There was a time when a police officer on the beat could solve a minor disturbance in a public place, or between neighbours when tempers are rising on a hot summer's night, simply by having a quiet word with all parties involved and giving out a few warnings.
Today's topsy turvy world of policing involves arresting everyone in sight simply to get another DNA record on a discredited database and asking questions later. With this dogged approach the police are throwing pages of caution, written by our legislators into the Police and Criminal Evidence Act (PACE), into the wind. Rather than the sensible ideas behind 'Community Policing' officers are today forced to abandon any common sense and turn citizens against them by making unnecessary humiliating and stigmatising public arrests and then spending hours writing reports in triplicate about this waste of public resources.
Let's enable Police Officers to use common sense and discretion again. Let's call the APCO lobby ( note: a private company, not answerable to Freedom of Information legislation) to account for being an illegal IT lobby hell bent on selling more data base systems in which data protection principles are flouted and Human rRghts to a private live are breached on a daily basis. Note that the UK government was convicted over this mis-use in the Case S. and Marper on December 4th 2008 in the ECHR in Strassburg.
Why is this idea important?
This idea will make our police force both more effective and respected. Jails will be less crowded. The second and third principle of the Data protection Act 1998 state crystal clear:
2) Personal data shall be obtained only for one or more specified and lawful purposes, and shall not be further processed in any manner incompatible with that purpose or those purposes.
3) Personal data shall be adequate, relevant and not excessive in relation to the purpose or purposes for which they are processed.
APCO should stop lobbying the home office to pass obscure laws 'in committee' that allow police and other security services to break laws the rest of us are meant to respect.
The Crime and Security Act 2010 c.17 rushed through in the dying days of parliament ,using pure blackmail by the former home secretary Alan Johnson, is a good example of a law that should be repealed and drawn up again following the Scottish model with regard to DNA detention. When police will treat citizens with respect, they will be rewarded with respect.