back to article Randy plods plundered police records just to get a date

Checking out women "for sexual purposes" was just one of the ways Welsh police have breached people's data protection rights. Having all that knowledge at their fingertips proved too much for some in Wales' four police forces, leading to 85 recorded breaches since 2006, the BBC found out in a Freedom of Information request. …

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  1. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Down

    I really do admire what the police stand for..

    However, i DONT admire how they flout the law. Assumiong they,as moral bastions, have an automatic right to pry.

    Sorry, but thats a big no-no.

    However, no doubt the ICO will spit fire (well, steam at most) and we will all end up back where we started..

    1. Giles Jones Gold badge

      As part of their job they have to access such information. It's part of how they detect crimes and solve them.

      This shows that the checks and auditing built into the system is working.

      What more can the system do? do you really want more red tape in the system? forms completed in triplicate before each access to the database?

      1. Richard Taylor 2
        FAIL

        Checks and audits

        No it does not show they are working.

        It shows that some individuals have been caught. It does not indicate the scale of the problem, it does not demonstrate what fraction of probable violations have been identified.

        It is this sort of wooly thinking that allows organisations to make use of a few cases to 'demonstrate' they are doing something and pull the proverbial over everyones eyes.

      2. Thomas 18
        FAIL

        3.5% success rate

        Actually since only 3 dirty cops got fired/retired out of the 89 breaches I'd say the 'checks and auditing' is not working.

        I would see a zero tolerance policy on police corruption.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          @Thomas 18

          If you think that a minority of police looking up people's details on their database is corruption, then police in this country must be doing pretty well. Look around the rest of the world and at what they call police corruption.

          No, it's not right, but it is found out, reported and the people involved are disciplined.

  2. The Flying Dutchman
    Devil

    Any guesses...

    ... about the number of breaches that were detected but not recorded, and/or the overall detection rate?

    1. Richard Taylor 2
      Thumb Up

      That information

      is not assessed as far as I know in this context. In more rigorous environments in which intelligence os gathered and stored there is some work to do exactly this.

  3. Ralph B
    Big Brother

    Rock and a Hard Place

    I imagine it is likely that a copper would also get sacked if their partner or housemate turned out to be a criminal. So, some method of them doing background checks would seem reasonable. I suppose they could ask their potential partners/housemates to apply for their own CRB checks, but it'd hardly be a great start to a trusting relationship, eh?

    1. gerryg
      Facepalm

      logic failure...

      I don't know whether knowing someone with a criminal record is a sackable offence, but knowing someone who should get a criminal record seems to require action as part of the job.

      What I really found curious is that you thought not asking a potential partner to do a CRB check because you'd done one behind their backs was a good start to a trusting relationship.

      They just don't know (yet) that they don't have a trusting relationship.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Between a rock and their own stupidity

      They don't need to. That's what the vetting section is for. The hypothetical copper is contractually obliged to notify his HR department of a change of circumstances, who will then carry out the checks if this change involves someone moving in.

    3. Richard Taylor 2
      FAIL

      why should

      the be sacked unless they were aiding and abetting the criminal? Any evidence that (for example) a traffic cop gets sacked every time his/her partner breaks the law?

    4. JohnMurray

      People

      cannot apply for their own crb check.

      Nor for one for their friends/relatives.

      Unless they are an employer.

      1. Ralph B
        WTF?

        @JohnMurray: Nonsense!

        Of course you can apply for your own CRB check:

        - http://www.direct.gov.uk/en/Employment/Startinganewjob/DG_195811

        @The other down-voters: My bad for daring to suggest that the Police might have more of a need to check the background of potential partners than the rest of us. Obviously I was wrong. I guess when everything is on Facebook such checks will be unnecessary anyhow.

