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News & Updates
Sharing Information under the Data Protection Act 1998. Bisio Training looks at whether the penalties for ‘blagging’ will be increased?
The Data Protection Act 1998 regulates the processing of personal information and requires organisations to keep it secure. It generally restricts disclosure of personal information to third parties unless an exemption applies. Customers and employees will usually have an expectation that their information will not be disclosed to third parties without good cause. This does not mean that personal data should never be shared or disclosed, but it means that, where it is, the legal framework provides an appropriate degree of protection to individuals’ information that is sufficiently flexible to respond to the different circumstances in which data may be shared.
Personal data is easier than ever to access and a private profile of a person can be built from a desktop. The ease of access has also opened the information market to new and unscrupulous suppliers, who may not be registered with the Information Commissioner and are unlikely to understand the rules under which they ought to operate. In its paper to the government, the Home Affairs Select Committee which looked into the activities of private investigators recommended that the Home Secretary strengthen the penalties available for offences relating to the unlawful obtaining, disclosure and selling of personal data under section 55 of the Act. ‘….the current fine, typically around £100 is simply not an effective deterrent’ the report said. In a further report, published on 29 November 2012, Lord Justice Leveson made a number of recommendations in relation to the existing data protection framework, including a recommendation to introduce custodial sentences for s55 offences.
However there are a range of other offences that cover the misuse of personal data. The Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act 2000 applies to individuals who unlawfully intercept communications and the Computer Misuse Act 1990 applies to unauthorised access to computer material. Both offences carry a maximum penalty of a two year prison sentence. Under the Fraud Act 2006, it is an offence to dishonestly make a false representation (including as to identity) with a view to financial gain and, depending on the circumstances of the case, this could cover ‘blagging’. The maximum sentence in this case is ten years imprisonment. Bribing another in exchange for information (or being bribed), contrary to the Bribery Act 2010, is also an offence which carries a maximum penalty of ten years imprisonment.
With a better trained, licensed and more responsible profession emerging the likelihood is that ignorance of the Data Protection Act principles is unlikely to hold water in mitigation of an offence relating to unlawfully obtained personal information.
The Data Protection Act 1998 is one of the Bisio Training’s 32 Tutorials in the Level 3 Award for Professional Investigators E-Learning package.
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| Sticking with the theme of professionalising investigative activities in the private sector, Bisio Training's Private Investigator Magazine article discusses the often over looked skill of recording surveillance observations. (Another glimpse at one of the 32 E-Learning tutorials available in Bisio’sLevel 3 Award for Professional Investigators )|
|Link to PIs Magazine Article|| || || |
|Gathering Electronic Evidence|
Continuing with its look at how investigators can start to prepare for the professionalism expected from a regulated and licensed industry, Bisio Training now asks how investigators can better manage the various risks that are associated with electronic information and data security. (One of the 32 E-learning tutorials that form part of Bisio's Level 3 Award for Professional Investigators)
Computers and other electronic devices are present in every aspect of today’s modern life. Nowadays a computer that would have otherwise filled a room some years ago can now fit in the palm of your hand. The same technological advances that now aid investigations are also being exploited by criminals.
Computers can be used in a number of ways. They are not only used to commit crime such as on-line scams, fraud and hacking but may also contain evidence of crime such as links to paedophilia. Computers can even be targets of crime by being deliberately infected with viruses.
Knowing the value of electronic evidence, how to process a crime scene containing electronic evidence, and how an Investigator might act in response to such situations are hugely important. Every Investigator should be aware of the fragile nature of electronic evidence and the principles and procedures associated with its collection and preservation and should avoid doing anything which may alter, damage, or destroy original evidence. So how do investigators ensure that they handle this type of evidence correctly?
There are four main principles involved:-
Firstly, an investigator should not take any action which would change the data held on a computer or storage media which may subsequently be relied upon in court. Treating electronic evidence in the same way as documents and applying the same rules and laws will ensure that the evidence is admissible at court.
Secondly, where it is essential to access original data this must only be done by a competent person. In these circumstances, it may become necessary for the original machine to be accessed to recover the evidence. With this in mind, it is essential that a witness, who is competent to give evidence, makes any such access.
Thirdly, an audit trail should be created and preserved capable of examination by an independent party. It is essential to show objectively to a court both in continuity and integrity of evidence.
Fourthly, there should be someone within the investigation who assumes responsibility for ensuring that any action taken is lawful.
Finally, knowledge of BS 10008:2008, the standard relating to the ‘Evidential weight and legal admissibility of electronic evidence’ will certainly assist. The standard addresses issues relating to the authenticity and integrity of data and will help investigators comply with the law and legal procedures. By following this standard’s best practice guidelines, investigators can better manage the various risks that are associated with electronic information and data security. Being able to demonstrate compliance with the standard in court proceedings will also enhance the weight of the electronic evidence and help resist any cynical attempts to avoid liability by reference to spurious arguments about the authenticity of the information.
