Monthly Archives: January 2010

Tom Whitehead writes in the Daily Telegraph: Police numbers have fallen in six out of 10 forces, figures showed, as senior officers signalled more cuts are on the way. Three forces, south Yorkshire, West Yorkshire and Avon and Somerset, lost more than 50 officers last year. Chris Huhne, the Liberal Democrat home affairs spokesman, is quoted: “Instead of squandering billions on ID cards, the Government should concentrate on getting more police officers out on the beat.”

Officers numbers down for six in ten forces

According to Public Servant magazine: The new border security programme e-borders has hit its target of processing 100 million annualised passenger movements per year. This means e-borders has captured the travel document information (TDI) for 147 million passengers Despite the large figures, borders minister Phil Woolas said in a parliamentary written answer that the programme has not yet achieved the target of processing 60 per cent of all passengers into and out of the UK. Currently e-borders is checking between 45 and 50 per cent of all passenger movements, he said, although the figure is subject to independent verification.

100m passenger movements logged

Michael White writes in The Guardian: When Tony Blair moved into Downing Street his chief of staff, Jonathan Powell, used to tell visitors how the new prime minister would replace Whitehall’s feudal baronies with a Napoleonic model of government – a results-oriented regime driven from No 10. A decade or so later the highly politicised, command-and-control approach, much of it visible in the Thatcher era, is more remembered for its failures – from Iraq to school Sats to ID cards – than its successes. In 2010 all parties agree, with varying degrees of contrition, that Whitehall should become cheaper, smarter, decentralised and customer-focused.

‘Permanent government’ seizes moment to shape thinking of elected politicians

Joe Fay, writing in The Register, calculates that at the present rate that ID cards are being issued, it would take at least 136 years before the entire population is recorded in the ID register. However, he concludes: The ace up the government’s sleeve is that if you don’t want an ID card, you’ll still end up in the ID database if you renew your passport. Hillier said that at present, around 80 per cent of the UK population apply for a passport over a ten year period. Which still raises the question of how the government will get the other 20 per cent – 12 million people – registered. Hillier added that as of 2012 the government will require people applying for a passport or ID card to submit ten fingerprints for recording in the National ID database. However, she said that “Where an individual is unable to record […]

Entire UK will be on ID database sometime in next ...

The Home Office seems to have quietly announced a policy of not enforcing parts of the Identity Cards Act 2006. Tom Espiner writes on the ZDnet web site: [Phil] Booth said that once people have signed up to the National Identity Register, they have a legal obligation under the Identity Cards Act to update information — such as change-of-address — for the rest of their lives, or face fines of up to £1,000. The Home Office spokesman said that while people have a legal obligation to update their details, the Home Office will not enforce the penalties if the owners no longer carry the card. “Our policy is clear that we will not enforce the requirement to update personal information if you have returned your card to cancel it, or you report it lost or stolen, and inform us you do not wish to renew it,” said the spokesman. According […]

Young Londoners can get ID cards from February

Joe Murphy writes in the Evening Standard: Young Londoners are to be the first in the capital to be issued with ID cards, the Home Office announced today. People aged 18 to 24 will be able to spend £30 on a biometric photocard that can be used to prove their age when buying alcohol or age-restricted goods, to gain entry to a nightclub, or even to travel in Europe. But anti-ID card campaigners urged them to boycott the scheme, claiming it was a plot to soften up Britons for compulsory cards

£30 ID cards for young Londoners

Christopher Hope writes in the Daily Telegraph: Every Briton will be asked to hand over their National Insurance number and signature to keep their right to vote, under new plans. The information will be added to local electoral registers and held at city halls across the country, raising concerns about the security of the data. The Government also admitted that the new plans could discourage people from voting. Last night campaigners sounded the alarm about the plans, which are to be introduced after July, suggesting that the breadth of information which will be held by councils will present “the perfect kit for identity fraud”. Electoral administrators said they were concerned that the extra information could be made available to people who purchase copies of the electoral register. The new requirement for people to provide additional “personal identifiers” when they register to vote has been brought in by the Government to […]

Revealed: Britons to be asked for NI number, date of ...

Timothy Garton Ash writes in The Guardian: My approach to this election is ­therefore to ask: what can it contribute to fundamental reform of the state we’re in? How can I best use my vote and my voice to advance this change we really need? The answer is complicated, and the change will not come in a single step. Much will depend, for example, on whether the election produces a hung parliament, and if so, what variant of a hung parliament. He concludes: The thing you can do at once is go to and vote for what you think are the top five political reforms that Britain needs. The Power 2010 movement will then confront parliamentary candidates with these demands, and try to persuade them to endorse them. The more of us join in, the more oomph this campaign will have. As I write, the top five are 1) […]

If Britain wants change that counts, there’s an election it ...

