Data Protection expert Dr Chris Pounder of Amberhawk Training has issued a warning with regards to possible CCTV and DNA legislation being snuck in before the general election. Pounder's latest article ('Labour positions itself on DNA retention and more CCTV', Hawktalk 25/3/10) warns:
Labour's political strategy is being run in Parliament at the moment. For example, the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Justice (Claire Ward) told the Conservative front bench: "the Conservatives would do better, given that they want to tie the hands of the police and crime enforcement officers in relation to many of the measures that we are using effectively, such as those involving DNA and CCTV". At a recent Prime Ministerís Questions Gordon Brown said: "If he would support us on CCTV and DNA, we might be more able to catch criminals at the right time and in the right place".
Quite clearly a counter argument on the lines: "Most CCTV doesnít do the job effectively" or "six year retention of DNA personal data on the innocent is a step too far" [...] is going to need an explanation which is likely to be far too nuanced for tabloid headlines in the run up to an Election.
Bills before parliament cannot be carried forward between parliaments. So when a General Election is called all Bills not passed on the date when parliament is dissolved are lost. To get around this politicians use something called the "wash-up" whereby the major parties horse-trade over legislation that has not yet made it all the way through the parliamentary procedure. A recent House of Commons Library paper on 'The Dissolution of Parliament' states that: "There is generally a few days between the announcement of an election and subsequent dissolution of Parliament", it goes on:
During this interval, usually referred to as the "wash-up" period, which might only be a few days (but possibly longer) the Government will decide what its priorities are and seek the co-operation the Opposition in getting legislation through. In doing so there will invariably be sacrifices to be made. Some Bills might be lost completely, others might be progressed quickly but in a much-shortened form. A lot will depend on where the Bills are in the legislative process and whether or not they are controversial
Over the last few years there have been several moves to treat CCTV evidence as a forensic science. In 2008 the government introduced the Policing and Crime Bill which originally contained proposals to give powers to the Home Secretary to introduce regulations relating to the retention, use and destruction of DNA, fingerprints and CCTV/ANPR images. The proposed powers were criticised by Pounder in his evidence to the Joint Committee on Human Rights. The measures were dropped from the Bill which was passed at the end of the last parliamentary session in November 2009.
In the current parliamentary session the government introduced the Crime and Security Bill which contains reworked but still deeply flawed proposals with regard to retention of DNA samples in the National DNA Database, though it current;y does not contain the explicit CCTV/ANPR retention proposals that were contained in the Policing and Crime Bill.
Pounder warns that proposals on DNA and CCTV could "come into being without too much questioning on the detail. Yet, getting to the correct privacy balance needs analysis of such detail".
- [ 1] - http://amberhawk.typepad.com/amberhawk/2010/03/labour-positions-itself-on-dna-retention-and-more-cctv.html
- [ 2] - http://www.parliament.uk/commons/lib/research/briefings/snpc-05085.pdf
- [ 3] - http://services.parliament.uk/bills/2008-09/policingandcrime.html
- [ 4] - http://www.amberhawk.com/uploads/Evidence_JCHR_DNAdatabase.pdf
- [ 5] - http://services.parliament.uk/bills/2009-10/crimeandsecurity.html