  4. Richard Taylor 2
    Holmes

    What is telling

    is the phrase 'recorded'. In common with many public sector datasets (the NHS for example), policing records in the UK are notoriously leaky, a combination of (some) technology limitations but more frequently because of process limitations (the frequent sharing of IDs and the ability for even a relatively naiive officer to hide requests - especially when mass enquiries are being run). A philospohical AND technical rethink is required if this is to be really tacked.

  5. Big Al
    Childcatcher

    "... friends of their daughters"

    As someone with a teenaged daughter, I have to admit that I felt a definite burst of empathy when I read that.

    I don't condone it, of course, but... can certainly understand it!

    1. Voland's right hand Silver badge
      Devil

      Well, there is a vetting process for that...

      http://wilk4.com/humor/humorp3.htm

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    The most looked up potential girlfriend

    Dolly

  7. Trainee grumpy old ****
    Big Brother

    ddim i'w ofni, dim byd i'w guddio

    yep.

    (Thanks to Google Translate)

  8. Mystic Megabyte

    baa

    they have sheep on a database?

    1. Richard Taylor 2
      Trollface

      Only

      for protection of minors. Sheep at risk - we are given to understand there have been problems in the past and the police need to be proactive.

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    About as expected

    Plod /are/ human (obligatory *cough* but anyway). This is only those they've caught. And that's where they have a department to ferret out this sort of thing. Which is not the case in commercial outfits, where instead they have pressure to monetize all that lovely data. And it points to a fundamental weakness in data hoarding: If you have it, it'll get used, this way or that way.

    We really need better ways to "not-store" sensitive data, along with ever improving access and audit controls.

  10. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    @ Big Al

    "As someone with a teenaged daughter, I have to admit that I felt a definite burst of empathy when I read that.

    I don't condone it, of course, but... can certainly understand it!"

    Because you fancy your daughter's girlfriends? Probably not what you meant but you see there are divers possibilities.

    1. John Smith 19 Gold badge
      Thumb Up

      AC@11:14

      "Because you fancy your daughter's girlfriends? Probably not what you meant but you see there are divers possibilities."

      You sir (or madame) win this weeks Richelieu prize.

      Nice work.

  11. Sam Liddicott

    criminal?

    If this were a criminal offence then the police could improve their detection rate quite easily.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      @Sam Liddicott

      The detection part would be easy but the disincentive is that they would have to prosecute and then find their fellow officer not guilty thereby reducing their conviction rate.

  12. Simon 4

    Headline

    Headline should read:

    "Randy Welsh plods plundered police records just to get a date"

    because this is about Welsh police only.

  13. John Smith 19 Gold badge
    Holmes

    People with access to private information tend to abuse that access

    Only politicians *ever* seem surprised at this.

    It's an abuse of *trust* which (no matter how much they hate to admit) the public have to have in the police for them to do their job.

    Now suppose one of those police persons was actually more of a rapist and looking for people with a history of (say) drink offenses and were viewed as an unreliable witness, or as their attacker would view them "perfect" victims. Note I've made no comment on the gender of the attacker or the potential victim.

    BTW North Wales has a fairly extensive history of sex offenses against boys in council care homes.

    None of them got investigate until *very* late in the day.

  14. Is it me?

    Patterns of Behaviour

    How do you detect that someone has misused an information system containing personal details.

    If you date someone who has a "Security" role, you will have your background checked as soon as the relationship is declared. If your past is seriously dodgy then your partner will be asked to choose between you and their job.

    For those that have access to the systems, they are going to check you first, to save problems further down the line, not least being hurt. It's natural.

    So if you check out a girlfriend, or have a mate do it for you, you actually won't get caught, as how do you determine a single lookup is wrong, without having someone vet every single lookup. The people who do get caught are those who systematically abuse the system with frequent lookups, or those who are stupid enough to admit they checked out their partner, and then dump them.

    To actually police these systems to the level some seem to feel appropriate would take a huge amount of effort, and you probably wouldn't have any Police officers left. You only want to catch those misusing for criminally or fincially corrpt reasons, oh and those who use it as eHarmoney for cops.

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