TARGETING OFFENDERS BEFORE THEY STRIKE - DOCTORS AND TEACHERS TO ACT AS 'INFORMERS'
IN NEW 'MINORITY REPORT' PLANS FOR BRITAIN
Doctors, teachers and social workers will be told to act as informers to identify
potential violent offenders for monitoring by the police and other agencies.
Ministers hope that by spotting binge-drinkers,
drug addicts and young gang members early before they commit serious crimes they can be placed on a national database and
steered away from offending behaviour.
The plans have been dubbed the Minority Report powers, a reference to the 2002
Tom Cruise movie in which a futuristic "precrime" police unit uses psychics to arrest and imprison criminals just before they
carry out attacks.
But civil liberty campaigners and union bosses warned that such intrusive measures by the Home Office
would destroy the relationship of trust between GPs and their patients or social workers and clients.
They would also
put professionals at risk of reprisals if they are seen as police informers.
Opposition MPs said recent fiascos involving
huge quantities of personal data lost or leaked by the Government raised grave doubts over plans for sharing and swapping
The scheme, outlined in the Government's latest Tackling Violence Action Plan, will mean redrafting the
NHS's strict privacy protection rules to encourage health staff to share patients' confidential data as part of "public interest
The document sets out plans for identifying individuals who may not have committed any offences but are
judged to be |at risk of involvement in violence".
Tell-tale signs of those 'whose behaviour may be identified as risky'
include drug addicts or alcoholics, mental health patients and youngsters who join gangs or who have been the victims of violence
either in the home or on the street.
Ministers want GPs, social workers, mental health agencies, housing officials
and school or college staff to provide tip-offs so that multi-agency Crime and Disorder Reduction Partnerships, including
local police, can act.
The only existing systems are for monitoring convicted criminals through probation staff, so
new organisations will have to be set up to watch those thought to be at risk of committing violence.
Once an individual
is assessed as a high-risk potential offender, they would be placed on local and national databases and subjected to regular
reviews. The Home Office claims such measures will save lives.
Ministers have cited examples such as Michael Stone,
convicted of murdering Lin and Megan Russell, or Soham murderer Ian Huntley.
They repeatedly came to the notice of
medics or police, but lack of data- sharing meant threatening patterns were missed.
The Home Office said examples of
"interventions" for potential criminals included regular visits from social services staff, providing mentors to young people,
forcing them to attend weapons awareness classes or more after-school activities to keep them off the streets.
officials voiced grave concerns and accused ministers of failing to consult professionals or to address concerns they had
A spokesman for Unison, the public services union, said: "These plans threaten to build a barrier of
suspicion between the public and those who deliver their services."
Shadow Home Secretary David Davis said: "This is
another ill-thought through measure, no doubt based on flawed databases and unreliable statistical analysis."
Chakrabarti, director of human rights group Liberty, said:
"Home Office edicts are unlikely to help skilled health professionals make delicate judgments on behalf of their patients.
The danger is of vulnerable victims treating their own injuries for fear of being reported to the police."
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Ricardo E. Nuñez. All Rights Reserved.
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