So much of our lives are out there on various databases that it has become increasingly difficult if you live in the modern world to escape intrusions in the way of unwanted emails, post or telephone calls interrupting your life. Every contact you make seems to spawn a plethora of unwanted contacts back and some of those contacts are persistent to the point of bloody rudeness. Yet you’d think that some organisations would be a little more careful with your details? Actually scratch that, I know whom I’m writing to here in a sense, trust in authority is in sparse quantity amongst those who come here to read.
Police forces have received millions of pounds for passing on the details of road accident victims to claims management companies, insurers and lawyers, it has emerged.
It may have led to thousands of people being pursued by “cash for crash” companies looking to profit out of personal injury claims, vehicle repairs and providing a replacement car.
Police forces denied making a profit, insisting the money they received was merely covering their administrative costs in providing details to insurers after a crash. Three forces — Fife, Hampshire and the Metropolitan Police — have admitted giving the contact details of more than 16,000 people to third parties. It is believed the practice is adopted by other forces, although they declined to provide details to LV.
The Met admitted it had been paid more than £5 million since 2009; Hampshire has received £480,000 since 2010, while Fife has been paid £194,000, a freedom of information request by LV Insurance found.
Jack Straw, the former Home Secretary who led a parliamentary campaign to curb accident claims companies, described the passing on of information as “scandalous”. “It is completely unacceptable that the police and public services are selling data in this way,” he said.
The problem for the government of course is that nowhere in the rules does it say they can’t. That plus expecting common decency from public services in keeping your details to themselves is rather laughable. Private companies perhaps would be a bit more circumspect, though again it is private companies who are buying the data to use and names and addresses once on a database seem to be bandied about with scant regard to whether the details are relevant or that the people contacted on these databases actually wish to be hounded by anyone.
Normally I’m not in favour of the state intervening on anything but the absolute minimum level in our lives. However the details held in their databases are ours, not the peoples who are handing them over. Perhaps it ought to be a criminal offence for a public service to hand over any such details.
In the end though it comes down to money.
Companies are prepared to pay for the details and the public services use the money to offset some of their costs (or pay for junkets, who knows) Yet those details are ours and once they are handed over there is no control over who gets to see or use them next.
Perhaps in this case there should be a law against it?