Unreliable and possibly off-topic


Friday, August 29, 2008

Enhanced Disclosure VIII (reprise)

Latest typo from McBT's Disclosure Scotland (maintaining a 100% mistake rate) is that my correspondent's misspelled her own email address. Worst is, McBT's not even doing it on purpose- they are really this incompetent. It puts a new complexion on the phrase 'criminal record'.


Dear [Disclosure Scotland],

Thank you for your email below, which apologised for your unit's previous typographic errors. Since Discover Scotland's purpose is to meticulously link identities to events within a legal framework, I would expect better standards of accuracy.

Sadly, my emailed responses of the 21st and 23rd of this month to the email address supplied at the foot of your email have been returned as undeliverable. Could it be that your signature's email address (see below) is also incorrect? It has no period between first and surnames, unlike the address I write to here.

Be this as it may, your email below states that I must now personally take my dispute to Sussex Police.

In response:
1. Please provide me with the full content of your correspondence with Sussex Police, undertaken on my behalf while investigating my Enhanced Disclosure dispute.

2. Please inform me of the powers, responsibilities and limits of Disclosure Scotland to investigate disputes by applicants.

3. Please inform me of the current status of my dispute in your system, with reference to Disclosure Scotland's targets, and whether my dispute is now classified as rectified or unrectified, ongoing or completed.



Thursday, August 28, 2008



HMRC and "your youngest child"

This is getting beyond a joke- I'm becoming a full-time complainer. But I can't stand it when authority is stupid.

Yesterday I phoned HM Revenue & Customs to try to affirm for my Child Tax Credit status that I've had no change in circumstances, e.g. a massive pay rise or a win on the lottery. The gentleman who took my call put me through a long list of security questions, the last of which was my youngest child's date of birth. At this point, I was informed in stern tones (with a whiff of "you're a fraudster") that I had given incorrect information and that I should re-check my paperwork and call back later.

I checked my Child Tax Credit paperwork and realised that some years ago, on advice from HMRC, the kiddos' dad and I had split up the kiddos so we each claimed for one. I happen to claim for the Big Wan and he for the wee wan.

When I phoned back and went through the same 20 security questions, when asked my youngest child's DOB this time I checked which youngest child they meant? The youngest child I bore and care for, or the youngest child for whom I claim tax credits? Of course, they wanted the latter.

But that's not what they asked. And don't try to tell me that the HMRC database doesn't talk to the ID, council tax, registered births or school databases. Call me a pedant, but in a 21st century where shared custody is (thankfully) enshrined in law, HMRC should try to ask for what they actually mean and not what they assume to be usual practice (i.e. single mothers and absent fathers).

I spoke to a manager at HMRC tonight and tried to get this point across. I'm assured that my complaint has been noted, but that the Data Protection Act means they can't confirm that my incorrect security answer yesterday was my factual response to their incorrectly-worded question. Laughing uproariously at this, I countered with a question about the counterbalanced rights afforded to me by the Freedom of Information Act.

Is there something wrong with me? Am I mad cat-lady from Tunbridge Wells who lives only to complain to bureaucrats? Possibly. There are worse types of people, though I never intended to become one.

Honestly, I don't look for this hassle with the authorities. Seems to me they specially seek me out for a right proper fucking over, and I'm not likely to happily acquiesce.



Things are going fine. My correspondent at Disclosure Scotland has gone strangely quiet, but that's OK. If I don't hear back soon, I'll re-send the emails as registered snail mail in case these mysteriously never arrived in her in-box.

Frankly, were I her I'd pass my dispute like a hot potato to the next level (Sussex Police) so that I can instigate my dispute-proper with them. It's Sussex Police Force who are refusing to remove improperly disclosed information from the PNC, not BT's Disclosure Scotland.

Interestingly, two recent Disclosure policy documents I've found from 1996 and 2000 indicate that my 1984 drug possession charge should have been expunged/stepped down in 1994, not 2004!


The Nazi Papa and I had an informal meeting on Monday, which proceeded just as anticipated with no negotiation on his side. It's his way or the highway. But unlike two years ago, I am much surer and more confident that I am not a poor parent, and thus there were no tears or shouting on my part at his intransigent stance. The worst things I said, after an hour of stonewalling, were that his dictats can only harm his relationship with the Big Wan and that if he refuses to budge I will haul his ass to Family Mediation. But these are facts- not threats or opinions.

