What is the difference between the secret plans for Compulsory ID Card change of address and re-registration policies and the Sex Offender Register ?
The Home Office has announced an amendment to the Sexual Offences Bill, intended to tighten up the registration, address change and periodic re-registration procedures for the Sexual Offenders Register (there also seem to be plans to add Violent Offenders to this next year).
Home Office Press release Reference: 274/2003 - Date: 6 Oct 2003
Technology to allow the checking of sex offender?s details against those held by other agencies is being developed in conjunction with the Violent and Sexual Offenders Register (VISOR), which is expected to roll out early next year.Notes to editors:
It is envisaged that once the technology is in place, the information notified by sex offenders would be automatically and regularly checked against details held by the UK Passport Agency (UKPA), the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Association (DVLA) and the Department of Work and Pensions (DWP). This would identify discrepancies between the notified information, which could be followed up by the police.
The system will be expressly for the purposes of confirming information that sex offenders are required to provide under the notification requirements and not to confirm other intelligence. The police may however use the information for the purposes of investigating and prosecuting criminal offences.
VISOR is a single national IT database which will include information on violent and sex offenders. The database will allow the police and probation services to share the most current information on offenders, including latest risk assessments. It will contribute significantly to work to monitor and manageme potentially dangerous offenders as well as assisting police in their investigations. Pilots are currently on schedule to start in Durham and Wandsworth in November 2003 and in Lancashire and Manchester in January 2004. The national rollout is currently on schedule to begin in late January 2004.The sex offender?s register
Registration is an automatic consequence of a conviction, fining or caution for an offence specified in Schedule 1 of the Sex Offenders Act 1997. Offenders must report to a police station (local authorities have no role to play in registration) prescribed by regulations within three days of the date of the conviction, caution etc. or their release from prison, and notify the police of:
name(s) (and any aliases)
date of birth
They may also be required to submit to having their fingerprints and photograph taken at that time.
Offenders are also required to notify the police of:
any changes to their details (within 14 days)
any address in addition to their home address at which they have stayed for a period of 14 days or for periods amounting to 14 days within a 12 month period (within 14 days)
an intention to travel abroad for eight days or longer (no less than 24 hours before travelling)
The Criminal Justice and Court Services Act 2000 provided that relevant offenders would also be required to notify the police of any intention to travel abroad for a period of eight days or longer. As a minimum they must provide the following details of their travel plans to the police:
name and address
date of departure from the UK
point of arrival in that country
In addition, if they are aware of any of the following information at any point up to 48 hours before they depart then these details must additionally be notified:
point of arrival in any countries in addition to the first destination
carrier(s) to be used to leave and return from the or any other points of arrival while outside the UK
accommodation arrangements for the first night outside the UK
date of re-entry to the UK
point of re-entry to the UK
The Government introduced the Sexual Offences Bill to parliament on 28 January 2003. Among other things the Bill will amend and re-enact the Sex Offenders Act 1997 including the following changes in order to strengthen its provisions:
Requiring annual re-registration by all offenders.
Requiring all notifications to be made in person and enabling the police to take photographs / finger prints of offenders.
Requiring offenders to notify their National Insurance number.
Changing the time period for notification of change of name or change of address from 14 days to 3 days.
Changing the time period for a qualifying address (i.e. a temporary change of address that must be registered) from 14 days to 7 days.
Power to amend offences and thresholds that trigger registration
New sexual offences to trigger registration - some with disposal thresholds
A conditional discharge will now trigger registration.
All well and good, but if the Home Secretary David Blunkett persists with his plans for Compulsory Biometric ID Cards, in order to catch suspected terrorists or illegal immigrants, then the whole population of the UK will be subjected to almost the same level of monitoring as Sex Offenders are, and will have to pay ?40 or more each into the bargain.
The Government already has the powers and soon the technology to link the Department for Work and Pensions, Driver Vehicle Licencing Agency and the Passport Office databases as above.
How often will you have to physically present yourself in person (from the age of 16 until you die), to re-register and update whatever Biometric Identifiers they plan to use ?
What will the change of address and re-registration requirements be for the vague ID Card plan ?
If they are less draconian than those listed above to keep an eye on Violent or Sexual Offenders, then what use will the system possibly be when trying to track down terrorists or illegal immigrants, who move around much more sneakily than Registered Sex Offenders do ?
Will you be charged with a crime if the addresses that appear on these datatbases do not match that on your ID Card ? What are the error correction procedures, given the notorious unreliability of say the DVLA database ?
If the draconian Government access to airline and ferry company databases is included, then for practical purposes, the Compulsory ID card will mean that everyone in the UK will be monitored just as if they were convicted Violent or Sex Offenders.