Shoddy detective work
A report that suggests a quarter of public sector databases are illegal under human rights or data protection laws has been criticised for inconsistencies and a lack of evidence.
Database State was published this week by the Joseph Rowntree Reform Trust. The report assesses 46 databases across major government departments and suggests ten – including the national DNA database (NDNAD) – should be “scrapped or substantially redesigned”.
The report was criticised by Peter Neyroud, the chief executive of the National Policing Improvement Agency (NPIA), which manages the main police databases. Mr Neyroud said: “The report contains a number of inaccuracies and contradictions. It fails to mention the Police National Computer at all …
Back to Neyroud:
“The NDNAD detects a disproportionate number of serious crimes”
In fact the report says,
there is serious doubt about its effectiveness: doubling the number of people on the database from about 2m to about 4m has not increased the proportion of crimes solved using DNA, which remains steady at about 1 in 300. Indeed, in 2007 the number actually fell slightly.
Back to Neyroud,
“and to suggest that it should be scrapped is ludicrous.”
In fact the report does not suggest it should be scrapped. It says,
Red means that a database is almost certainly illegal under human rights or data protection law and should be scrapped or substantially redesigned.
For all but the most serious offences (sexual and violent offences), data must be forgotten after an appropriate period.
And given the European Court of Human Rights said it is currently unlawful, it seems implicit the database must be changed to make it lawful.