Data Protection My Arse
A common thread seems to be that a huge amount of agencies are just chucking data on discs and throwing it into an internal mail system that seems highly inadequate. I thought it might interest my readers to hear about some of the strict information-handling rules that govern the police's work, to make sure this sort of tomfoolery doesn't happen in Blandmore.
One of the main systems in place is Protective Marking. The thinking behind it is that if a word is stamped on each sensitive document in big red letters, it will not fall into the wrong hands. The markings available are:
- Top Secret.
- Restricted documents should be sealed in an envelope within another envelope and kept in a secure building.
- Confidential documents should be sealed in an envelope which is sealed within a third envelope, and kept in a locked room within a secure building.
- I don't know what happens to Secret and Top Secret documents, but I imagine one of the rules is that PC Bloggs isn't allowed to know what happens to them.
- Restricted documents: often contain information about defendants, court cases, etc. It's not life-threatening if people read this stuff, but it is private. The papers are therefore carefully tied together with a treasury tag in no kind of envelope whatsoever and sent loose to the file unit, which is an unlocked portakabin. Alternatively, they are left on the dashboards of panda cars where the public can wander past and read them, or on the roof of the panda so they float off down the road to be handed in later at the front counter.
- Confidential documents: contain information about people's criminal convictions and bad character, home addresses, dates of birth, vehicles driven, crimes they have reported and their physical description. They are therefore handled in a far stricter manner, and indeed are usually bundled together with the Restricted papers and treated in exactly the same way.
- Secret/Top Secret documents: this is serious stuff relating to covert operations, terrorist suspects, police informants etc. If it falls into the wrong hands, someone could die or a war could start. I have no idea how these documents are handled, but if anyone knows a Secret Service agent they could ask please get back to me. I wouldn't be at all surprised if the answer is similar.
I'm not suggesting any kind of scandal. Most of these documents are useless and boring to anyone who finds them. It would also be extremely inconvenient and stupid to handle it in the way the scheme suggests - court file envelopes would have to be opened, re-opened and opened again before they reached their final destination, and would therefore require about fifteen envelopes each.
In case you're wondering, we're not given training in how to handle these documents (I looked it up on the Internet). But it doesn't matter, because we have the utmost faith in our internal mail system, which is perfect.
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