For more information or to purchase a copy of the standard visit the BSI shop at:
|BSI Shop|| || || |
|Open Questions and Open Minds!|
Licensing Private Investigations will place demands on investigators to become more professional in what they do, not least of which will be their ability to get the best information from witnesses, victims and suspects. So do you really know how to interview? Bisio Training reveals some of the techniques.
Interviewing is no more than a conversation between two or more people with a particular purpose behind it. The main difference between an interview and a conversation however, is that the investigator needs to take control and manage it effectively.
So how is this done? The interview needs to have structure with the investigator directing the course that it takes. How the investigator does this is where the art of interviewing comes in. Building a rapport with the interviewee and demonstrating that the investigator is credible will go some way towards realising that. Having an open posture and maintaining eye contact are just two very simple ways to do this.
The investigator will need to have certain qualities to get the most from the interview. Showing support, empathy and respect will get the most from a witness or victim interview and being positive, non judgmental and straightforward is likely to elicit more from a suspect interview. Equally, the investigator needs to be an effective listener able to concentrate for long periods of time and assimilate lots of information.
For all reasons imaginable people lie and identifying a lie is essential for later challenges. Lies generally fall into 3 main categories. The first, and probably the easiest way of lying, takes little effort because the account will be scant in detail and have meaningless gaps in it. The second takes a little more effort and usually consists of vague answers with more than a little ambiguity thrown in. The final way takes much more effort and can consist of elements of the first two.
To get the best from witnesses, victims or suspects an interview needs to be structured with time spent planning and preparing for it. An investigator will soon lose credibility if they dry up, get facts or figures wrong or show little or no interest in what the interviewee has to say. It is only by having a good understanding of the principles of interviewing in the first place will an investigator be able to hone their skills.
If you want to know more about how you can improve your interviewing skills try our interactive 'Introduction to Investigative Interviewing' E-Learning package, (http://investigativeinterviewingtechniques.co.uk/)
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|Exhibiting Good Practice!|
Andy Tish, Managing Director and one of the lead trainers at Bisio Training Ltd looks at the initial seizing of exhibits during an investigation.
The seizing and handling of exhibits is a competency that should be second nature to all investigators, regardless of whether they work in the public or private sector.
At best, failing to appropriately record, secure and prove the continuity of an exhibit seized during an investigation means its validity is open to question and at worst the entire case being dismissed at court.
All organisations and individuals providing an investigative service should have in place a comprehensive exhibit handling policy covering the seizure, retention and movement of exhibits seized. But this will only work if the procedures outlined by that policy are adhered to from the outset.
The initial seizure of any exhibit is the most important point of its journey; getting this right ensures the rest of the process goes in the right direction.
Every exhibit should be labeled. The information recorded on the label will assist the rest of the investigation including initial storage, preliminary enquiries about it, its possible use in interview and its eventual use at court.
Basic information about the time and date of discovery is rarely a problem but it's the rest of the information where inexperienced investigators often slip up.
Firstly, the exhibit’s description needs to be as full as possible. Seizing a piece of paper and describing it as a ‘piece of paper with writing on it’ is not going to be very helpful later on when there has been another 100 exhibits seized, all described as ‘piece of paper with writing on it’. Using a more descriptive term such as ‘Vodafone phone bill dated 03/02/2013’ will distinguish the exhibit and make it easier to filter later when it appears on a list of all the exhibits seized.
Secondly, the location where the exhibit was found is sometimes one of the most important pieces of information. ‘Front bedroom of house’ is all well and good if it’s a large item that is obviously on show, but a small item, such as a credit card, needs to be pinned down to its exact position in the room. ‘Top drawer of bedside cabinet. Front bedroom’ is far better and may help to identify the person responsible for it during later interviews. You should also consider the reason why the exhibit was put in its location. Incriminating exhibits found in ‘obviously hidden’ locations go a long way to confirm the ‘mens rea’ of the person placing it there.
Finally, the individual numbering of the exhibits is key. To avoid duplication of exhibit numbers a unique and easily followed numbering system should be adopted. One technique is to use the date as a unique identifier along with the initials of the investigator and the sequential number of each exhibit as it is seized. So ALT/01/14/03/2013 would be the first exhibit seized on the 14th March 2013.
This is just a snapshot of the Exhibit Handling tutorial which is one of over 30 interactive on-line tutorials that form part of Bisio’s Level 3 Award for Professional Investigators
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|Disclosure: In Pursuit of a level playing field.|
| BISIO TRAINING LTD looks at the new disclosure Guidelines issued by the Attorney General’s Office in December 2013 and how they will affect the day to day working of those involved in criminal investigations.|
Proper disclosure of unused material remains a vital part of a fair trial and is essential if miscarriages of justice are to be avoided. The Guidelines are issued by the Attorney General for the information of all investigators and are intended not only to clarify the procedures to be followed but to encourage the active participation of all parties involved the case, including defence practitioners.