I do feel bad that I've nicknamed him the Nazi Papa here. However, this is to protect his anonymity, and because the term 'kiddos' dad' becomes unwieldy when I'm referring to 'kiddos' dad's dad', 'kiddos' dad's sister' etc. It's difficult to properly explain here that I maintain regard for him despite our rather acrimonious break-up, and that I think his heart (if not his head) is in the right place parenting-wise.

Nazi Papa has always found a pre-emptive strike the best form of defense, so I wasn't surprised when he kicked off with asking me about my home rules for smoking tobacco by the Fraggles. Luckily, I had instituted a ban on smoking inside my flat by any Fraggle, whether legally of age or not, and each and every one has been personally informed that I will remove the organs of generation of any who gives my son cigarettes.

However, I also assured Nazi Papa from the top that I too would like to see the Big Wan do well academically this year for his Uni entrance exams, but not if it pushes him into social isolation or reactive rebellion.

I was unsurprised when Nazi Papa brought up his two elder brothers (both now GPs) as models of an ideal 5th Year experience. Both were entirely asocial at school so had no social or cultural life to impinge on study time. However, one (the eldest) has been a bona fide psychopath since childhood. The other became an excellent and well-loved GP (serving many of the young homeless and sexually abused of our area), but as far as anyone is aware has never had an intimate relationship in his ~50 years of life.

Apparently the Big Wan's Standard exam scores of 7 Credits from 8 exams was piss-poor, so now he must learn to do better through the stick with no carrot. The most telling statement from our parental meeting was Nazi Papa's belief that Big Wan must now submit to total control, in order to learn responsibility! This was my absolute favourite double-think. So... we lock him down for an entire year to get good exam results, and expect that from this he will thus achieve an internal motivation engine. Right....

Nazi Papa had some curious definitions of nighttime social activities. For instance, he swore blind that he'd allowed Big Wan out every night during his custodial weekend (last weekend). On examination, these three nights-out transpired to be curfewed at 6.30 pm on Friday and 5 pm on Saturday. Big Wan was allowed out to meet friends on Sunday night (after being kept in all day) for 1.5 hrs from 6.30 pm to 8 pm. That's 'out' three nights of the weekend?

Nazi Papa maintains opposition to the after-school club job on Friday afternoons, because a) Big Wan would be better attending the Youth Filmhouse Group in that time slot and b) because my grandmother's inheritence (held by me in trust for him) means he won't have to work at Uni.

Wrong, wrong, wrong. a) Big Wan already threw in the Filmhouse group because 'it was all Fettes' pupils' (Tony Blair types) and b) no way is Big Wan getting his hands on his very small inheritance until he can demonstrate a responsible aptitude with money.

Currently, the cards on the table are that:
a) Nazi Papa has no right to dictate how I raise kiddos in my 50% parenting time.
b) That if Nazi Papa continues to exercise inappropriate control in his time, my natural reaction will be to relax control in my time.
c) We will meet again in 2 weeks to see if Big Wan is meeting Nazi Papa's criteria, for a review of Big Wan's freedoms from Nazi Papa.
d) If Nazi Papa continues with the stick and no carrot, I will haul his ass to Family Mediation with the Big Wan, to explain in front of a counsellor his reasons to imprison a bright, normal young adult.


Saturday, August 23, 2008

Enhanced Disclosure VII

Date: Sat, 23 Aug 2008 21:26:57 +0100 (BST)
From: [ion]
Subject: Enhanced Disclosure dispute
To: [Disclosure Scotland]

Dear [Disclosure Scotland],

I have an additional query to those in my email below. I thought I raise it now so that it can be answered with my two existing unanswered queries.

Please can you inform me of the current status of my dispute in your system? Specifically, has my dispute been classified as rectified or unrectified, ongoing or completed?

I gather you normally seek to 'rectify disputes within 21 days' (, so am curious as to how my dispute (instituted 02/08/08) is currently classified with reference to Disclosure Scotland's targets.



Thursday, August 21, 2008

Enhanced Disclosure VI

Dear [Disclosure Scotland],

Thank you for your email below.

