be surprised if they didn't and would be confused as to why not.

jesus christ.

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Flame

Expiration of data?

The issue here is that the police have kept records for 12 years. I only have to keep my tax records for seven.

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witness

reporting to the police automaticaly lines you up as a potential witness, ready made, for their convenience.

refusing to testify could get your 'nads handed to you in an evidence bag, by plod.

but how else can they at least attempt to weed out bogus or malicious callers?

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Anonymous Coward

Crime Stoppers

I would never report crime direct to police, best to use Crime Stoppers as they anonymise reports.

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Not surprised

Suppose I reported some strange goings on in the Bristol area on 17th December. I would expect them to look back at these as part of their murder investigation, and possibly get back to me to ask for more information or to appear in court as a witness.

In some cases, they find that the person they caught has committed lots of other unsolved murders in the past, possibly even going back 30 or 40 years. So the time limit for keeping this sort of information might not necessarily be just a few months.

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Thumb Down

999 is not the police

999 can be police, fire service, ambulance or coast-guard.

Who expects the police who holds the data of who has called? Not me.

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Coat

you forgot...

...mountain rescue

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Big Brother

What title?

...he didn't actually. In the UK, the Police have primacy over all rescue situations and any requests for mountain or cave rescue are routed to plod.

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FAIL

An excuse to have pop at coppers again?

12 years is potentially too long, however you look at some murder/missing persons cases and they can take decades to catch and convict someone.

If I call 999 I full expect my details to be retained until the crime is solved, the felon "banged up the slammer" ( ooer! ) and I can go on my merry way knowing I did right. If I reported something dodgy and after 4 years the Police are still looking for a nick in relation and my call might still be useful, then fair enough keep my details on file just in case they want to contact me over it.

Has anyone asked the coppers if they're 100% certain that some information is useless, it has been purged from the system? If so, then where's the problem with all this?

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Unhappy

Seriously?

>4 years [...] just in case they want to contact me over it.

And how much additional detail do you reckon you could give them after 4 years? After a couple month you probably couldn't remember fully what you told them, let alone additional stuff. After 4 years you would probably vaguely remember calling the cops for some thing or other but your recollection would significantly differ from what you initially reported, to the point of being useless or even dangerous (unless you kept written notes of stuff that you didn tell them to begin with, for some reason).

Be serious, they keep the caller info for that long just in case they can use it against the caller himself, that's the only possible use.

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Stop

Come on guys think sensibly about this.

If you really want to know how the Police manage information there is a set of standards called MOPI, it's public information. You might also take a peek at BIP0008 which defines how evidential information has to be managed. If you provide information that convicts someone, that information must be held on file until there is no possibility of an appeal.

Not all information is held for twelve years, some less, some longer, that's just a default. When you call the non-emergency number, or 999, the details will be recorded just like calling a utility, on a CRM system. Some of that information may be passed on to the intelligence system, or other systems for actioning, just as you would expect. Because the Police are human beings, some of it gets misused or misfiled, deliberately or accidentally, just like any other organisations, but in the vast majority of cases it is managed correctly, and used correctly according to the processes the Police have in place, which again, may be wrong.

A lot of "detective work" is built up on pictures of events, which used to be done through a person called a collator who acted as the long term memory, now they also have intelligence systems which look at events reported by the public to determine patterns of criminal behaviour and so on, do you really want them to stop doing that. Remember that Tesco probably knows more about you that the Police do.

If you want to be anonymous, ring crime stoppers, they don't have to record your name, oh and 999really is for things that the Emergency Services can do something about now, if you see someone driving off in your car dial 999, if it's nicked from the station car park, it's not an emergency. Mind you it would help if there was a single non-emergency number, as how many of us actually know the non-emergency numbers for your areas, home, work....

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They've got your number...?

Well, yes, when I've had to phone the Emergency Services in the past I've heard the operator say to the Police/ Ambulance/ Fire Service "Connecting you with 023 92..." so this is hardly news.

And why would they *not* keep the details? "Err, guv, someone phoned up reporting hearing a woman screaming in Clifton, Bristol just before Xmas, but we didn't keep their number"??

As for "senior officers admitted the information could be used against people as part of any future police investigation" that sounds like someone asked a typical Daily Mail weasel worded question "So, Mr Senior Officer, would you say that this information could be used against people...?" (Senior Officer shrugs) "Well, yes". "AHA! Hack scribbles down 'Senior Officer admits...''"

Whilst I'm all in favour of authorities not keeping excessive amounts of data for longer than is necessary, unless there's any evidence of this information being data mined to innocent people's detriment, this seems a total non-story.

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Anonymous Coward

"Necessary to fight crime"

My conclusion? They're mostly useless anyway, so I'm no longer going to risk telling the plod anything at all over the phone. Is that what the plod want? Well, they got it. "Necessary" indeed.

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Anonymous Coward

peopel are talking of retaining data

like it is some kind of conscious act. Much more likely is that they simply have no policy (or inclination) to remove old data.

