23 April 2015

Celebrities and cameras

WA Today reports that a WA police officer has been charged over disclosing information about Ben Cousins to the officer's friend, who is a journalist. It's a somewhat muddled report -
Seven News reporter Monique Dirksz, who was in a relationship with a police officer charged with disclosing secret information to her about Ben Cousins.
A policeman has been charged over leaking confidential information about the arrest of Ben Cousins to a Channel 7 Perth news reporter he was in a relationship with.
The 29-year-old first class constable was stood down immediately after the incident, amid an investigation by the Internal Affairs Unit.
On Tuesday, Constable Jamieson was charged with four counts of disclosing official secrets. He will appear in Perth Magistrates Court on May 5.
Acting Police Commissioner Steve Brown said police would allege the information divulged by the officer was "not within the remit" of his work "and that it gave an advantage to that particular journalist".
... Mr Brown said the tip-off allegedly provided to Ms Dirksz had led her to be outside Fremantle Police Station at 2am - the exact time Cousins was released on bail from the station. His exit was captured on camera, with Channel 7 running "exclusive" vision and Ms Dirksz participating in multiple radio interviews the next day.
Mr Brown told 6PR Radio that 112 police officers, including some in regional WA, had accessed Cousins' police record 300 times in two days through the computer aided dispatch system. Information was also accessed about former West Coast Eagle Daniel Kerr.
"About half are going to clearly be what has been described as professional curiosity and we agree with that. Those officers have absolutely nothing to fear," Mr Brown told 6PR Mornings host Gary Adshead.
Secret, confidential, professional curiosity ...

The report states -
"The remaining half we are still working through to try and identify why they would have accessed that record. From where the investigation is currently at, those officers weren't working at the time or weren't working in close proximity. They had no need – 10 of them or thereabouts were working in regional Western Australia."
Nine of the 112 have been previously disciplined over similar breaches, he said.
"We want to know why they have accessed these records. It's a breach of trust."
Some curiosity kills some cats, it seems, although recurrent breaches might raise questions about the effectiveness of the previous discipline.

Brown is reported as indicating -
 advice had suggested that Ms Dirksz had done nothing wrong and no criminal charges had been laid against her.
"We expect that journalists right across the sector have people that they speak to. They'll source information about what's happening... But for the police, from an agency perspective, we're talking about officers here, or an officer, who disclosed information they didn't have the right to do," he said.
"It is an absolute breach of trust not only for this agency but for the community at large. The community needs to know that police officers are looking after the integrity of the information."
In Victoria the Herald-Sun reports on plans to equip the state's 220 highway patrol cars with ANPR cameras (at a cost of $86 million) "to spy on errant drivers, bikies, and suspected terrorists". The characteristically breathless report, based on an 88 page report by Deloitte accessed under FOI, indicates that the cameras would
 feed vision, live, to a central intelligence base. ... the ANPR cameras would save lives by reducing numbers of dangerous drivers.
Linking the cameras to a central unit sharing, sorting and storing footage could also help police track vehicles associated with known terrorists, outlaw bikies, burglars, sex offenders and arsonists, it says.
The cameras, which can scan and record thousands of numberplates a minute and check them against vehicle, criminal and sheriff’s office records, could gather intelligence on “persons of interest” and identify patterns of behaviour and relationships.
Consistent with the usual rhetoric - and ignoring cautions such as those noted here and here -  the report
warns that Victoria’s failure to formally adopt ANPR technology — all other states have done so — is hampering law enforcement and efforts to cut the road toll.
Deloitte says the force lacks an advanced intelligence capacity to find vehicles of interest, and correlate their movements, from among hundreds of thousands of numberplates, times and places that would be captured daily.
It recommends a staged rollout, so the required infrastructure can be built and any necessary changes to privacy laws can be debated.
VicRoads estimates 38,000 unlicensed drivers take to the state’s roads every day, and on average one is involved in a fatal crash every fortnight. If the cameras were fitted to all 220 highway patrol cars, Deloitte estimates an additional 120,000 unregistered cars a year and nearly 66,000 dodgy drivers would be caught.
Deloitte found each of five pilot ANPR units fitted to police cars was detecting an average of 53 unregistered vehicles and 33 unlicensed, disqualified or suspended drivers a month, compared with just seven vehicles and 14 drivers for regular highway patrols. They scanned more than four million numberplates in the nine months to last October, detecting 84,000 unlicensed drivers and 53,000 unregistered vehicles.