Feeds

Lobby group calls for police database access for prisons

Hopes to reduce in-custody death toll

Top three mobile application threats

Some deaths in custody could be averted if the Prison Service had access to the Police National Computer, an independent forum has said.

The Forum for Preventing Deaths in Custody says it wants a more joined-up approach between the Prison Service and police to reduce the number of deaths in custody from non-natural causes.

Publishing its first annual report, the forum has found that around 600 people die each year in custody. Although many of these deaths are through natural causes, some follow as a result of apparent suicide attempts and some from other non-natural causes. The forum believes that some of these deaths could and should have been prevented.

One practice that could help avert unnecessary deaths is improved communication between the Prison Service and police. The forum says if prison staff had access to the Police National Computer (PNC) they would be able to make better risk assessments.

"By allowing the Prison Service to enter data, the police would also be more aware of safety issues when the person concerned is next dealt with by police officers", says the report.

But differences have surfaced between the two bodies as to how and when this should happen.

A spokesperson for the Ministry of Justice refused to elaborate on these differences, but said the vast amount of sensitive data on the PNC meant that widening access to a tool that was "for the police, by the police" raised a number of issues.

She told GC News: "Dialogue is ongoing between the Prison Service and the Association of Chief Police Officers on how to improve data sharing between the police and prison services, while protecting the security of the sensitive information held."

The Prison Service currently has read-only access to limited data held on the PNC database to assist with risk assessments of individuals. An interim solution is in place for individual prisons to inform their local PNC bureau by phone or fax of any prisoner at risk of self-harm.

Forum chair John Wadham told GC News: "We believe that there are many advantages to the Prison Service having access to, and being able to add information onto, the PNC.

"We understand that there are cost implications and issues of data protection to be taken into account but, in our view, shared access to PNC could help the two organisations to communicate crucial information about an individual's risks and vulnerabilities. We will therefore continue to focus on bringing together police and Prison Service representatives to take this forward."

The work of the forum includes deaths of people in prison, police stations, immigration detention and secure mental hospitals. It also covers those who have been released from custody and are under supervision of the National Probation Service.

This article was originally published at Kablenet.

Kablenet's GC weekly is a free email newsletter covering the latest news and analysis of public sector technology. To register click here.

High performance access to file storage

More from The Register

next story
Putin tells Snowden: Russia conducts no US-style mass surveillance
Gov't is too broke for that, Russian prez says
Did a date calculation bug just cost hard-up Co-op Bank £110m?
And just when Brit banking org needs £400m to stay afloat
One year on: diplomatic fail as Chinese APT gangs get back to work
Mandiant says past 12 months shows Beijing won't call off its hackers
Lavabit loses contempt of court appeal over protecting Snowden, customers
Judges rule complaints about government power are too little, too late
MtGox chief Karpelès refuses to come to US for g-men's grilling
Bitcoin baron says he needs another lawyer for FinCEN chat
Don't let no-hire pact suit witnesses call Steve Jobs a bullyboy, plead Apple and Google
'Irrelevant' character evidence should be excluded – lawyers
EFF: Feds plan to put 52 MILLION FACES into recognition database
System would identify faces as part of biometrics collection
Ex-Tony Blair adviser is new top boss at UK spy-hive GCHQ
Robert Hannigan to replace Sir Iain Lobban in the autumn
Edward Snowden on his Putin TV appearance: 'Why all the criticism?'
Denies Q&A cameo was meant to slam US, big-up Russia
Banks slap Olympus with £160 MEEELLION lawsuit
Scandal hit camera maker just can't shake off its past
prev story

Whitepapers

Securing web applications made simple and scalable
In this whitepaper learn how automated security testing can provide a simple and scalable way to protect your web applications.
3 Big data security analytics techniques
Applying these Big Data security analytics techniques can help you make your business safer by detecting attacks early, before significant damage is done.
The benefits of software based PBX
Why you should break free from your proprietary PBX and how to leverage your existing server hardware.
Top three mobile application threats
Learn about three of the top mobile application security threats facing businesses today and recommendations on how to mitigate the risk.
Combat fraud and increase customer satisfaction
Based on their experience using HP ArcSight Enterprise Security Manager for IT security operations, Finansbank moved to HP ArcSight ESM for fraud management.