British police discover the joys of sharing

I was slightly worried to learn that the government has switched on the Impact Nominal Index, an inter-police agency database, this week, with the claim that it has already nabbed a few criminals as a result of sharing information between forces.

The index is the direct result of the alleged failure of various police agencies to prevent the murders of Soham schoolgirls Jessica Chapman and Holly Wells, and nab Ian Huntley at an early stage in his criminal career.

According to the government, the index has been running since December, and has already generated leads in the search for an armed robber.

Police also claim to have discovered a man who had been acquitted of assaulting his girlfriend's eight-year-old daughter, but who had also been linked to similar cases in five other regions.

What I find slightly worrying is that the index is being trialled by police without any formal agency overseeing its introduction.

Of course, it could be me being paranoid, but I find the concept of people being arrested as a direct result of being found on a database deeply disturbing.

Why? Because information can be incorrect, that's why. Data can be falsified or simply appear on the database as the result of human error.

And, please, don't give me any of that: `you've nothing to fear' spiel that people in authority come out with in response to civil libertarian discussions...