Much-loved Home Secretary Wacky Jacqui Smith today announced changes to the code of practise which governs use of the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act and promised to remove the under-tens from the DNA database.
Local councils' use of Ripa has caused a media storm this year although the majority of incidents covered still involved the spooks - for whom the laws were written. There were 519,000 requests to telcos and ISPs for information in 2007, up 50 per cent on last year, but only 1,707 of these came from local councils. Councils also follow Ripa regulations when they use covert cameras and private eyes.
Smith said there were clear cases when councils should use powers regulated by Ripa - like fly-tipping, dodgy traders and for "tackling the misery caused by noisy and disruptive neighbours". But she does not think they should be used for dog fouling or "to check whether paper boys are carrying sacks that are too heavy".
So Smith said early next year there will be a review of the Ripa code of practise, a look at which public authorities should be covered by the Act and "raising the bar for how those powers are authorised, and who authorises their use".
The Home Office will also look at regulations governing the DNA database.
The police were told back in July by the Information Tribunal toremove DNA records of innocent people, and those with old convictions for minor crimes from the database.
Last month the House of Lords got in on the act too, demanding the deletion of innocent people's profiles.
Earlier this month the Home Office lost a final appeal at the European Court of Human Rights brought by two innocent men wanting their DNA profiles removed from the database.
Smith will introduce a White Paper in the new year to look at retention policies. She said the police are working to get more convicted offenders onto the database but "the changes will see some people coming off the database".
It currently holds 4.2m people including over 570,000 people never convicted of any crime. The 70 profiles of children under ten years old will be removed, Smith said.
Finally Smith said the use of CCTV has the confidence and support of the British public. She wants more police forces to map locations of private CCTV cameras so they can be easily accessed when investigating a crime.
No word either on Jacqui's planned super database of all UK citizens' comms data.
There is an extract of the speech here. ®