back to article Channel Isles cop sacked after abusing police database to track down women drivers for Instagram 'comic' page

A police constable has been sacked after reportedly tracking down young women motorists through their car numberplates and propositioning them on social media. Stephen Woods, formerly of Guernsey Police, was dismissed from the Channel Island’s local force after searching for their car registration details to find their names …

  1. Version 1.0 Silver badge
    Unhappy

    It illustrates the problem

    Essentially, how does someone like that think that they should be in the police force? And how did they get the job in the first place? The problem is not the police - it's the corporate police management who are not doing their jobs and not bothering creating a decent working environment where not being evil is the most important factor.

    1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

      Re: It illustrates the problem

      >Essentially, how does someone like that think that they should be in the police force?

      Blackadder:

      He's a violent, bigoted, mindless fool.

      Prince George:

      Sounds a bit over-qualified. Well, get him here at once.

    2. LucasNorth

      Re: It illustrates the problem

      the police are just a reflection of society therefore they are filled with bad and useless people

      1. Psmo
        Mushroom

        Re: It illustrates the problem

        Dude, warn people when you do that.

        My cynycism detector just developed a small, um, fault. Can you send a replacement to the usual address? Ta.

    3. Falmari Silver badge
      Flame

      Re: It illustrates the problem

      The problem it illustrates is our private data is not safe and never can be. It will always get out there to be misused if it is collated and stored no matter what checks and balances are in place.

      I am not saying registration numbers and the owners address should not be stored and accessible to the police. I am referring to the drive of the state to collect more and more information from cameras to browsing history on the public who have not actually committed a crime. Any data stored has to be accessible by someone and if it is accessible it is not safe.

      Now its bad enough the state collects and stores this data. But to allow private companies like Google and Facebook to name just a few to do this and profile you, this should be illegal.

      If you have nothing to hide you have nothing to fear, total bollocks. Everybody has something to hide not just villains.

  2. Fruit and Nutcase Silver badge
    Joke

    Phwoar! Cop that chick!

    Joking aside, even the excuse offered does imply he did not understand the trust placed and expected of him due to the position he held

    1. Fruit and Nutcase Silver badge
      IT Angle

      Re: Phwoar! Cop that chick!

      Did his beat include patrolling the sun-kissed sandy beaches of the Island?

      https://regmedia.co.uk/2007/06/06/asus_eeepc_2.jpg

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Mobile phone data

    Penalty included "the destruction of his mobile phone"

    Including all the local/cloud backups? Not mentioned, so I guess there's no legal way to order that?

  4. LucasNorth

    this idiot should be in prison

    1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

      Instead he will be moved to another force and promoted

      1. Peter Clarke 1

        Worst Choice

        We're short of one officer here in Cambridgeshire. One was sacked for swapping the bar codes of a carrot and a box of doughnuts. Not sure which one is worse

        1. DJV Silver badge

          Re: Worst Choice

          Carrots, definitely! Can't stand 'em!

        2. Fruit and Nutcase Silver badge

          Re: Worst Choice

          He should have stuck to the carrot - instead, quite rightly, he got the stick

        3. Fruit and Nutcase Silver badge
          Coat

          Re: Worst Choice

          Eh, What's Up DocCop?

          That's All Folks!

        4. onemark03 Bronze badge

          Re: Worst Choice

          Are the Cambridgeshire Police that desperate for staff?

  5. The Axe

    Police Abusing Powers

    It's surprising how many police constables end up with a criminal record. They are supposed to work to a high standard, but they are usually at a moral standard below the average person. See the YouTube channel "Police Abusing Powers" for many many other examples of police abusing their authority and the law.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Meh

      Re: Police Abusing Powers

      See the YouTube channel "Police Abusing Powers" for many many other examples of police abusing their authority and the law.

      And see the Stanford Prison Experiment for why.

      1. jake Silver badge

        Re: Police Abusing Powers

        SPE has been discredited as unscientific ... and in fact, there have been many attempts to recreate the Stanford results with more rigorous scientific methodology. All failed.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Meh

          Re: Police Abusing Powers

          It is more correct to say that some of its findings are controversial, since there is not a consensus amongst research psychologists. The main issue is that the study was done once, terminated early and can never be repeated in an academic setting, at least in a civilized country, because ethical approval is now mandatory for human experimentation in academia. Consequently criticisms cannot be addressed by repeating it with a modified protocol.

          Recent attempts to emulate it have been geared towards things like reality TV etc which don't require ethical approval, and lack scientific rigour since their goal is entertainment, for example this one. Incidentally, this particular emulation was also stopped because of the effect on participants.

          But you don't really need a psychology experiment to observe that if one group of people is given more or less limitless power over another group of people without adequate oversight, then the results are often unpleasant. Particularly as square pegs gravitate towards square holes when it comes to making career decisions. See the torture and prisoner abuse by members of the US 372nd Military Police Company in Abu Ghraib for a relatively recent example.

          1. Claptrap314 Silver badge

            Re: Police Abusing Powers

            Heck, I would look at the behavior of almost any legislative body in the "free world", these days...

          2. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

            Re: Police Abusing Powers

            >The main issue is that the study was done once, terminated early and can never be repeated in an academic setting

            Or that it was done by a group of 1960s Californian students who were told that the purpose of the experiment was to show how brutal prison was in order to force reform.

