A Judge has called South Yorkshire Police’s approach to CRB disclosure “fundamentally flawed” after the force decided to disclose the fact that a teacher had been involved in legal proceedings, despite the fact that the individual was not convicted of an offence.
The ‘old’ CRB system has seen lives ruined and this case is a very clear example of over reliance on a flawed system. After being found not guilty, it is abhorrent that South Yorkshire Police took the legal system into their own hands and used CRB disclosure as a means of issuing their own punishment. There must clearly be a system that ensures children and vulnerable adults are protected, however this must be balanced against unjust intrusion into people’s lives. If something cannot be proven in court then it is not right for the police to disclose details that imply guilt.
The case involves a former teacher, found not guilty of sexually molesting pupils, who has taken South Yorkshire Police to court as they continued to insist on listing the allegations on his enhanced criminal record certificate, which employers can see – effectively destroying his career in the classroom.
Having recently posted about local councils reducing the number of CCTV cameras in their local area it seems that the Government has taken the additional step to ensure that pub landlords aren’t forced into using CCTV when it is not necessary to do so.
Concerns were raised by pub landlords and the public that council licensing authorities have been making CCTV a legal condition of every pub license. To tackle the problem, the Government has announced that the blanket use of surveillance in pubs will end, with a new stricter code of practice being in place that will strike a proper balance between privacy and security.
Community Pubs Minister, Brandon Lewis MP, commented that:
“CCTV has a role to play in stopping and deterring crime in anti-social behaviour hotspots. But well-run community pubs that don’t have a public order problem shouldn’t be tarred with the same brush.
In positive step towards transparency Eric Pickles MP, the Communities and Local Government Secretary, has published new guidance which explicitly states that Councils should allow the public to overly film and council meetings.
DCLG was forced to publish the guidance after a string of councils had prevented individuals from recording council meetings on health and safety and legal grounds. The guidance will only apply to English councils, but it certainly creates a serious precedent for councils in Wales.
Public access to meetings is a key part of holding local councils and public bodies to account and it’s wholly wrong for people not being able to film or tweet in public meetings for spurious legal reasons.
Whether through Freedom of Information law, filming council meetings or publishing data, transparency is a critical check on those in power and an essential part of defending our liberties.
It seems that the fight against the ‘snoopers charter’ rages on. In a letter to The Times, signed by Jack Straw, David Blunkett, Alan Johnson, Lord Baker, Lord King and Lord Carlile, called for the ‘snoopers charter’ to be revived. The intention of the letter seems to be to put increasing pressure on Nick Clegg to drop his opposition to the draft Bill
In the letter, the group state that “coalition niceties must not get in the way of giving our security services the capabilities they need to stay one step ahead of those that seek to destroy our society”.
It should be remembered that several of the signatories to this letter argued that ID Cards, 90 day detention without trial and a million innocent people on the DNA database were all necessary to keep us safe. Fortunately the Government did not succumb to their scaremongering on those issues, and nor should it on the question of whether in modern Britain we want the state to be undertaking blanket monitoring of our emails, web browsing and social media messages .
Nick Pickles, director of privacy and civil liberties campaign group Big Brother Watch, said: “There are legal processes to request information about British citizens using American services and if they are being circumvented by using these NSA spying arrangements then that would be a very serious issue.
“The wider legal authority of the surveillance that the US Government has been undertaking is being disputed by very senior figures and it is essential that questions are asked at the highest levels to ensure British citizens have seen their privacy intruded upon without adherence to the proper legal process or any suspicion of wrongdoing.”
“If British citizens have had their emails and social media messages seized by the US Government without any justification or legal authority, serious questions must be asked at the highest levels.
“The revelations call into question the integrity of cloud services that are used by millions of non-US citizens every day, while setting a dangerous precedent that less-democratic regimes around the world may rush to copy. How many Members of Parliament, business leaders and key security figures use US-based services that may have been compromised?
“Surveillance without suspicion is an affront to a free society and it is essential that we get to the bottom of the NSA and US Government has being doing and how British citizens may have seen their privacy compromised on a vast scale.”
Today, along with the Open Rights Group, English PEN and Index on Censorship, we have signed a letter to Culture Secretary Maria Miller highlighting our concerns about the current debate around ‘blocking’ internet content.
It is absolutely right to pursue the removal of illegal content from the internet, but moving to a system where legal content is blocked poses a clear and significant risk to freedom of speech. The triviality of circumventing blocks aside, such a policy risks blocking legitimate websites and setting a dangerous international precedent. After all, who gets to decide what legal content is deemed to be unfit for the British public?
If content is illegal, pursue it, remove it and prosecute those who are responsible. If content is legal, then having a political, non-judicial process to decide what should be blocked is not the right way forward.
The letter is reproduced below.
New research for the Ponemon Institute for SafeGov.org highlights some critical issues in the increasing use of cloud-based services to store and process the confidential personal information of people using public services.
On the one hand, schools are not immune from the need to modernise how they operate and reduce costs. According to the research, a strong majority of schools expect to deploy cloud email and document services in the foreseeable future. The data shows that the ease of administering the system and lower costs are key drivers to move to cloud, while just 11% of respondents say the move will help protect student privacy. One in four already use cloud email for students and one in five do so for staff.
We have long called for changes to the CRB system having seen lives ruined by over reliance on a flawed system. Following from a Court of Appeal ruling in January, this week the Home Office announced a shakeup of the CRB system which will see a much more common sense approach to a system that was ruining people’s lives.
The Home Office announced that the changes, which are due to become law in the next few weeks, would “ensure a balance between ensuring that children and vulnerable groups are protected and avoiding intrusion into people’s lives.”
As detailed below, the rumours of burglars having their conviction erased from the checks will only happen (if the offence is commented when over the age of 18) if 11 years has elapsed since the date of conviction, and it the person’s only offence and if it did not result in a custodial sentence.
In today’s Times, Nick Herbert MP has written an article calling for the return of the Communications Data Bill. Although it’s not clear he has read it.
As copyright law prohibits us from reproducing the entire article, we have had to pick and choose which errors to reproduce here. Which has proved tricky, as most of the article is wrong or misleading in some way.
“Clever use of surveillance technology doesn’t recruit terrorists; it puts them in jail
To claim that letting the security agencies find out who terrorist suspects have been talking to is as evil as hacking down an unarmed soldier is a sign of missing judgment.”
Under Part 2 of the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act, the Security Services and Police already have the power to find out who a suspected terrorist is talking to. How they do this, from covert human intelligence sources, covert surveillance, directed surveillance or intercept is up to them.