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NCJRS Abstract

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NCJ Number: 76534 Find in a Library
Title: Society Under Surveillance (From Policing the Police, Volume 2, P 65-150, 1980, Peter Hain, ed. - See NCJ-76532)
Author(s): D Campbell
Date Published: 1980
Page Count: 88
Sponsoring Agency: John Calder, Ltd
London, W1R 4A5, England
Sale Source: John Calder, Ltd
18 Brewer Street
London, W1R 4A5,
United Kingdom
Language: English
Country: United Kingdom
Annotation: The major British police projects in information and intelligence gathering are examined, and the circumstances in which they have developed and how they are likely to develop in the future are considered, with particular attention to their threats to privacy.
Abstract: The major computer project examined is the Police National Computer; other law enforcement information systems examined are the system of the 'C' (criminal) Department of the Metropolitan Police, The Collator Project operated by the Thames Valley Police, and the British Army computer system in Northern Ireland. Developments in these systems show a common pattern. Low level officials begin the systematic recording of information which they wish to keep. This system is turned into a manual record index, and eventually a decision is made to place the whole system on a computer. Some time after the decision to computerize records has been made, a public announcement will note that citizens need not be alarmed, as the information has always been available on manual records. In no case has public discussion of police computers been full and frank. In these systems, privacy is most often threatened, not by the bulk of the entries, but by 'footnotes,' such as the 'warning' that a particular person may make a complaint about the police or is associated with a particular organization. A major remedy for including privacy-threatening information would be disclosure, whereby any person could examine records to make certain they do not contain information other than that claimed by the police. This would encourage the purging of out-of-date information or gossip. There has been strong opposition to such disclosure under claims that it would endanger the intelligence-gathering enterprise. Legislation could be devised that would permit the disclosure of some information while protecting the confidentiality of legitimate intelligence data. Notes, a chart, and several tables are provided.
Index Term(s): Great Britain/United Kingdom; Legislation; Police information systems; Police records; Privacy and security
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