back to article Blighty's National Pupil Database has been used to control immigration

The UK government's National Pupil Database has already been used to combat "abuse of immigration control" - despite ministerial assurances that the collection of pupils’ nationality will not be passed to the border officials. That is according to a latest Freedom of Information response published by the Department for …

  1. Christoph Silver badge
    Big Brother

    "There are currently no plans to share the data with other government departments"

    (Checks watch)

    "OK, it's now five minutes later so we can change our mind."

    1. Lee D Silver badge

      Read the full quote.

      Unless they are legally required to.

      If the police or Home Office asks, they are ALREADY legally required to.

      It was game over before they even begun.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Also no plan to be lying weasels that treat privacy with contempt

        They don't need to plan that one; it's their ground state.

      2. Smooth Newt Silver badge
        Meh

        Re: If the police or Home Office asks, they are ALREADY legally required to.

        Read the full quote.

        Unless they are legally required to.

        If the police or Home Office asks, they are ALREADY legally required to.

        It was game over before they even begun.

        I think it is slightly more complicated than that, because this is about different government departments talking to eachother. If, for example, the Home Secretary had decided that Home Office or Police should never ask for this data, then irrespective of the legal situation, this would not happen. All it takes is a memo.

        And it sort of looks like "inform criminal investigations" trumps "protect children’s interests". i.e. They are illegally here so let's send them back to Aleppo...

        1. veti Silver badge

          Re: If the police or Home Office asks, they are ALREADY legally required to.

          If, for example, the Home Secretary had decided that Home Office or Police should never ask for this data, then irrespective of the legal situation, this would not happen.

          The police and other Home Office goonscivil servants have generations of expertise, and specialist teams working 24/7 to apply it, in the specialist subject of "changing the Home Secretary's mind". That's why the National Identity Register keeps coming back from the grave - no matter how many times we think we've staked it, and regardless of which party is in power.

      3. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        If the police ask? No. if the police have a court order yes. Just because police ask doesn't give them the right to access data.

  2. Nick Leaton

    Here's another one for you.

    Hospitals pass NHS and names to the Passport office for the RON database. {The NHS number is ultra vires}

    That then goes to the ONS.

    ONS says it downloads anonymous data without names [but with NHS numbers] from hospitals.

    The ONS then claims it only has anonymised data when it has all the information to find out names and address of people with syphilis, ....

  3. adam payne Silver badge

    He said: “The data will be collected solely for internal departmental use for the analytical, statistical and research purposes. There are currently no plans to share the data with other government departments unless we are legally required to do so."

    Yeah but i'm sure you'll change your mind on that in the near future and hush it up when you do.

    1. David Pollard

      When DNA profiling was introduced, the original statute allowed its use only for checking crime stains against potential suspects. So called 'DNA trawling' and familial matches were not allowed; and the data was to be discarded as soon as comparisons had been made. However, shortly after its introduction an apparently innocuous act was passed which modified the regulations to allow records to be kept "for statistical purposes". Beyond the promoters, few MPs would have noticed.

  4. Bogle

    Lovejoy

    Won't someone please think of the children?!

    Oh, you did? Fuck, you really did.

  5. Voland's right hand Silver badge

    I was not posting it in jest

    I posted this on another thread where I pointed Junior (presently in year 10) to the bits of the Holocaust which are not taught in the British Education system.

    Specifically, that the Holocaust was not a "boom, wham, put everyone in a concentration camp". It was a nearly 8 year process prior to that when Germany, Hungary, Bulgaria, Romania set it up.

    It started by requesting that all relevant government and private companies post full statistics on the Jews they employ (1933-1934). Continued to make wearing the star of David mandatory and the houses clearly marked as well as working in any jobs for the state prohibited. And we know where it went from there.

    So, where are we:

    1. Houses clearly marked. So far only assylum seekers. How did Martin Niemöller say? They first came for the assylum seekers and painted their doors red...

    2. All companies to report employing Jews, sorry Europeans. Hello Gruppenfuhrer Rudd, check.

    3. All schools to report if educating Jews, sorry Europeans. Check

    4. Goverment to stop employing Jews, sorry Europeans in positions of importance. As mandated by the 1934 Reich Law for the Restoration of the Professional Civil Service" CHECK.

    Hmm... I really do not like where that progression is going. Probably time to cut out some yellow stars on a blue background to put on the house - I will be required to do that shortly anyway.

    1. TitterYeNot

      Re: I was not posting it in jest

      I think you might be getting a little carried away there, lets not get a vote for Brexit [by neophobic uneducated northerners who don't like them foreigners */ by anti-elitist Europeans hacked off with overstretched schools, hospitals and housing *] confused with one of the 20th century's most horrific examples of what one human being can do to another.

