Feeds

Sarah's Law review skewed by handpicked sample

Home Office research raises questions

Gartner critical capabilities for enterprise endpoint backup

Home Office jubilation over the "success" of its sex offender disclosure scheme may be premature amid yet more evidence of the Home Office twisting research to suit its own agenda.

That is the conclusion of sharp-eyed blogger, Hawktalk, who also questioned whether the way the scheme works in practice might create problems for wholly innocent individuals through the creation of misleading audit trails and over-zealous public officials applying the rule that "there’s no smoke without fire".

The Child Sexual Offender Review Disclosure (CSORD) – popularly referred to as "Sarah’s Law" – was piloted last year in four police forces: Hampshire, Warwickshire, Cambridge and Cleveland.

CSORD allows parents and those with responsibility for children to obtain information about the past (sexual) history of specific adults in contact with their children. Information would be provided at the discretion of the police, and those receiving it would be required to maintain what they learned in confidence. The focus is intended to be on disclosure in respect of convicted sex offenders.

A review of the scheme (pdf) by Home Office researchers was published earlier this month. The focus of the review was on the process of the CSORD – as opposed to the overall impact of the scheme – and was based on very limited data sets. According to the report:

The number of enquiries and subsequent disclosures under the scheme were smaller than initially anticipated: a total of 585 enquiries were made and 315 proceeded with as applications. Twenty-one disclosures (4% of applications) were made under the remit of the pilot with a further 11 applications resulting in non-pilot disclosures, i.e. information not relating to convictions for child sex offences.

When it came to looking at how the scheme had worked, the researchers were able to review just 159 applications – or just over half of those investigated by the police. This reduction in numbers appears to be because the police determined which cases to forward to the review body for evaluation, which raises questions about the soundness of the sampling procedure and possible bias introduced into the research by police forces.

If alarm bells were not ringing at that point, some additional concern should have been raised when it was revealed that the researchers were able to talk with just 43 of the individuals responsible for those applications. While the researchers inserted the usual caveats about concern due to sample size, the Home Office has nonetheless declared itself impressed with a scheme that is likely to make major inroads into the civil liberties of UK citizens – and signs are that they are likely to be rolling it out in future.

Hawktalk draws attention to a number of flaws in the scheme that appear not even to have crossed the researchers’ radar. Table 7 of the Home Office report shows that 54 per cent of the individuals investigated did not have access to the children named in the application. In other words, over half of the applications should have fallen at the first hurdle.

Gartner critical capabilities for enterprise endpoint backup

More from The Register

next story
'Stop dissing Google or quit': OK, I quit, says Code Club co-founder
And now a message from our sponsors: 'STFU or else'
Ex US cybersecurity czar guilty in child sex abuse website case
Health and Human Services IT security chief headed online to share vile images
Uber, Lyft and cutting corners: The true face of the Sharing Economy
Casual labour and tired ideas = not really web-tastic
Don't even THINK about copyright violation, says Indian state
Pre-emptive arrest for pirates in Karnataka
The police are WRONG: Watching YouTube videos is NOT illegal
And our man Corfield is pretty bloody cross about it
Oz biz regulator discovers shared servers in EPIC FACEPALM
'Not aware' that one IP can hold more than one Website
Apple tried to get a ban on Galaxy, judge said: NO, NO, NO
Judge Koh refuses Samsung ban for the third time
Pedals and wheel in that Google robo-car or it's off the road – Cali DMV
And insists on $5 million insurance per motor against accidents
prev story

Whitepapers

Top 10 endpoint backup mistakes
Avoid the ten endpoint backup mistakes to ensure that your critical corporate data is protected and end user productivity is improved.
Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
Backing up distributed data
Eliminating the redundant use of bandwidth and storage capacity and application consolidation in the modern data center.
The essential guide to IT transformation
ServiceNow discusses three IT transformations that can help CIOs automate IT services to transform IT and the enterprise
Next gen security for virtualised datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.