The statutory framework for criminal investigations and disclosure is contained in the Criminal Procedure and Investigations Act 1996 and the CPIA Codes of Practice. The aim of this legislation is to ensure that criminal investigations are conducted in a fair, objective and thorough manner and requires prosecutors to provide to the defence copies of, or access to any prosecution material which has not previously been disclosed to the accused and which might reasonably be considered capable of undermining the case for the prosecution or of assisting the case for the defence.
Fair disclosure to the accused is a fundamental right under Article 6 of the Human Rights Act 1998.
Prosecutors will only be expected to anticipate what material might undermine their case or strengthen the defence case in light of the information available to them at the time of the disclosure decision. This information may come from accounts given by a suspect during questioning and could include issues of self-defence, identification or duress. In deciding whether such material satisfies the disclosure test consideration should be given to how the material might be used in proceedings, e.g. how it might be used in cross-examination or relied upon to exclude other evidence in the case.
What disclosure isn’t? Disclosure is not an open-ended trawl of unused material and the new Guidelines encourage the defence to play their part in avoiding over -burdening an already overloaded Criminal Justice System. By pointing prosecutors in the right direction in a defence statement, the defence will be entitled to have copies of or access to material which might reasonable be considered capable of undermining the case against the accused or might reasonably assist the defence.
Disclosure is also not a ‘box-ticking’ exercise according to the Guidelines and should be approached in a ‘thinking manner’, in other words some thought must go into why the CPIA regime requires a particular course of action to be taken and recommends that a full log of disclosure decisions is kept on the file. It is crucial that investigators record their reasons for a particular approach in writing.
The Guidelines also insist that all investigators are familiar with the CPIA Code of Practice, in particular their obligations to retain and record relevant material, to review it and to reveal it to the prosecutor.
As an Investigative Training Company Bisio already covers disclosure in its comprehensive Criminal Justice and Investigations Act 1996 Tutorial which is part of our E-Learning package for the Level 3 Award for Professional Investigators. However, this has been updated to take into account the new Guidelines so investigators can be confident that they have the latest information in respect of disclosure training.
|Click this link for to see Attorney General’s Guidelines|| || || |
|Investigation Licensing Flow Chart|
It's now 6 months since the Home Secretary announced the licensing of private investigations. With no further information from the SIA or the Home Office and the very real prospect of unlicensed investigators facing prosecution, Bisio Training has unravelled, in an easy to follow flow chart, who is likely to be affected by the licensing regime in April 2015.
|Link to Bisio Flow Chart|| || || |
|How to request your Personal Information|
| You have the right to get a copy of the information that is held about you. This is known as a subject access request.|
This right of subject access means that you can make a request under the Data Protection Act to any organisation processing your personal data. The Act calls these organisations ‘data controllers’.
You can ask the organisation you think is holding, using or sharing the personal information you want, to supply you with copies of both paper and computer records and related information.
Read the rest of the Article at:
|ICO article|| || || |
|Making Training SENDA complient|
| Bisio Training looks at the current trends in delivering training particularly in light of the number of providers now offering the Level 3 Award for Professional Investigators, the nationally recognised qualification for Investigators. We look particularly at distance learning and how to avoid cutting corners and disadvantaging up to 20% of the work age population in the UK.|
In May 2001 the Government passed the Special Educational Needs and Disability Act (SENDA) which amends the 1995 Disability Discrimination Act (DDA), including, with effect from 1 September 2002, the removal from exemption of further and higher education institutions from Part IV of the DDA which concerns discrimination against disabled students and prospective students.
It is now unlawful for bodies responsible for educational institutions to discriminate against disabled students in the provision of ‘student services’ and responsible bodies are required to provide certain types of reasonable adjustments to provision where disabled students or other disabled people might otherwise be substantially disadvantaged.
What type of learning is this likely to affect and what is meant by ‘substantial disadvantage’ under the Act?
The Disability Rights Commission has issued a Code of Practice (Disability Rights Commission, 2002) relating to Post 16 Education and notes that student services include, amongst other things:
• Teaching, including classes, lectures, seminars, practical sessions;
• Distance learning and
• Independent learning opportunities such as e-learning.
In simplistic terms a ‘substantial disadvantage’, can relate to the time, inconvenience, effort or discomfort entailed in comparison with other people or students.
A student may seek redress through the courts, which will determine the rights of the case, and may award compensation or impose an injunction or interdict to ensure any discriminatory practices are reviewed.
At Bisio Training, we provide the course through e-learning. As a result, we approached the whole thing from the outset by heeding to the advice of Tim Berners-Lee, the inventor of the World Wide Web when he said:-
‘Access by everyone regardless of disability is an essential aspect.’
This is why all our e-learning content is Level A (Priority 1) SENDA compliant. We see designing for accessibility as much as an art as a science and used our own experience and intuition to interpret the guidelines so as to adopt an inclusive approach rather than seeing accessibility as a hurdle to jump over. The design of the e-learning, which is based on best practise, is clean and simple to navigate and the content is totally relevant. We have catered for those students with communication impairment by providing clear alternatives where necessary.
For more information of the Special Educational Needs and Disability Act 2001visit http://www.legislation.gov.uk/ukpga/2001/10/contents.
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