            It's like having a group of CND campaigners in an experiment demonstrate that they would be willing to use nukes in a war game - and so we must ban them.

      2. Ian Johnston Silver badge

        Re: Police Abusing Powers

        The Stanford Prison experiment proved and proves nothing, except that one particular group of people behaved in one particular way on one particular occasion. That psychology affords it the slightest credibility shows why the who field has a catastrophic replication crisis.

        1. This post has been deleted by its author

  6. jake Silver badge

    It may sound more than just a trifle Juvenal, but ...

    ... I gotta ask: Quis custodiet ipsos custodes?

    1. Falmari Silver badge

      Re: It may sound more than just a trifle Juvenal, but ...

      Nice one "Who watches the watchers?"

      1. lglethal Silver badge
        Joke

        Re: It may sound more than just a trifle Juvenal, but ...

        I dont know. Coast guard?

        (we need a Homer Icon)

      2. JJKing
        Facepalm

        Re: It may sound more than just a trifle Juvenal, but ...

        Or, "Who polices the police who police the police?"

    2. Throatwarbler Mangrove Silver badge
      Happy

      Re: It may sound more than just a trifle Juvenal, but ...

      Great, you sound like a real Comedian, jake.

  7. Mike 137 Silver badge

    Data Protetion Act?

    "In the mainland UK, his behaviour would have been in breach of the Data Protection Act 2018."

    In the UK, his police department could (probably would) have been found to be in breach of the DPA 2018 on the basis of failure to protect the data from misuse (insufficient organisational measures), but as he was apparently acting as an individual, not as an independent business, DPA 2018 might well not apply to him directly as it could be argued that his activities were performed "in the course of a purely personal [...] activity". He could, however, have been charged under the Computer Misuse Act, a piece of legislation that has been far too infrequently brought to bear ever since it was first enacted.

    1. Blazde Silver badge

      Re: Data Protetion Act?

      Regarding CMA (and unlike the recent drama in the US) the situation is roughly that authorised access being abused for unauthorised purposes isn't covered by the act and the precedent is almost an carbon copy of this case involving police, numberplates and creepin: https://swarb.co.uk/director-of-public-prosecutions-v-bignell-and-another-qbd-6-jun-1997/

      The judges in that case apparently said the (weaker 1984) DPA should have been used instead. The 'purely personal or household activity' exemption relates to *processing* of data (and anyway I think only of general data, not the separate category of law enforcement data). I don't think it's an exemption from the obtaining data offences. It's probably also arguable that abusing a work database using authorisation give to someone in a professional role isn't a purely personal activity.

      Certainly you'd hope the ICO would go after police force for allowing it to happen though.

      1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

        Re: Data Protetion Act?

        Neither the DPA or the CMU act would apply in this case, because they are what we call 'laws' and he is a police officer

    2. Hedders

      Re: Data Protetion Act?

      Sorry to play the pedant, but this isn't right. While the force may well have also breached GDPR/UK GDPR/DPA '18, there is also a specific offence under s170 of the DPA '18 of obtaining personal data without the permission of the data controller (likely the force in this case), which is what the article refers to. Conversely, the Computer Misuse Act 1990 probably wouldn't apply since the officer in question was authorised to use the system, and the essence of the offences under that Act is _unauthorised_ access, rather than abuse of access which _is_ authorised.

  8. Blackjack Silver badge

    Maybe you should not use "PC" to describe a person on a site that does have news about technology and computers?

    I know the term might be correct but... well is still a bit funny.

    1. Ian Johnston Silver badge

      It's PC gone mad, I tell you.

      1. Blazde Silver badge

        Pedantic Copyediting?

    2. Imhotep Silver badge

      But I believe the term is Politically Correct.

    3. diodesign (Written by Reg staff) Silver badge

      PC

      Well, the article does kick off with "A police constable" so we kinda thought that would set the stage. But fine, we can do officer or something.

      C.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: PC

        > we can do officer or something.

        Just spell it out in full.

      2. Claptrap314 Silver badge
  9. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Punishment

    Are phone executions public in Guernsey?

  10. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Guernsey Defence

    Pull the wool over the prosecutor’s eyes!

  11. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Whoa! Bit harsh

    Perk of the job, innit.

  12. anonymous boring coward Silver badge

    “The system was based on trust.”

    Hilarious!

  13. Grease Monkey Silver badge

    Trust based? So the number plate system was trust based. In other words there was no reasonable security. It's not just the plod who need the boot for this, it's the person who manages that system.

  14. bonkers
    Coat

    seems to be all down to one bad apple..

    > separate figures revealed that one police staffer is disciplined every three days for misusing official IT systems for private purposes.

    - so, why don't they sack him?

    1. lglethal Silver badge
      Trollface

      Re: seems to be all down to one bad apple..

      Well as it turns out, he's the only one who knows how to use the system...

      1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

        Re: seems to be all down to one bad apple..

        Apparently you can only login with a funny handshake

  15. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Punishment

    Should be to have *all* his electronic devices shredded including laptop, Playstation etc.

    1. Brad Ackerman
      Trollface

      Re: Punishment

      Carl Showalter has some useful suggestions.

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