London Review Blog (hat-tip Andrew Watson):
Christmas, if you do it, is supposed to be about ‘good will toward men’. It’s from Luke 2, just before the angels appear and the shepherds head for the manger. Every year fair numbers of people manage a gesture that rises to the occasion. Still, in a humbug mood you can imagine the card that says ‘Tiny Tim’s still on crutches. Have a good one’ or ‘This Christmas I’ll be eating for higher sea levels’ or ‘We’ve introduced ID cards for foreign nationals. Season’s Greetings.’ Did I say imagine? Here’s the Christmas card the UK Border Agency has been sending out to, among others, lawyers and charities working with asylum seekers and refugees. Run your eye up and down the pretty tree to find ‘controlling the flow of migration’ or ‘biometric fingerprinting for visa applicants’ etc (you can click on it for a larger image).
(hat-tip Andrew Watson)
I’m reading the response and will update this post as I wade through it.
So far it can be summed up as “The Government doesn’t do anything wrong.”
I have that familiar but confusing sensation of being simultaneously amused and slightly frustrated.
Their comments on the effectiveness of the DNA database and eBorders are cases in point: there are no stats relating to convictions but examples of individual cases are, as usual, held up as proof that these are worthwhile, necessary and proportionate systems to have.
The ‘Database State’ report suggested that there was ‘little evidence of effectiveness’ of UKBA systems. However, the following case studies illustrate some of the benefits of e-Borders and outline some of the different ways the data can be used: [synopsis of three cases]
That’s it! There is nothing else offered to refute the claim that there is “little evidence of effectiveness”. Nothing. Possibly because there is little evidence of effectiveness.
The [Database State] report also noted ‘the growing public opposition to ID cards’ as part of the explanation for a red rating but there was no reference to support this suggestion – the majority of public opinion polls over the past five years have shown that the majority of people support identity cards and recent research has shown a consistent level of support for the National Identity Scheme of around 60%.
OK, it appears to be a bit remiss of the authors of Database State not to substantiate their claim here. But it seems to me any follower of the polls would, if he is honest, suggest there does indeed appear to be growing opposition to and declining support for ID cards.
Plot, for example, the results made available in table form by Polling Report:
What I hope you can see (and I’m sorry if it isn’t clear enough, do let me know) is that I’ve plotted the results of the polls over time for TNS/Home Office polls. Looking at a particular poll result over time – the result for ‘support ID cards’, for example. This is the pink line, to which I have added a dotted red line to show the linear trend. It is clearly in decline over time. Look too at the cyan (light blue) line, which represents the Home Office poll’s result for ‘oppose ID cards’. The dotted turquoise line represents the linear trend. Opposition is clearly growing over time. And remember, this is the Home Office’s own poll.
And have a look at the TNS report from June 2009:
Support for the service has decreased this wave, with only 56% agreeing strongly or slightly with the plan. This continues the general downtrend in levels of support over time.
The results for ICM/NO2ID polls tell a similar story: decline in support, growth in opposition.
(Note: the ballpark percentages for and against differ between the polls because of the different methodology – there is a much closer gap in the ICM/NO2ID results. Also, I haven’t plotted ‘don’t know’ or ‘undecided’)
Incidentally, TNS/Home Office changed the methodology of their poll since (and including) their February poll. They inserted this new question:
Q.1a How concerned or worried are you about protecting yourself against identity theft?
Before this question:
Q.1 Are you aware of the Government introducing a national identity scheme, which includes the Identity Card?
This could explain the jump in support (regardless, support remains in decline).
That was an attendee in relation to torture.
I felt that when I was listening to Tariq Sadiq speaking in this debate at about 42 mins in.
A television programme about police community support officers (PCSOs) funded by the Home Office broke broadcasting rules, the communications watchdog said today.
Ofcom said two series of Beat: Life on the Street, which were paid for by the taxpayer and screened on ITV, was “promotional”.
The programmes, which cost £800,000, followed officers in Lancashire and Oxford.
Viewers complained the credits should have made it clear the programme was funded by the Government.
A Home Office spokesman said: “We acted in good faith and are disappointed [there's that word again!] that Ofcom believe that we were not transparent with our sponsorship and that the product was too closely associated with the sponsor.
“On behalf of Government, the Central Office of Information (COI) has requested a meeting with Ofcom to seek further advice and clarification regarding the regulations and determine the best way forward for the public sector.”
Ofcom did clear the programme from the point of view of sponsor influence, saying that the programme makers had been careful to retain editorial control.
‘Beat: Life on the Street’s two series received £800,000 in funding from the Home Office after the programme was conceived by its media agency Manning Gottlieb OMD.
It was one of a number of government-funded programmes that hit the headlines last year for a perceived lack of transparency over their sponsorship.
Government AFPs [Government Funded Programme] have proved controversial, as they appear indistinguishable from regular shows. Last August, it was revealed that the Government has spent almost £2m on AFPs. In September, Sky handed back £400,000 of funding to the Home Office to ensure that documentary series, UK Border Force, was “wholly independent”.