John Lettice is less than impressed with the UK government's latest planned big database.
"The UK Government today announces plans for a massive data, security and privacy own goal, in the shape of the Safeguarding Vulnerable Groups Bill. The Bill, which is intended to widen and centralise the vetting of people working with children (approximately 8 million individuals), will allow (indeed, compel) employers, including parents hiring nannies and childminders, to check the records of potential employees online.
The production of the centralised (with "real time" updating) list will be a mega IT challenge of itself. Several overlapping lists (including List 99 for education, the Sex Offenders Register and the Protection of Children Act lists) currently exist, and the task of merging them leaves plenty of scope for the usual delays and disasters...
Some considerable time will however elapse before the new converged, real-time register of everything ships. The DfES tells us that would be employees "will apply to the CRB [Criminal Records Bureau] for a vetting and barring report. The police will provide the CRB with relevant information, including convictions and cautions so that the new independent body can make a barring decision... Applications will start the process of continuous monitoring of police information about the individual, allowing the barring decision to be changed if any new information comes to light."
The "new independent body" will be a panel set up to take the blame, er, make the decisions over who is on the list and who is not. Its ability to do so, however, hinges on the police's ability to supply the "relevant information" and to keep it up to date in real time. In order to do this, the police need to have the IMPACT (Information Management, Prioritisation, Analysis, Co-ordination and Tasking) police information sharing programme fully implemented, and this (see Spy Blog for analysis (http://www.spy.org.uk/spyblog/2005/11/bichard_inquiry_recommendation.html)) was recently put back from 2007 to 2010. "
Update: Further details at Spy Blog.