It's not Big Brother himself you've got to be wary of, it's all his snotty nosed junior siblings that you need to keep your beady eye on.
Councils have been given access to the records of the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA) specifically for the purpose of tracing owners of abandoned cars. But it transpires that not only are they not following correct account procedures they are using the database for anything else that takes their fancy.
A report in the Express tells of an audit of 155 of the 432 local authorities that were given access to the database. It found that the database had been interrogated 750 times a day on average. But the reasons for doing so were about as far from abandoned car-related as you can get. Things like horse fouling, littering and dog related complaints. Councils were effectively using the system to fish for information.
56 local authority chief executives were sent 'red-coded warnings' and 99 others received warnings. 12 that failed to make the required changes to their procedures were banned from using the system. From the Express these are "Nottingham City and Ashfield in Nottinghamshire; Corby in Northamptonshire; Brighton and Hove, ÂHastings and Lewes, all in East Sussex; ÂElmbridge in Surrey; Hull in East ÂYorkshire; Tower Hamlets in east ÂLondon; ÂBlackpool in Lancashire; ÂBedford in Bedfordshire and Stroud, Gloucestershire".
Now, I don't know about you but I have not seen an abandoned car in weeks. So handing out access to databases just for this one reason sounds like lazy administration to me. After all what does bobby on the beat do when he sees a potentially abandoned car? Also, if I did see one I am more likely to telephone the police about it than my local council.
Admittedly, the problem for councils is that they are responsible for the removal (and therefore the cost) of abandoned cars.
Checking of a few council web-sites shows that they are asking the public to report abandoned cars to them, the council, with all sorts of stuff about how the cars could have been involved in crime etc. Now call me old fashioned but surely the first port of call for this is the police, who are far better equipped to deal with the forensics and investigations involved.
Then the police can hand over a safe and clean crime scene to the council to clear up.
According to the Express the powers to use the system were also recently upgraded to investigate "SDHp environmental crimes', whatever they are.
It looks to me like the councils are trying to put their noses where they are not needed.