29 July, 2008

Crime maps and data protection

Ignore the Tory love-fest going on in the not-so-sub-text of this article, I actually very much agree with crime maps.

There was an article in the Times about a month ago on the same topic (the Times has one of the worst search engines I've seen, I had to use google to find it. Thank God for site search!) where the writer had heard about this working in America, but wanted the same statistic for their street in the UK. The police told them that yes, they had the data and that no, they couldn't have it because of data protection. Boris had the same success.

I can agree that the name and houst number of a rape victim shouldn't be shared, but that#s not what was requested. All you need to know is that on high street in townsville, x number of crimes happened and they were abc. Or, given we have a very efficient postcode system (I just don't understand how countries live without it!), say in postcode are AB1 2CD crimes efgh happened. As postcodes tend to cover about 20-30 houses, this would seem quite a useful number to know about.

I'm broadly supportive of the laws on human rights, data protection and freedom of information. What really annoys me is the non-lawyer idiots who decide to say no to everything in the name of these pieces of legislation.

the most stunning example I've seen was a criminal who sat on top of a house in Gloucester (where else!), shouting, throwing stuff and generally making a nuisance for himself for several hours. Now, I would have just let him sit there until he came hungry as that would be the short way of getting him down and would mean that all the neighbours in the street could go back to their daily lives. What did the police do? They went and got him a KFC bargain bucket because it was his 'human rights'. Have I missed an HR article here? Is my reasonably decent mark in consitutional and administrative law actually a sham and a mockery?

I think every petty official who tries to invoke one of these pieces of legislation - or is in a profession where he is in danger of doing so - should be made to sit down once a year, read all the legistlation in full, have a lecture on it and then sit a written test.

Oh, we can throw health and safety law in there as well.

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