Almost three million criminal record checks were carried out in England and Wales last year, amounting to one person in 20 having their backgrounds examined, a FoIA reveals.
A Freedom of Information Act request obtained by Big Brother Watch revealed that councils, companies and scout groups were among more than 2,000 organisations that ran the checks. Nick Pickles, from Big Brother Watch said: “The checks have already been shown to brand innocent people as criminals and cost people their jobs for totally unrelated incidents that would not suggest they pose a risk.”
The Government has outlined plans to reform the system of checks, saying it was time to return to a more common sense approach.
Nick Clegg, the Deputy Prime Minister, said last February the current system would be scaled back so that only those working most closely with children or vulnerable adults would need to undergo the checks. The government said results would also be transferred when people change jobs, cutting down on bureaucracy.
The changes were outlined in the Protection of Freedoms Bill, which aims to scale back state powers.
Mr. Pickle, the pressure group’s director said: “For nearly three million people to be checked in just one year is remarkable. Given just how many organisations now have access to the system, there is a clear risk that it is easy to delve into someone’s private life and run a CRB check without them ever knowing.” He added.
Steve Jobs’ ‘distorted reality’ and drug use, FBI file shows
The US Government released a previously secret 191-page FBI dossier on the late Apple chief Steve Jobs yesterday, following a Freedom of Information Act request. The document, compiled 20 years ago, notes his past drug use and cites interviews with people who say he had a penchant to “distort reality”. One long–term friend described him as “a deceptive individual who is not completely forthright and honest. Jobs will twist the truth and distort reality in order to achieve his goals”.
Other acquaintances criticised the Apple creator for abandoning his highschool sweetheart after she gave birth to their first child and confirmed Jobs’s own confession to the FBI that he had experimented with drugs in his youth. While a number of people, including family and friends, portrayed Jobs in negative terms, criticising his manner and his personal life, they nevertheless described him as an impressive individual.
A FoIA reveals another child protection scandal at Haringey Council
Haringey Council in North London — slammed for its failings in the death of Baby P- failed to protect ten starving children and tries to keep it a secret, The Sun reports. The case involved a mum jailed last year for cruelty after her ten children were found filthy, starving and covered in lice. The report reveals that council staff first had contact with the family in July 2002, seven years before police rescued the children. At least one was on Haringey’s at risk register in 2006, three years before their mum was arrested. It raises fears the youngsters could have been rescued earlier.
The Sun took the case to the Information Commissioner’s Office where Deputy Commissioner Graham Smith ruled in its favour. His ruling will apply to all councils in future. Claude Knights of the charity Kidscape said: “This could help save lives. If The Sun had not pursued it, how would we have known about Haringey’s failings?” Haringey said: “This case happened when things were going badly wrong with our child protection services.”