According to Public Servant magazine: The popularity of the ID card appears to be struggling after it was revealed that only 1,300 ID cards have been applied for in Greater Manchester. The particularly damning fact is that in October 2009 it was revealed that there had been 2,000 expressions of interest by Manchester citizens. At the time, the Identity and Passport Service’s chief executive, James Hall, defended the 2,000 figure, saying it would rise once advertising had started in the city. But following the launch of ID cards in the North West, identity minister Meg Hillier admitted in a parliamentary written answer on 19 January 2010 that the IPS has attracted less than those initially interested. From the scheme’s launch in the city on 30 November 2009 to 14 January 2010, 1,300 people who live in Greater Manchester have “applied and attended an enrolment appointment for an identity card”, she […]

ID cards face struggle in North West

Tom Young writes in Computing: The e-borders scheme is now tracking almost half of all passenger movements into and out of the UK, immigration minister Phil Woolas told the Commons yesterday. The figure is ten per cent short of the 60 per cent the Home Office had anticipated by the end of 2009. The £1.2bn scheme, which is running on budget, allows the UK to push its border controls further out to the point of passenger embarkation, which means anyone boarding a plane, boat or train travelling to the country will have their passport details checked before they depart. It aims to track 95 per cent of all passenger and crew movements by the end of this year, representing all major commercial traffic, with 100 per cent coverage by March 2014. Carriers will be required to provide all the information on the biographical page of a passport to the Home […]

e-borders now tracking half of UK passengers

A long, detailed article in the Independent reports that “Database State” projects have contributed significantly to the £26bn cost of government computer systems that have suffered severe delays, run millions of pounds over budget or have been cancelled altogether. David Blackburn, writing in the Spectator Coffeehouse blog summarises: Let me take you on a whistle stop tour of dud investments made on our behalf. The major culprits are the NHS’ national IT programme (over budget and late at £12.7bn and used by only 160 health organisations out of £9,000), the MoD’s defence information infrastructure (over budget and late at £7.15bn and which was commissioned without a pilot) and the ID cards scheme (£2bn over budget and virtually scrapped at any rate). The government enjoys an impeccable reputation for throwing good money after bad bureaucracy; all three examples are evidence of the blinkered approach Labour still takes and the system that […]

Labour’s IT bungles cost taxpayers £26bn

Andrew Hough and Martin Beckford write in the Daily Telegraph about security breaches in the ContactPoint database of all 11 million children in England: In November the Government declared that a pilot phase involving 20 councils and charities had been a success, and that the project will be taken up nationally. But there have been at least three security breaches so far, in London, Staffordshire and Surrey, according to details obtained under the Freedom of Information Act. One “serious” breach involved two staff at Westminster City Council, where many politicians and public figures live, losing details of children that had been originally stored in an envelope. An official report admitted February’s incident had been a “serious breach of the duty to maintain confidential data securely”. “Officers involved have taken all possible steps to locate the data and clearly understand the seriousness of this incident,” the report said. Peterborough Council refused […]

ContactPoint database suffers ‘serious’ security breaches during trial phase

Michael Gillard and Richard Osley write in the Independent on Sunday: Police are using controversial car-surveillance technology aimed at catching criminals and terrorists to target members of the public in order to meet government performance targets and raise revenue, The Independent on Sunday can reveal. Police whistleblowers also claim that intelligence stored on the national Automatic Number Plate Recognition (ANPR) database is “at least 30 per cent inaccurate”, which has led to the wrongful arrest of innocent motorists and the seizure of their cars. The revelations highlight growing concerns about a burgeoning target culture among enforcement agencies and local authorities seeking to bolster figures and income with so-called soft arrests and fines on otherwise law-abiding members of the public. The UK’s soft-crime initiative is now a multimillion-pound industry: parking fines levied last year totalled £330m, with another £100m from speed cameras. These numbers are expected to grow, along with fines […]

The laughing policemen: ‘Inaccurate’ data boosts arrest rate

Ian Grant writes in Computer Weekly: The Conservative Party will set up a new cyber threat and assessment centre, review key national databases and critical infrastructure systems, and scrap the national identity card system, says party leader David Cameron. The party also plans to review the controversial Interception Modernisation Programme, which collects information about every electronic message sent and received or which crosses UK borders. Lewis Page, writing in The Register, has further analysis: There’s some crowdpleasing stuff, though, for those who feel that the British security community is already a damn sight too keen on new surveillance and forensic technology and databases in which to keep the resulting files. Cameron and Co promise that they will: …review relevant national databases and systems to develop a clear statement of purpose for each in line with the principles of proportionality and necessity, and to develop adequate governance regimes including strengthening and […]

Tories would kill ID cards and attack hackers with new ...

According to the Morning Star’s editorial: The DNA database for England and Wales holds over five million profiles, the largest per head in the world, and still includes an incredible one million people with no criminal conviction. And police forces are, in many cases, reluctant to remove the profiles of innocent people from that database. Names are being removed at the absurd rate of just one per day. The government’s reluctant response to the defeat was to propose new legislation to stop profiles being held indefinitely, with most innocent adults having their profiles deleted after six years. But the question remains as to why six years. Indeed, why any delay at all removing details of the innocent? The police have said that DNA matches from the database help to solve only one crime in 150, despite government claims that it is a key crime-fighting tool. This foot-dragging defiance of the […]

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