Feeds

Lobby group calls for police database access for prisons

Hopes to reduce in-custody death toll

Intelligent flash storage arrays

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.

Internet Security Threat Report 2014

More from The Register

next story
Doctor Who's Flatline: Cool monsters, yes, but utterly limp subplots
We know what the Doctor does, stop going on about it already
Facebook, Apple: LADIES! Why not FREEZE your EGGS? It's on the company!
No biological clockwatching when you work in Silicon Valley
'Cowardly, venomous trolls' threatened with TWO-YEAR sentences for menacing posts
UK government: 'Taking a stand against a baying cyber-mob'
Happiness economics is bollocks. Oh, UK.gov just adopted it? Er ...
Opportunity doesn't knock; it costs us instead
Ex-US Navy fighter pilot MIT prof: Drones beat humans - I should know
'Missy' Cummings on UAVs, smartcars and dying from boredom
Sysadmin with EBOLA? Gartner's issued advice to debug your biz
Start hoarding cleaning supplies, analyst firm says, and assume your team will scatter
Zippy one-liners, broken promises: Doctor Who on the Orient Express
Series finally hits stride, but Clara's U-turn is baffling
prev story

Whitepapers

Forging a new future with identity relationship management
Learn about ForgeRock's next generation IRM platform and how it is designed to empower CEOS's and enterprises to engage with consumers.
Why cloud backup?
Combining the latest advancements in disk-based backup with secure, integrated, cloud technologies offer organizations fast and assured recovery of their critical enterprise data.
Win a year’s supply of chocolate
There is no techie angle to this competition so we're not going to pretend there is, but everyone loves chocolate so who cares.
High Performance for All
While HPC is not new, it has traditionally been seen as a specialist area – is it now geared up to meet more mainstream requirements?
Intelligent flash storage arrays
Tegile Intelligent Storage Arrays with IntelliFlash helps IT boost storage utilization and effciency while delivering unmatched storage savings and performance.