Sun, 31 Dec 2006

Blog posts for 2006


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Sun, 24 Dec 2006

A level of unparalleled threat

Last August, Paul Stephenson, Deputy Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police, said: ‘This was intended to be mass murder on an unimaginable scale’ while John Reid, the Home Secretary, exclaimed that ‘loss of life would have been on an unprecedented scale’.

Fast forward to December, and Sir Ian Blair, the Metropolitan Police Commissioner says on a Radio 4 (well worth listening to the whole 16 minutes of the interview):
‘We have no specific intelligence [...] The level of threat against the United Kingdom is of an unparalleled nature and growing. [...] Unparalleled in terms of operational threat since the second World War. Far graver threat in terms of civilians than probably during the second World War or the Cold War; that's it.’
So on one hand Sir Ian Blair says he doesn't have any specific intelligence, and on the other that the threat is greater than during WW2 when tens of thousands of people were killed in London. This is irresponsible propaganda.

During the same interview, Sir Ian Blair said: ‘I'd say this: I, for my own part, I am quite confident that I will not face any kind of misconduct... in relation to Stockwell. [...] I'll just say that I'm confident, shall we leave it at that?’ This follows the news the previous week that the High Court of England and Wales dismissed the legal challenge brought by the family of Jean Charles de Menezes against the prosecuting authorities' decision not to bring criminal charges against any individuals in connection with his killing in London in July 2005.

Consequences of shooting Jean Charles de Menezes: a dirty campaign (he was wrongly accused of wearing a too warm jacket, of being illegally in the UK, even of having raped a woman - all this eventually disproved by the family), no individual officer involved to be charged (and one of the officers killed another man since), a promotion for the officer in charge, and possibly a Health and Safety charge for the Police (of which the fine would then have to be paid by taxpayers).

In times of perceived unparalleled threat, one is concerned as well by the uncontrollable actions of a Police so confident in its power over the law.

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Thu, 21 Dec 2006

Findings of Police investigation now with misconduct office

The next and last step is for the Met Department of Professional Standards' misconduct office to decide what action to take.

Details in the usual place.

Trying to find out a bit more about this misconduct office, I discovered a 156-page 'Misconduct Investigation Guide' that was published under the Freedom of Information Act, which coincidentally happens to be under some threat.

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Sun, 17 Dec 2006

Turning Britain into a nation of suspects - 2

(Turning Britain into a nation suspect - 1)

Joan Ryan (Parliamentary Under-Secretary, Home Office) provided the following written answer on 11 December 2006:
The National DNA Database (NDNAD) records the DNA profile for a particular individual. It does not hold data on arrest and criminal records. This information is held on the police national computer (PNC). The facilities do not exist to cross-refer between all records on the NDNAD and PNC to the level of detail that would be required to provide the information sought.

However, we can say that information provided by the Police Information Technology Organisation (PITO) from the PNC indicated that as at 14 July 2006, when there were approximately 3,457,000 individuals on the database, 2,922,624 of these persons also had an entry on PNC. Of these, 2,317,555 (79.3 per cent.) had a conviction or caution (i.e. a criminal record). The difference between the two figures is attributable to: young persons under 18 who have a formal warning or reprimand recorded on PNC; persons who have been charged with a recordable offence where proceedings are on-going; and persons who have been arrested for a recordable offence but no further action was taken.
In other words, 1,139,445 of the entries in the DNAD as of last July were for persons never having been found guilty of any crime. A third (32.96%) of the DNAD entries are for innocents.

