On Part 1
Serious crime prevention orders were discussed previously on this blog.
The Committee on the Constitution is quoted in the debate as saying that,
A broad question for the House is whether the use of civil orders in an attempt to prevent serious criminal activity is a step too far in the development of preventative orders. Whether or not the trend towards greater use of preventative civil orders is constitutionally legitimate (a matter on which we express doubt), we take the view that SCPOs represent an incursion into the liberty of the subject and constitute a form of punishment that cannot be justified in the absence of a criminal conviction.
Lord Lloyd of Berwick made a good point on the issue that judges will make the orders:
People on the fringes of crime who are thought to have been involved are entitled to the verdict of a jury one way or another. What is not tolerable is for that question of fact—because it is a question of fact—to be decided by a judge. It is not what judges are for. In criminal cases and quasi criminal cases, it is the jury which decides disputed issues of fact and not the judge.
Lord Goodhart (chairman of Justice) made the point that,
The Government say that all this is okay because SCPOs will be made by judges who will act reasonably; they will be aware of the impact of the Human Rights Act and will apply it. That is true, but it is not an answer. We should not create laws which enlarge the scope for injustice and rely on the judiciary to apply them with moderation. What we want are just laws, not the just application of unjust laws.
On Part 3
It is well worth reading the debate to get more information on the data sharing and matching (or data mining) aspect of the draft Bill, which I have not seen described in detail by the mainstream media.
The Bill says,
The [Audit] Commission may conduct data matching exercises or arrange for them to be conducted on its behalf. A data matching exercise is an exercise involving the comparison of sets of data to determine how far they match (including the identification of any patterns and trends).
The Commission may require any body mentioned in subsection (2), and any officer or member of such a body, to provide the Commission or a person acting on its behalf with such data (and in such form) as the Commission or that person may reasonably require for the purpose of conducting data matching exercises.
The Information Commissioner’s warning, that we are sleepwalking into a surveillance society, seems very prescient today.
Government claims to have made £13.3bn in efficiency savings carry a “significant risk of inaccuracy”, the public spending watchdog has warned.
Ministers are halfway through a three-year programme to save £21.5bn and say they have achieved 62% of this.
But the National Audit Office (NAO) said departments had “more to do to show that all reported gains are both genuine and sustainable”.
The NAO said 51% of total departmental savings claims had “some measurement issues and uncertainties”.
Meanwhile, 23% “either do not yet demonstrate efficiency or the reported gains may be substantially incorrect”.
Comptroller General Sir John Bourn – head of the NAO – said just 26% of the reported efficiency savings “fairly represent efficiencies made”.
Some newspapers are reporting that the media was anonymously briefed by ‘Whitehall sources’ on the alleged plot to kidnap, torture and behead Muslim soldiers.
The Guardian from earlier this week for example,
Police investigating the alleged plot to abduct and behead a Muslim soldier expressed growing anger yesterday at a series of leaks and briefings which they say are hampering their inquiry.
Whitehall officials briefed journalists early on Wednesday before all of the suspects had been found, with the result that lurid details of the alleged plot were broadcast while one suspect remained at large. At least one tabloid newspaper had even been tipped off the night before the dawn raids, and its reporters put on standby to race to Birmingham.
Why did “Whitehall officials” ‘anonymously’ brief the media about an ongoing police investigation?
Shurely it’s not an attempt to distract the public’s attention from a certain other ongoing police investigation?
Oh, and it comes in a week when the Government is once again proposing 90 day detention without charge.
Widespread reports (proving at least that the press and opposition parties can speed read executive summaries) damn the Identity & Passport Service for only securing a two year warranty for a product with a ten year lifespan. Ah, but that’s by no means the only thing about the project that’s broken.
The National Audit Office report on the introduction of biometric passports, aka ePassports, is favourable in that it notes that the project came in on budget and on time. But the report nevertheless paints a picture of a project that hasn’t been particularly well planned, and that faces numerous potential pitfalls as it develops. The warranty on the chip is just one of the problems – but it’s a good place for us to start…
Read the article, it’s fairly shocking.