Tuesday, October 8, 2013

RSPCA access to Police National Computer

News stories about RSPCA access to the PNC earlier this year implied that inspectors might be trawling computer records looking for sensitive information in order to harrass people. 

It was originally an exclusive by online computing journal, The Register—I suspect as a result of information supplied by the pseudonymous Richard Martin who made a large number of Freedom of Information requests about provision of data to the RSPCA before the police got fed up and told him any more would be treated as "vexatious".

The Register, had enough computer savvy to write FOI requests in a form that would get some answers and, following their initial scoop, they obviously hoped a bit more digging would produce something really exciting.

Their reporter's application reads:
"Dear The Association of Chief Police Officers of England, Wales and Northern Ireland,

I wish to see some examples of information disclosed to the RSPCA
under the SLA you have with them.

Specifically I wish to see details of the first ten disclosures to
the RSPCA of information from the PNC. Obviously this will need to
be redacted to remove specific personal information and any
specific information likely to prejudice an ongoing case. But I
wish to know the detailed nature of the kind data in practice sent
to the RSPCA. For information that is redacted please ensure that
the description of the information (e.g. "previous address",
"occupation") remains. Please disclose where possible the actual
emails (suitably redacted) to and from the RSPCA in relation to
these ten cases.

Yours faithfully,

Ken Tindell"
If you compare this with the earlier applications you can see why it got a response; Ken Tindell is clearly rational and non-obsessive; he's after another exclusive, but he's not going to go on and on.

Sadly, the result is not news; RSPCA access to the PNC is done in exactly the way ACPO said it was back in August. There's no trawling; simply a notification from the RSPCA when they are about to prosecute someone and a request for creation of a record in the PNC with disclosure of previous offences. Precisely because this is not news it will never get the same publicity as the first round of media claims.

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