      Somehow I don't think non-UK nationals living here have Kristallnacht, Zyklon B showers or the ovens of Auschwitz-Birkenau to worry about...

      * Delete as appropriate depending on viewpoint.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: I was not posting it in jest

        I think you might be getting a little carried away there

        Originally I would have agreed with you, but what I have seen over that last few years in manipulation of public opinion has changed my mind. If you have arrived at a point where laws are no longer perceived as effective you are creating both a decline of human decency and a power vacuum.

        You may recall that we've had similar conditions just before WW I and WW II, but this time we have bombs that can destroy the whole planet and enough idiots who would find that acceptable collateral damage.

      2. Laura Kerr

        Re: I was not posting it in jest

        "Somehow I don't think non-UK nationals living here have Kristallnacht, Zyklon B showers or the ovens of Auschwitz-Birkenau to worry about..."

        Yet.

      3. Voland's right hand Silver badge

        Re: I was not posting it in jest

        Somehow I don't think non-UK nationals living here have Kristallnacht,

        Want to tell that to the Poles unfortunate to live in Harlow?

    2. allthecoolshortnamesweretaken

      Re: I was not posting it in jest

      Book tip: Edwin Black - IBM and the Holocaust

      "When they came for us, they had lists."

      1. Roland6 Silver badge

        Re: I was not posting it in jest

        re: Book tip

        In some ways to be expected, as the US for a long time treated the war in Europe as a business opportunity, before Churchill managed to make the US government see sense; but even so, the UK spent many decades repaying war loans to the US...

      2. Diogenes

        Re: I was not posting it in jest

        "When they came for us, they had lists."

        Which is why my "mob*" do not put their real ethnicity on census forms in Roumania.

        * Szekler

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: I was not posting it in jest

      Yes yes let's stop the UK government having any idea about who's in the country and what they are doing. Let everybody in, open up the border. That will work really well and who cares if the Islamo fascists gain an even greater foot hold. We'll all still be free won't we!? Because as ISIS has shown, they're nice people and I'm sure they wouldn't make you wear a star because they respect other faiths and cultures, honest mate ;)

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    "school census"

    I recently had to fill in the online "school census from this September" concerning my daughter. The introductory text was badly worded and gave the impression, unless you read it carefully, that one was required to answer the questions. In fact, the school is required to ask, but the parents are not required to answer. Then there were two drop-down menus. Being that sort of person, I viewed the page's source, and it was hilarious: nationality options included "Welsh", "Welshman" and "Welshwoman" (three separate options), several obscure "nationalities" appeared more than once in the list, but "English" was mysteriously missing. In both lists there was an "I'm not answering this question" option (I can't remember exactly how it was worded) but it would have been almost impossible to find it without viewing the page's source, so probably a lot of people answered the questions unnecessarily.

    If I'd been the school administrator I'd have made "I'm not answering" the default so everyone could just hit "Submit" and have done with it. Though I suppose one could have multiple "I'm not answering because..." options, just to make the results a bit more interesting...

  7. N000dles

    I'm a foreigner to this country and have been for over a decade. They already track our details and you are required to fill in enough information on the landing cards each time you cross a border that allows them enough detail to track you down. For all you out there talking about sinister plots, the data is already there in their hands.

    Here's something for you to consider.... We are about to embark on a process of negotiation around Brexit. Why shouldn't the government know the costs associated with educating EU citizens when a huge exercise around how much money should be moved around EU and UK expenditures is coming up? I think it's legitimate personally for the negotiators to know how much cost we will be left with to continue to educate students of EU citizens who are allowed to remain. The EC are very shortly going to throw the British pensioners living on the continent into the frying pan when it comes to how much it costs to access services in the EU post Brexit. These are all costs that need to be known for Brexit to be fair for taxpayers on both sides.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Never Fair

      Brexit will never be fair. No one ever said it would be fair. No one voting for Brexit wanted things to be fair. It is, to use an old phrase, a bugger's muddle. Try not to get poor or ill, it won't be good, and never trust a word coming from a government ministers mouth.

    2. This post has been deleted by its author

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    There are currently no plans

    weasel

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    The Register has asked the Department for Eduction for comment.

    Register what? It's our job!

    Sincerely (not) yours!

    DfE

    Alternatively:

    There are currently no plans to comment

  10. John Smith 19 Gold badge
    Gimp

    To put this in perspective this was *another* of Tony Blair's initiatives

    The usual TOTC hysterical BS covering the "opportunity" for a clean load of the (currently) defunct National Identity (register) scheme.

  11. Someone Else Silver badge
    FAIL

    Erm...wha'?

    Nick Gibb, minister for School Standards, covered his ass/arse by stating:

    There are currently no plans to share the data with other government departments [...]

    Run, Forrest, Run!

  12. Matt Bryant Silver badge
    Facepalm

    Who?