I accept your apology for your unit's typographic errors. Since Discover Scotland's purpose is to accurately link identities and events within a legal framework, I would expect high standards in this faculty. Thus, quoting incorrect conviction dates fell short of acceptable standards and obfuscated my dispute.

You state that I must now personally take my dispute to Sussex Police.

In response:
1. Please provide me with the full content of your correspondence with Sussex Police, undertaken on my behalf while investigating my Enhanced Disclosure dispute.

2. Please inform me of the powers, responsibilities and limits of Disclosure Scotland to investigate disputes by applicants.


From: [Disclosure Scotland]
Sent: 15 August 2008 09:42
To: [ion]
Subject: Dispute

Dear [ion]

I refer to your email dated 14th August 2008 regarding the conviction dated 09/08/84. I must apologise for the typing error in my letter which read 09/08/04. Sussex Police informed Disclosure Scotland that they are not prepared to remove the conviction, since you have another conviction dated 22/03/2006 still “ live “ on the Criminal History System. Should you wish to further contest this information then please contact Sussex Police directly.

Please do not hesitate to contact me should you require any further information.

Yours sincerely,
[Disclosure Scotland]


Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Nazi Papa

Kiddos' dad and I generally do a reasonable job of our legally-enshrined 50% co-parenting- the kiddos' fineness being the evidence. The arrangement, functioning well for 8 years, is a swap-around of kiddos' homebase every 2-3 days.

But the Nazi Papa is again exceeding his authority and re-kindling his issues.

Wee wan should've started High School today, but the strike by public service school janitors (hooray!) meant her commencement is delayed till tomorrow. I'd assumed that wee wan would spend the day at my house 'home alone' (it being my parental shift) until I arrived home from work at 5.30 pm. But there was no wee wan here, and no message on my answerphone or mobile reassuring me that she was in safe hands. So tonight I phone the dad to ask where the 12 yr old kiddo might be?

She's with him, thankfully. It turns out Nazi Papa has decided unilaterally, retrospectively, without communicating his decisions and without regard to law that a 12 yr old wee wan, with more common sense in her little finger than most 40 yr olds, would be neglected and endangered if 'home alone' in the daytime. That she's been home alone for 2 hours after school for a year, and several 8 hour stints over these summer holidays, seems immaterial.

Then Nazi Papa laid down his other New Regime for the Big Wan. It was the first day of his 5th Year, but I'd granted permission for him to go to tea at one of his Fraggle Rock friendies' houses tonight, so long as he was back by 9 pm.

Nazi Papa and I have murmured agreement that Big Wan should be encouraged to do the best he can academically this year. However, I was neither consulted nor informed of Nazi Papa's new self-declared dictat (unilateral, retrospective, uncirculated and enacted without negotiation) that Big Wan is grounded on weekdays for the next 10 months, till his Higher exams are finished. Without telling me, Nazi Papa ruled in my absence that tonight the Big Wan had a curfew to be home with me by 8 pm and not 9 pm.

Nazi Papa labours under the impression that Big Wan's Standard exam results of 7 'credit' grades (1s and 2s) and 1 'foundation' (5) grade were shit. Anything less that 8 '1' grades were pure failure by Big Wan, and now require a lock-down curfew until Big Wan's Higher exams next June.

I remember being 16 (not pleasantly) and a lock down then for 10 months would quite likely have elicited a (defensible) response of 'fuck you', an abandonment of education and family, an application for a council flat in Wester Hailes and a new career as a dolie on green medicine.

I feel a Family Mediation coming on. In Nazi Papa's and my 5th year I can recall no academic study outside school by either of us, but an enthusiastic and time-consuming extra-curricular interest in shagging each other senseless. Despite this, we both got to Uni, graduated, one of us got a PhD and one of us a well-paying management job permitting a good standard of living, selective amnesia and implicit authority.


Sunday, August 17, 2008

Enhanced Disclosure V

A recent appeal before the Information Tribunal found that three Police Forces had contravened the Data Protection Act by actively disclosing to the PNC and third bodies ancient history offences.

