Monday, 29 March 2010

Careless disclosure costs reputations.

From August members of the public will be able to make applications for disclosure from police records about anybody who is in contact with children. It is claimed that the Home Secretary’s decision was justified by Home Office research - this relating to a tiny pilot study.

Hawktalk reveals the fundamental flaws in this egregious scheme.

The procedure involves four steps:
(1) Any person can make a request for information about a "subject"-
(2) Police then do a trawl of PNC, sex offender and local criminal intelligence data
(3) A preliminary risk assessment is made -
(4) Enquiries which do not meet the selection criteria are rejected – others move to the "application" for disclosure procedure,
(a valid enquiry had to pass two thresholds: (1) the subject has unsupervised access to children and (2) the subject lived in the force area.)

Hawtalk makes several important points and it is well worth reading the whole article.

Table 7 of the research report indicates that over half of applications did not have unsupervised contact with children. Hence step(4) of the police procedure should have been step(2); the research made no comment on this anomaly.

The Home Office Research Department has to be made independent of the Home Office.

Should personal data be retained on criminal intelligence systems if the subject has no criminal record and was not previously known to the police?

Such information might then be passed to employers to assess. Now ask a simple question: if you were an employer with a short list of two job-applicants – one of which has this kind of query against his or her name and the other hasn’t - which one do you employ?

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