Monday, 29 September 2008

UK Police National Legal Database: is it legal, what to do etc

Do you sometimes wonder if something is legal or not, or what to do in relation to an incident? I just found a very useful searchable Police National Legal Database (by area), for the UK only, when I was trying to find out info for a friend whose wing mirror got clipped by some b*^%&*# who tailgated my friend first, overtook in a single lane, but didn't stop, not even to see if his own car had been damaged. (The answer: report it to police in 24 hours if there was damage. It was only a scratch/chip so my friend isn't going to bother even though my friend took down his registration number and noted the time and place, as it's unlikely they'd prosecute anyway.)

I'm blogging about the PNLD because as well as generally useful information like:
- there's all sorts of interesting stuff on there which is relevant to the internet, databases and digital rights, even things which really aren't crime-related matters, which are mostly written very clearly and concisely - e.g. on:
And, err, to pass the time (or something), there's "Question of the Day" - like "Can I shoot the birds in my garden?" (I'm not joking!) There's also Can I move a bird's nest - that's the Wildlife & Countryside Act, wouldja believe - and interesting tidbits like Ages - when are you old enough (5 for a premium bond in the child's name, 10 to be held criminally responsible etc). A gold mine for fans of trivia and "interesting facts", really it is. Fun as well as useful! No RSS feed for "Question of the Day", alas - maybe they should introduce one.

You can also view queries by category (e.g. internet, data protection), and even ask a new question if yours hasn't been answered. I imagine all new answers will then be added to their database, judging by some of the ones I've seen which seem to overlap a little or are shall we say "interesting", like Who can play Father Christmas at a school or local fete! I've not tested how quickly it takes them to answer a question, but I plan to.

A niggle: they don't tell people that they can sue spammers, in their tips on stopping spam - and surely they should at least point out that it's a criminal offence in the UK to send spam?

Cynical me didn't think I'd say this of a UK official body's online service - but really, whoever did it and is answering questions on it: good job!

(Just to repeat - it's only on the position in the UK, not the USA etc.)

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