Extract from conclusions of Information Tribunal, 20th July 2008

"Conclusion and remedy

205. The Tribunal accepts that it is a police purpose to disclose conviction data held on the PNC to bodies such as the CRB and ISA who require such information in order to undertake their statutory duties. However the Tribunal finds that this does not mean that Chief Constables are required to retain conviction data on the PNC, in effect, indefinitely even if no longer required for their core purposes. Chief Constables are required to process personal data including conviction data in accordance with their statutory obligations under the DPA and HRA. If such compliance requires the erasure of conviction data, as seems to be accepted by the Appellants that it does for soft criminal intelligence or data, then that information will no longer be held on the PNC. This does not mean that the police are in breach of other statutory obligations because these other obligations, as explained above, in our view go no further than require the police to disclose information held on the PNC.

This position has existed for many years with the weeding of conviction data in England and Wales up until 2006 and seems to exist quite happily in Scotland up to this very day. If the government requires a different regime to operate then it will need to legislate accordingly with all the necessary safeguards that would be considered appropriate.

206. We find that the responsibility for complying with the DPPs is that of the data controllers in these appeals namely the Chief Constables of the police forces involved, not ACPO. Any advice or guidance from ACPO cannot replace this responsibility under the DPA. The Chief Constables responsibility is to consider each case for the stepping out of conviction data on its own individual merits taking into account all the circumstances including any advice from ACPO in accordance with the DPA. This clearly happened in the case of GMP2.

207. Having considered all the evidence and arguments of the parties in these appeals and that the burden of proof lies on the Commissioner we uphold the Enforcement Notices in these particular cases and dismiss the appeals. We require the Appellants to erase the conviction data in question from the PNC within 35 days of the date of this decision.

208. In view of this finding we do not find it necessary to make a decision on the issue raised by Home Office in paragraph 86.1 above, namely whether disclosure of the conviction data at issue in these appeals under Part V of the Police Act 1997 and in the future under SVGA 2006 is lawful and does not infringe the Data Protection Principles and Article 8 ECHR. This is because as we are upholding the Enforcement Notices which require the erasure of the conviction data at issue in these appeals, the question of the disclosure of this personal data in the future under these provisions no longer arises.

209. The Tribunal would observe that the 2006 Guidelines do not appear to be a suitable approach to the retention of conviction data in order to comply with the DPA. ACPO seems to have ignored the guidance provided in the 2005 Tribunal decision at paragraph 225 of the judgment in relation to stepping out of conviction data. We appreciate that policing requirements have changed since that decision but the 2006 Guidelines do not appear to us to even attempt to provide a proper consideration of DPPs 3 and 5 in contrast to other police codes referred to in this decision.

210. Our decision is unanimous."


Friday, August 15, 2008

Enhanced Disclosure IV

Disclosure Scotland emailed on Friday that the wrong conviction dates in their response to my dispute was a result of their typo, and not SPFDU's.

I'd assumed that Disclosure Scotland was a public service organisation operating under civil service type management. Wrong. In its latest Annual Review I learned that Disclosure Scotland is an out-sourced service run for profit by British Telecom (BT).

The same organisation which handles my broadband tech problems with script-reading call-centre workers in Bangalore also manages Disclosure Scotland.

According to the Organisational Chart included in the 2007-2008 Annual Review, my dispute is being managed by a staff of 6, operating to a target of 21 days turnaround time on disputes.

However, BT's Disclosure Scotland is delighted to announce that it hit 2 million disclosures processed in April 2007, and its dispute rate fell from an initial level of 0.07% in 2005 to just 0.04% of their 783,0000 disclosure applications in 2008. Therefore I hope I don't screw up their excellent figures too much with my dispute.


Thursday, August 14, 2008

Enhanced Disclosure III

I may be starting to enjoy this correspondence too much, but everyone needs a hobby!

14th Aug 2008

Dear [Disclosure Scotland],

Thank you for your letter of 12th August informing me of the result of your enquiries with Sussex Police Force Disclosure Unit (SPFDU).

In this you inform me that SPFDU have determined that "since [my] last conviction showing on the record is 22/03/06- the conviction dated 09/08/04 will remain until 22/03/18 as a minimum period under current guidelines" and that "Therefore they are not prepared to change the information previously disclosed".

In response, I would I would ask both you and SPFDU to re-examine your records.

