February 19, 2008
Doctors and teachers to act as ‘informers’ to target violent offenders BEFORE they strike under controversial new ‘Minority Report’ plans
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 private data.
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 disclosures”.