So rather than malicious data hoarding it is simply a mixture of laziness, incompetence and apathy.

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Happy

times change

This was all true before there were computers (and after telephones). What has changed is the [REG?] public sensibility to records policy, potential misuse, and ability to correct wrong or disputed information - probably as a reaction to Labour and Civil Service insensitivity.

It sounds like a worthy pilot case to bring up to date - it is clearly of value, should be easy to realign, and there are currently no other teacups with storms in.

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Why would anyone object to this?

The police are there to help the public. If having my number on record as having reported something helps, I'm happy. It's not like they're some dodgy company who're going to sell numbers to telemarketers!

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They *were* there to help the public...

... there is very little evidence of that now, unfortunately.

I want to trust the police, honestly, but they just don't give me the chance.

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Anonymous Coward

Police records

>>>>

"if you ever make a complaint...it will appear on your CRB check"

I'm not a lawyer, but that smells like bullshit to me. I've never needed a CRB check myself, but I've seen various friends' records (as they have to work in schools occasionally) and they don't include details like "in 1998 he dialled 999 to report..."

<<<<

Possibly depends on how it gets reported as the person reviewing the report for the CRB check is not likely to know what really happened .... so if its written down as "xxx was interviewed in connection with an assault" rather than "xxx reported an assault to us" then that could cause problems. Remember reading of a case years ago of someone who failed a security check at defence company and since her dad was head of Scotland Yard fingerprint squad he looked into this and found that a couple of years earlier she + boyfriend arrived a a channel port after driving couple of days across Europe - just happened there'd been a Baader-Meinhof bomb that day and someone reported them to local police as looking "suspicious" - local police phone through car reg to UK police, checked it up and realized they weren't the bombers - however on UK system it was recorded as her car as having been linked to a terrorist investigation ... hence failed security check.

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Anonymous Coward

reference?

regarding the story?

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CRB Check

I do have to be CRB checked for work. That I dialled 999 (for a genuine crime) in recent years isn't recorded.

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RW
Grenade

@ Is it me?

"Police are human beings"

Piffle. On the evidence of the news I read, British cops are, to coin a phrase, Highly Self-important Assholes. (Be thankful that I did not resort to strong language in coining that phrase.) Our Canajun cops are no paragons of virtue, but seem to be a little more nearly human.

The SF author Jack Vance made the following relevant observation in one of his novels:

"As soon as the police slip out from under the firm thumb of a suspicious local tribune, they become arbitrary, merciless, a law unto themselves. They think no more of justice, but only of establishing themselves as a privileged and envied elite. They mistake the attitude of natural caution and uncertainty by the civilian population as admiration and respect, and presently they start to swagger back and forth, jingling their weapons in megalomaniac euphoria. People thereupon become not masters, but servants. Such a police force becomes merely an aggregate of uniformed criminals, the more baneful in that their position is unchallenged and sanctioned by law. The police mentality cannot regard a human being in terms other than as an item to be processed as expeditiously as possible. Public convenience or dignity means nothing; police prerogatives assume the status of divine law. Submissiveness is demanded. If a police officer kills a civilian, it is a regrettable circumstance: the officer was possibly overzealous. If a civilian kills a police officer all hell breaks loose. The police foam at the mouth. All other business comes to a standstill until the perpetrator of this most dastardly act is found out. Inevitably, when apprehended, he is beaten or otherwise tortured for his intolerable presumption. The police complain that they cannot function efficiently, that criminals escape them. Better a hundred unchecked criminals than that despotism of one unbridled police force."

This has always seemed to me to be exactly on point, even though it was originally written some forty years ago.

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Anonymous Coward

the title is too long

"They think no more of justice, but only of establishing themselves as a privileged and ENVIED elite."

(emphasis added)

they've screwed up there quite badly then, haven't they?

despised seems to fit much better

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Thumb Up

Brilliant quote ...

... and it says it all about the current situation, unfortunately.

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Gates Halo

wow you guys are STILL soooo paranoid

what's the big deal about someone keeping information in a database? seriously-- run away, run away.. the databases are coming!~

what is wrong with you guys?

this isn't newsworthy!!!

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Factual record

Some decades back one evening there was a knock on the door. It was a young Police Constable on his own. He said there had been a 999 call for help. I told him not us and it was probably a local address with a similar sounding road name. He walked away talking into his RT . Three minutes later he was back - no, definitely us. So I assured him that we had not called and he left.

Next night at the same time there was a knock on the door. This time it was a Police Inspector with PC in tow. Had we called the police ? No. I called out the rest of my family and a visitor who with expressions of surprise said that they had not called the police.

So we sat down and talked about it.

The two calls had been received from a nearby public call box. Had I enemies ? No. Pity. Chat away, cup of tea and the coppers left.

So do not underestimate your neighbours capacity for mischief.

And if you take any action then be prepared to accept all the consequences.

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