    ".....Jen Persson, coordinator of privacy group defenddigitalme, said: ".....This is exactly what parents and school staff are telling us from across the country that they feared......" Gosh, who knew defenddigitalme had personally spoken to every parent and teacher in the whole UK! Oh, you mean it's just another tiny activist group pretending they represent the views of the general population, in order to get a little press time? Well, I suppose we better take their word as gospel, then

    1. Ben1892

      Re: Who?

      Yep - that got me too; "Teachers are being made into border guards and secret police." tad over-dramatic don't ya think !

  13. David Pollard
    Flame

    Open note to Gracie Mae Bradley

    Madam,

    You are quoted thus: Against Borders for Children co-founder Gracie Mae Bradley added: "There is still time to resist this divisive and risky scheme".

    The time for action was back at the turn of the last century, when realisations of Blair-Blunkett-Straw control-freakery were being dreamed up and then implemented. The 'Every Child Matters' scheme set out to provide multiple government agencies with access to all data held about children. One particularly ghastly part of the programme, RYOGENS, had been promoted with claims that it could predict criminality,

    A good account was provided by Ross Anderson and colleagues at the Foundation for Information Policy Research, back in 2005/6.

    http://www.fipr.org/childrens_databases.pdf

    It won't do much good for schools not to record details of nationality. Firstly in most cases this information is likely to be easily gleaned elsewhere. Secondly, it's racial prejudice that is the problem, not a particular child's nationality. Hiding details of nationality may hide the prejudice, but if fails to deal with it.

    What is required is to have the software that is used to run the child databases open to public inspection and likewise to have the uses - who accessed that data, when and why - reliably logged, appropriately inspected and open to magisterial enquiry. Neutral and trustworthy judges, high-level civil servants and similar public figures are probably rather thin on the ground, those with an understanding of technology even more so, but their scrutiny is what's needed. Clearly it's not appropriate to make confidential information publicly available, but, equally clearly, appropriate methods are needed to ensure that when government bodies hold such information it is handled in a manner which is democratically accountable.

    The opportunity to oppose computerised collation of data, if ever there was one, passed by long ago. What we must try to do now is to ensure that the technology is used wisely.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Open note to Gracie Mae Bradley

      'The opportunity to oppose computerised collation of data, if ever there was one, passed by long ago. What we must try to do now is to ensure that the technology is used wisely.'

      Fat chance of that. Throughout history, in just about every culture and society of which I'm aware, the primary aim of the oligarchy/ruling class/governing elite/aristocracy/call it what you will/ has been to preserve its position, and that of its children, in the social order. It has always used whatever means it can get away with to do this.

      Digital data and its *cheap* collection, retention and analysis, offer contemporary oligarchies powers to preserve themselves undreamed of (well, unavailable to) 20C dictators. Of course these oligarchies will use them. Why wouldn't they?

      Almost all human societies are, and have always been, oligarchic. It's our default state; there's no point in railing against it. The problems really stem from oligarchies that have become ossified, introverted, self-seeking, and overly detached from the rest of the population. Right now this is an accurate description of the Westminster bubble, the Washington bubble, the Brussels bubble, and pretty well most Western ruling classes. Hence Brexit and Trump.

      What we need are reliable, consistent ways to refresh our oligarchies, so that revolutions are not required to refresh them. Social mobility, in other words, and in *both* directions.

      Don't look to me for ideas about how to achieve this.

  14. lukewarmdog

    Thing is, Government needs this data. How else can it blame the previous or next one for the immigration problem?

    How many times have we seen "Blair's government allowed 100k more immigrants in" and "Cameron's government has 'lost' 500k immigrants"?

    Whether the statistics are at this point meaningful in any way is anyones guess.

  15. GruntyMcPugh Silver badge

    I thought the September census was supposed to gauge the language ability of pupils for whom English was not a first language? There are stories of schools wanting to see passports or immigration documents, I think the function creep started at source.

  16. danielanthony

    'Free Stuff'

    I can see the point of doing this as:

    Schools Cost = £££

    NHS Cost = £££

    If the state is just handing these services out for free to those who should & could be paying, how is that fair? Not very progressive for those poorer members of British society to be having their allocation of state resources decreased by those with no entitlement.

    Unless we believe in the magic money tree whereby everyone can have everything because supply and demand don't really exist in the socialist mind set.

  17. EnviableOne Silver badge
    Holmes

    Its been going on for years

    10 years ago a school in South London was told to keep children of known failed asylum seekers in the school, so the Home Office could keep track of their parents. The ability to track families has been there a while.

  18. Gordon Pryra

    Yet they give this data to any BBS with a pretty front end?

    No offence, but the databases Facebook and Google hold are probably far more up to date and accurate.

    After all, the same people complaining about Government use of the data were more than willing to give far more detailed stuff to random companies they knew nothing about

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