This also likely mean that previous written answers were a huge understatement and innacurate. For instance Andy Burnham (Parliamentary Under-Secretary, Home Office) claimed in March 2006:
As indicated in the answer of 20 December 2005, Official Report, column 2890W, there were 139,463 people who have a DNA profile on the National DNA Database (NDNAD) who have not been charged or cautioned with an offence. This figure comprised 124,347 people who have been arrested and subsequently not been charged or cautioned with an offence and 15,116 people who had volunteered a sample and given consent to the profile being loaded on the NDNAD.
...and John Reid (Home Secretary), not even two months ago, in October 2006 was stating:
It is not currently possible to determine how many of the 124,347 "CJ arrestees" (persons with a DNA profile on the National DNA Database who have been arrested and subsequently not charged or cautioned with an offence) have never been convicted of an offence. [...] The figures might suggest that the remaining 100,828 persons have never been charged, reported for summons or sanctioned for any offence.
The number of innocents in the NDNAD in a year has gone from 139,463 (Andy Burnham) to 100,828 (John Reid), to eventually more than an eightfold to 1,139,445 (Joan Ryan). Is it alright for the Parliament and us to be misled with such contradictory figures?

(Latest figures via Reid 'buries' news that police hold DNA of 1m innocent people via More than a million innocent people now on the National DNA Database)

More on the NDNAD in Is the UK a police state?

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Tue, 12 Dec 2006

Andy Hayman criticises Stop and Search under Section 44

The BBC (via UK Liberty) reports on the UK's senior counter terrorism police officer questioning the value of the Stop and Search powers under Section 44 of the Terrorism Act 2000:
Andy Hayman, the Metropolitan Police's assistant commissioner responsible for anti-terror probes, said few arrests or charges arose from such searches.


I am not sure what purpose it serves, especially as it upsets so many people, with some sections of our community feeling unfairly targeted.
I raised this very issue with MPA last year.

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Sun, 10 Dec 2006

IPCC confirms findings of Police investigations

The IPCC has confirmed the findings of the Police. I should now expect a copy of the report from the Police.


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Mon, 04 Dec 2006

Read, hear, see

Via the Economist:
Mats Lindoff, the chief technology officer at Sony Ericsson, a leading handset-maker, points out that the processing power of mobile phones lags behind that of laptop computers by around five years. Furthermore, studies show that people read around ten megabytes (MB) worth of material a day; hear 400MB a day, and see one MB of information every second. In a decade's time a typical phone will have enough storage capacity to be able to video its user's entire life, says Mr Lindoff.

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Sun, 03 Dec 2006

Use of biometrics by the Home Office

PITO identification roadmap Joan Ryan (Parliamentary Under-Secretary, Home Office) answers:
Planned projects in the Home Office which will make use of biometrics include: In addition there are a number of smaller projects some of which are partnerships with other organisations in the UK and abroad. Existing projects in the Home Office which make use of biometrics include: As for planned projects there are a number of smaller projects some of which are partnerships with other organisations in the UK and abroad. The Home Office is continuing to examine new technologies, and new ways of using existing biometric technologies, to ensure the protection of the public.
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary, Home Office did say "include" - one major omission is the NDNAD (National DNA Database). And the PNC includes data from some of these biometric databases.

Useful search string to keep up to date with the Governement's position on biometric: They work for you.

The facial images national database (FIND) was supposed to be operational this month. (See how this technology worked at the Super Bowl.) PITO has some more details on the current status:
FIND Pilot has now gone Live. Good news on the FIND project is that the FIND Pilot has now gone live in 5 Forces around the country. The Pilot started 06/11 and will run for approximatly three months with an option to extend the system if requested by the Forces and it is feasible. A Benefits / evaluation workshop is happening 29/11 to assess the first months success of the Pilot and capture the benefits gained so far to the Forces. The Forces involved in the Pilot are Lancashire, West Yorkshire and Merseyside (supplying their data and images) and Devon and Cornwal and British Transport Police Leeds Office (read only). We have had requests for access by other Forces '/ goverment bodies and of which need to be considered.

Some of my personal encounters with IDENT1 and NDNAD: fingerprints, palm prints and DNA samples taken. As recorded in the PNC. Raising some of these issues with the MPA. Finding that private companies are keeping their own DNA databases, possibly including my own DNA; complaining about it to the ICO; one response; a further one. Discovering that DNA samples and profiles are kept until death of the subject. Discovering that DNA samples and profiles are kept for eternity and that the NDNAD records information as to whether the subject has been convicted (which can of course be incorrect).

The Home Office is also involved in these changes.

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