Database of distrust

June 16th, 2010 at 9:10 am by andrew

According to the Independent’s leader:

The vetting and barring scheme represented the worst instincts of Labour in office: the assumption of guilt, the love of bureaucracy, the obsession with databases, the reflexive statism. The previous government did scale back the scheme last year. But the new Home Secretary, Theresa May, is right to go a step further and call a halt altogether.

It concludes:

The core problem with the vetting and barring scheme was that it threatened to inject a hysterical level of distrust into all relations between adults and children. Now that the scheme itself has been halted, the Government’s task is to make sure that this counter-productive mentality goes too.

Anti-paedophile database halted weeks before launch for ‘commonsense’ reasons

June 15th, 2010 at 7:22 am by andrew

Christopher Hope writes in the Daily Telegraph:

Plans for a database of adults who want to work with children have been halted following a wave of criticism.

Ministers feared the Vetting and Barring scheme, designed to protect children from paedophiles and which was due to be introduced in England and Wales next month, would drive a “wedge” between adults and children.

Theresa May, the Home Secretary, will say on Tuesday that the scheme is being stopped, and will be redesigned along “common sense” lines.

Government to review summary care record

June 14th, 2010 at 8:19 pm by andrew

Anita Wilkinson reports on the BMA web site from the BMA local medical committees conference:

GPs voted narrowly against abandoning SCRs (summary care records) at Friday’s BMA local medical committees conference.

Their decision followed news of a government letter to the BMA saying that the current processes for SCRs should be reviewed.

Speaking to ‘BMA News’ after the vote, BMA GPs committee chair Laurence Buckman said: ‘After a very close vote, GPs decided to wait until there is evidence about the SCR before deciding to abandon it.

‘It is clear that they don’t like the consent model, they’re nervous about the security of the data and are not even convinced that the idea is suitable at a time of economic difficulty.’

GPs did, however, call on the BMA to ‘abandon formally and publicly its acceptance of an opt-out system for sharing records’

Face-to-face passport interviews catch only eight fraudsters

June 13th, 2010 at 7:41 am by andrew

David Barrett writes in the Sunday Telegraph:

Since 2007, first-time applicants for passports have been required to attend face-to-face interviews with officials from the Identity and Passport Service (IPS) in an attempt to spot fraudsters.

Out of half a million people interviewed so far, just eight have been refused passports on the basis of the evidence obtained, according to official figures.

Although 4,000 fraud investigations have been triggered as a result of the interviews, not one has led to a prosecution or conviction.

Yet the government has admitted that on its own estimate, 4,400 fraudulent applicants per year are still managing to slip through the net and obtain passports.

Phil Booth, of campaign group NO2ID, said: “This expensive project was an attempt to introduce a network by stealth for the national identity card scheme. These figures show it has failed to have any significantly effect on passport fraud.”

The system of face-to-face interviews cost £93 million to set up, with £30 million a year running costs on top. It has helped push the price of a standard passport up from £28 in 2001 to £77.50 today.

Alistair Darling: ‘We could have got through this recession’

June 12th, 2010 at 9:31 pm by andrew

Aida Edemariam writes in The Guardian about an interview with former Chancellor Alistair Darling:

He does, however, believe “we could have got through this recession and won the election. There’s bits of medicine we could have administered that would have made things a bit easier.” Such as? “I think we could have gone further about what we would actually have done. But you know – there’s a perfectly good counter-argument which says that you would never have got a fair hearing for it.” Does he mean in his pre-budget report? “Yeah. I … I … I wanted to show more examples of what we could cut, and more examples of what we could switch. But there was a more limited appetite for that than you might think.”

What would he have wanted to be more upfront about? A defining, and frustrating, feature of the election, for voters, was of course the general reluctance to spell out what exactly cuts would mean. “Well, I’ve always thought the ID card scheme was … if you were looking for a problem to solve, this was it. We could have just made a virtue of it, said, ‘We’re not doing that any more – we could spend it on more police’, or something like that. In my view, had we gone further in saying to people, ‘We’re not going to do this, and we’re going to make a virtue of not doing it’ – I think it would have been easier for us, and more difficult for the Tories and Liberals. But we didn’t do it, and that’s it.”

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