It was clearly stated in my email below that the conviction disclosure I am disputing dates from 09/08/1984. I have no conviction from 09/08/2004 as stated, and can be reasonably confident given my unusual, if not unique name, that inaccurate conviction details supplied by SPFDU are not due to identity confusion.

Therefore I would ask you to re-present my dispute, whose substance was stated in my email below, to SPFDU.

To reiterate: I have no dispute that my conviction of 22/03/06 will be disclosed until 2018 under current guidelines. It is my 09/08/1984 conviction whose disclosure I dispute.

I hope you will forgive my comment that this exchange has not so far bolstered my confidence in the accuracy of information held by Sussex Police Force, PNC or Disclosure Scotland, or the reliable implementation of ACPO guidelines for Disclosure Scotland purposes. However, it is reassuring that my middle name is now being spelled correctly.

Kind regards,


Friday, August 08, 2008

Big Wan exams

The boy done good in my book. His Standard grade results were four '1's, three '2's and a '5'. My understanding (admittedly from a biased source- Big Wan himself) is that 1s and 2s are equivalent to the As of the old days, and a 5 to a C.

His dad is ever-keen on the stick, querying why Big Wan failed to get eight 1s, and phoning me to discuss a unified 'knuckling down' austerity program for the next school year. His dad and I got 8 As in O grades at his age (without a scrap of work from either of us), but for me the Big Wan receiving a single C (in history) is hardly failure.

Big Wan is not short on smarts but constitutionally inclined to 'cruise'. Thus encouraging study skills and application during this coming year is indeed a good idea, to enable him to obtain optimal Higher results. However, Big Wan will be just 16 years old when he sits his Higher exams next summer, and in my opinion too young to start higher education thereafter, even should he acheive 5 As. Give the kiddo a break, fer chrissakes. Let him develop personally as well as academically before he starts on the treadmill for the next 50 years.

Yesterday, I broke ranks by disclosing to Big Wan that his dad failed his own Maths Higher exam. It might have been a bit bad of me, but I wanted to communicate that getting a single suboptimal exam result is not a catastrophe, and that one needs to play the long game. In the back of my mind is that it's the ultra high-achievers who throw themselves off Appleton Tower when they fail to get a first, or when dumped by their girlfriend. We all need to get a perspective and a life.

So ends the lesson.


Wednesday, August 06, 2008

Enhanced disclosure II

Soon after instituting my 'dispute' over disclosure of my deep, hideous and dark criminal past, I received an acknowledgement letter from Disclosure Scotland.

#1 mistake in the letter was its statement that my dispute concerned 'the accuracy of the information contained in [my] disclosure', when this is a bald misrepresentation. My dispute letter made it clear I was disputing rather the incorrect disclosure of entirely accurate information, and misapplication of the 'relevance test'.

#2 mistake- a damning one- was that the letter is addressed to a stranger with my address, fore- and surnames, but a different middle name. If I'm receiving this doppelnamer's highly privileged, confidential information, some other stranger is very likely receiving the same or worse on me and my criminal past!

Seriously, one would've thought that a system sufficiently comprehensive to dredge up fossil criminal offences might also carry the ability to do a basic fucking mail-merge.


Sunday, August 03, 2008

Enhanced Disclosure

A new workplace policy last year required Enhanced Disclosures of criminal records for all staff, in keeping with recent Scottish legislation on protecting Vulnerable Slugs.

I pre-warned my line manager immediately of the unfortunate incident in Nov 2005- a regrettable drink-driving offence- and also a prehistoric 1984 conviction in Brighton for possession of drugs as a 20 yr old student, from the good old days of stop-and-search. This latter should have been expunged (even for enhanced disclosures) in 2004, since I'd not re-offended.

The Enhanced Disclosure certificates came back from Disclosure Scotland a few weeks back. The bosses had considered and counted as irrelevant the information before I'd even gotten around to opening my copy of the certificate. The recent regrettable drink-driving was there, but also the ancient history drug possession. Not only am I intrigued, but also activated by the legal grey areas of my 1984 conviction and its disclosure.

Some background:

The Scottish legal justice system operates on the 20/40 year rule- that excepting life custodial sentences and sex offences, convictions are 'weeded' from the police computers when the convict reaches 40 yrs of age and the offense is 20 years old without recidivism. 'Weeding' means that the offence is not just spent in term of the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act 1974, but also for perpetuity.

