Thursday, 8 May 2008

Yet another facet of our "Big Brother" society

It's being reported a number of private sector employers are clubbing together to produce an online database of workers accused of dishonesty and theft. The National Staff Dismissal Register (NSDR) is going live later this month.

Reed Managed Services, Mothercare, Harrods and Selfridges are amongst the companies who have signed up for the scheme which will allow them to check whether job applicants have faced allegations of causing loss to employers & suppliers, fraud, forgery, damaging company property and theft.

Employees who have had any of these charges levelled at them will be included on the database regardless of whether the Police have charged them with any crime. Workers who have left their jobs before disciplinary action commenced will also be included in the lists.

The TUC and Liberty have raised serious concerns about this database. TUC spokesperson Hannah Reed said:
"The TUC is seriously concerned that this register can only lead to people being shut out from the job market by an employer who falsely accuses them of misconduct or sacks them because they bear them a grudge. Individuals would be treated as criminals, even though the police have never been contacted."

"The Criminal Records Bureau was set up to assist employers to make safe appointments when recruiting staff to work with vulnerable groups. The CRB already provides appropriate and properly regulated protection for employers. Under the new register, an employee may not be aware they have been blacklisted or have any right to appeal."

Liberty's Legal Director James Welch added:
"This scheme appears to bypass existing laws which protect employees by limiting the circumstances when information about possible criminal activity can be shared with potential employers."

I would ask that all Lib Dems reading this who are as appalled at this gross invasion of our privacy as I am, please contact our Lib Dem MP's and ask them to get a campaign together to stop this monstrosity. These matters should be a matter for the Police and Courts not unaccountable private firms.

P.S. This is actually quite scary as last night I finished reading "The Dark River" which is book 2 of John Twelve Hawks Fourth Realm trilogy in which "Travellers" battle to stop "The Brethren" from creating a 21st century world-wide version of Jeremy Bentham's Pantopticon and here I find a facet of it in real life UK.

1 comment:

Bernard Salmon said...

Absolutely right, Iain. I suspect that not only does this database breach the Data Protection Act, those involved are leaving themselves wide open to a libel action if anyone wrongly accused of such misdemeanours finds out they're on the database.
Also, even if someone has been convicted of an offence, their convictions are considered 'spent' after a number of years. From the sound of it, I doubt very much whether there'd be any time limit on this database.