South Wales Police is developing a covert national database that will record and store reports of anti-social behaviour, Computer Weekly has learned.
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The existence of the database was revealed when an alleged offender received a warning letter, seen by Computer Weekly, from a South Wales Police inspector. This stated, "You should be aware that these details will be placed in an anti-social behaviour database which holds information relating to those involved in such behaviour."
Spokesmen from the Home Office, the Information Commissioner's Office (ICO), the Association of Chief Police Officers, and the National Policing Improvement Agency all said they were unaware of the database's existence. It was made public in parliamentary questions this week.
The database was due to go live on 10 September 2010. A question from Lord Corbett of Castle Vale suggests that it failed recent penetration tests, which assess its defences against unauthorised access and hackers.
South Wales Police confirmed the existence of the database, but said it was not yet operational. A spokesman said a meeting scheduled for Monday (7 March) could provide a new start-up date.
A Home Office spokesman declined to comment ahead of a reply to Lord Corbett's questions.
A spokesman for the Association of Chief Police Officers (Acpo) said as far as he knew Acpo was unaware of the database. "My lead (boss) has never mentioned it," he said.
A spokesman for the ICO, which is responsible for actions under the Data Protection Act, also said the ICO was unaware of the database. He added the ICO would not expect to be consulted unless the developers thought it might breach any of the eight principles enshrined in the act.
Lord Corbett has asked the government what financial and other assistance South Wales Police had received from government departments and agencies in designing and building the database, and how many records it could hold. He then asked what other databases police in England and Wales kept for storing details of alleged anti-social behaviour, and the rank of officers authorised to create and access such records.
Lord Corbett also asked how police would share "lessons learnt from the failure of penetration testing of the anti-social behaviour management database developed by South Wales Police".