Free Britain

Council spies using DVLA database for ‘environmental crimes’

One of the issues with government controlled databases is the potential for abuse. You should assume your privacy is now gone the minute some personal data of yours ends up on one of one of their systems.

Source: Daily Mail

Town hall snoopers obtained the details of more than 270,000 motorists from the DVLA database last year in a bid to trap people for ‘environmental crimes’.

The officials wanted to link car owners via their number plates to offences such as littering, dog fouling and noisy stereos.

Critics say the scale of the inquiries is a ‘terrifying’ example of the lurch towards a Big Brother society.

Councils were originally given 24-hour access to the DVLA’s huge database, via a computer link called the Web Enabled Enquiry System (WEES), to make it easier to trace the owners of abandoned cars.

But a document produced by the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs reveals this access has recently been ‘enhanced’ to allow authorised council staff to police environmental crimes.

The DVLA said WEES was accessed last year by a total of 271,563 by local councils – at the rate of more than 700 checks every day.

North Cornwall District Council used the system in an attempt to trace somebody suspected of horse fouling. Test Valley Council in Hampshire used it in a graffiti inquiry, while Chorley Council in Cheshire used it to check on the owner of a car leaking petrol in a car park.

Bexley Council in London checked the system 44 times last year to trace people illegally advertising cars for sale in the street. Other councils have used the system in an attempt to trace the owners of out of control dogs, bogus callers and benefit cheats.

This is a variation of function creep. The process of a system, initially being used for one thing, gradually expanding its scope. It always happens with government system. Always. Next they will be using this system to identify potential dissidents.

Shadow Local Government Secretary Eric Pickles said: ‘State intrusion is becoming the norm not the exception as we witness the slow death of our privacy.

‘We never condone breaking the law and recognise the need for tough measures to tackle the wave of violent crime sweeping the country. What we don’t need is the systematic abuse of state powers by town halls – there must be a proportionate use of powers that fit the offence’. [must include]

Phil Booth, of the NO2ID campaign, said of the DVLA database: ‘ This is incredible and terrifying. What we are seeing are powers which are brought in for one purpose being abused time and again for relatively minor offences.

‘This is massively disproportionate. I don’t think it is reasonable or proportionate to expose the names of every driver in the country to potentially hundreds or thousands of people.’

There has also been past controversy over the use of the information held by the DVLA database, which all vehicle owners are legally obliged to supply with name, address and driving licence details.

The government was forced to tighten the data access rules after the DVLA revealed it made £6.3m from selling access to the names and addresses of motorists to private sector companies such as wheel clampers, bailiffs and debt collection agencies.

Making money off of your information by selling it to the private sector. Just like a commodity. Does that sound like a government who puts the interests of its master first?


1 Comment so far
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Nice article. Wish I had written it first!

This is a typical Bully Britain example of the way the privacy of the many is compromised in order to fine / tax the minority of miscreants.

It should be shocking, but this sort of behaviour by the authorities is common place these days.

… Talkjack

Comment by talkjack

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