The English/Welsh/N Ireland system previously operated a similar expungement system whereby offences would be written off after 20 years or less, providing no repeat offences were convicted. Serious offences stay on record for 20 years, less serious ones or those committed by young persons are expunged sooner.

But then (as I understand things) the Ian Huntley case caused a major panic. The enquiry into how this child-abuser, who'd been cautioned for child sex offenses, got a clean criminal record check to work as a school janitor precipitated a new system whereby all spent offences, cautions and indeed even 'police intelligence' would be kept on the Police National Computer (PNC) in perpetuity and disclosed as thought appropriate by Chief Police Officers to potential employers.

I learned from the March 2008 Retention of Records Guideline from ACPO, that 'stepped down' (i.e. spent and expunged records) can only be disclosed, even on an enhanced disclosure, at the express permission of a Chief Officer, following his/her application of a mysterious 'relevance test'.

This means the Chief Constable of Sussex Police has personally decided that possessing recreational drugs as a 20 year old student in 1984 is so serious and relevant a crime that it should be actively disclosed to employers, even though it has 'stepped down' according to guidelines.

So- where are we?

1. If I'd been caught with my wee personal stash in Scotland in 1984, the conviction would be gone bye-bye, but because I was nabbed in England it's not.

2. Because possession of drugs has been downgraded but not decriminalised, the PNC can keep it in file in perpetuity, despite that if I was caught with the same in 2008, I'd get a hand-slap at most.

3. A criminal record which should have been deleted from the PNC in 2004, according to then-current legislation, has re-appeared, phoenix-like.

4. A 'relevance test' personally conducted by the Chief Constable of Sussex Police has determined that an isolated drug possession by a 20 year old student still remains relevant 24 years later to her suitability to work as slug physiologist.


This situation is luckily not a personal problem, but it does highlight the idiocy and inconsistency of state apparatus. Out of interest, I'm instituting a 'dispute' on my 1984 offence disclosure.

There's a lot more info out there on how the PNC is now allowed to hold discloseable details of your convictions, cautions, unsuccessful prosecutions, 'intelligence' and even simple allegations, all until you die or reach 100 years.

And if you want a laugh, inspect ACPO's 'severity' rating for criminal offences, determining the time till they 'step down'.

'Possessing controlled drug' (any and all) is a category A offence requiring at least 20 years before being 'stepped down', along with genocide, manufacturing chemical weapons and terrorism offences.

In Category B (less serious) are 'Causing death by reckless driving through drink or drugs', GBH, racially-aggravated assault, people-trafficking, indecent assault on a minor, child-stealing, child cruelty and gross indecency.

In Category C (least serious) are assault, battery, child neglect, selling weapons to children or the insane, cruelty to animals, industrial pollution and detaining a woman in a brothel.


Saturday, August 02, 2008

The weekend!

What joy to receive back my kiddiwinks yesterday! Hard to believe how much I missed them while they were away in the back of beyond (Altandhu, near Achiltibuie) with their dad. He had the precognition to book the week with glorious weather, in contrast to my wet week in Yorkshire.

The Big Wan is back to his normal good humour, aided perhaps by the addition of pints of cider from the Furan Bar in Altandhu, bought for him by students working at the Smokehouse. Maybe I should try this technique next time he kicks off. In the meantime, it is so good to have my Big Wan restored to me! The exam results are to be issued on Tuesday, and I suspect I'm more nervous than he. The black dye is leaching out of his hair, revealing again the ash-blonde locks I love so well.

And the wee wan is just as sweet and juicy as ever, and brought us back two more haggis toys, Hagforth and Hagnes, to join the original Haggie. She moves up to High School this month, so it's all change. How can they have gotten so big and grown up? How will I cope when they leave home?

Lots of jobbiness in the last week...zzzz. Yes, I'm to assume my colleague's managerial roles when her maternity leave starts next month. Yes, I'm to train and supervise two new inexperienced part-time staff. No, there will be no acting-up pay. Will I fail? Yes! Stick, stick, stick, and no carrot.

But the mood's up, the weather's intermittently good, the dear mum's back from her hols and the Hari Krishnas gong-bashing along Princes St. were a lovely sight!