Necessity Still Breeds Ingenuity - Archive of SQUALL MAGAZINE 1992-2006

News Shorts And Other Busyness

New Database On Police Malpractice

Squall 11, Autumn 1995, pg. 5.

The police are to get a taste of their own medicine after losing a bid to ban a new computer company from running a police malpractice database service for lawyers.

The Defendants Information Services (DIS) was set up by former civil rights campaigner with the Hackney Community Defence Association, Russell Miller, and a solicitor from the London- based firm of Birnberg & Co.

The database currently has information on more than 1,000 officers mostly in the London area, although the service plans to expand nationally. The Metropolitan Police and two other county forces made representations to the Data Protection Registry arguing that the information contained on the DIS database was ‘unlawful’ and in contravention of the Data Protection Act. The registry officer dealing with the case, Neil Marshal, said: “They were very concerned about the basic idea of keeping tabs on police officers for later legal use. But their objections were very non-specific. I cast around for a statute or common law principle that they [DIS] might be breaking and I couldn’t see there was one.” John Burrows, Chief Constable of Essex and Chairman of the Association of Chief Police Officers data protection working group, also made an attempt to prevent the setting up of the database, all to no avail.

The Defendant’s Information Service now means that criminal and malpractice actions taken by the police will be ‘noted on record’ as are the indiscretions conducted by the rest of the population.