Friday, 4 September 2009

We do like to be beside the (Morecambe) seaside!

A fabulous evocation of the seaside entertainment and holiday atmosphere, enjoyed by millions in Morecambe’s heyday, is provided by the resort’s forthcoming ‘We do like to be beside the sea!’ festival.

The festival takes place over the weekend 12th and 13th September and centres on the Platform venue and seafront in Morecambe where, as the town’s old motto proclaims, ‘Beauty surrounds and health abounds’.

A fantastic array of entertainment and attractions will be featured including a proliferation of Punch and Judy professors, escapology and sword swallowing, a flea circus, salty storytelling, sea songs and shanties, a pierrot troupe and a seaside variety show, which includes ‘The Great Deckchair Challenge!’

There will also be sand sculpting, an aerial display by the RAF Battle of Britain Memorial Flight and the annual visit of the Bradford to Morecambe Historic Vehicle Run. A vintage bus and coach will provide a special express service along the promenade.

Almost all daytime events are free, with a modest charge for evening concerts at The Platform.

Full details are available in the festival programme, available from Morecambe and Lancaster Visitor Information Centres and Customer Service Centres at Lancaster and Morecambe Town Halls.

• For more information telephone 01524 582808 or visit .

Wednesday, 2 September 2009

ID cards to be linked to police records?

(Updated 3/9/09): Investigations by an online IT news site suggest millions of British people working in education in health or as volunteers could come under pressure to be fingerprinted and obtain a national ID card.

The claims have been condemned by worried pressure groups, but government bodies insist they claims are unfounded.

Research by online IT magazine The Register has uncovered proposals to use ID cards and the national database behind them to support Criminal Records Bureau (CRB) checks – which are due to be extended to many more categories of people.

From October this year, people working in all sort of roles will be compelled to be registered with a new vetting body the Independent Safeguarding Authority, which may eventually keep tabs on around 11 million workers and volunteers at any one time. ‘Enhanced’ CRB checks mean not just criminal records, but police intelligence files containing suspicions, opinions and unsubstantiated allegations, may be used for the purpose.

To make this massive administrative task a manageable one, officials are aiming to use the Home Office’s ID database, which is going ahead. ID records and police intelligence records would end up connected for millions. One of the most frightening predictions of campaigners against ID cards - that the ID scheme will be an easy reference to all official files and a key to the most private information about every one of us - could be coming true before a single ID card has been issued.

"This is entirely consistent with the various forms of coercion strategy they've been working on to create so-called volunteers for ID cards," commented Phil Booth, National Coordinator of NO2ID, a UK-wide non-partisan campaign against ID cards and the database state.

"Biometrics are part of the search for clean, unique identifiers. But it's patently ridiculous given another part of the plan has people registering fingerprints in high street shops."

"Ministers are always quick to point out the ID database itself will not contain criminal records," added Guy Herbert, General Secretary of NO2ID. "The covert programme unearthed by The Register shows what a fatuous piece of misdirection that is.

"If the CRB gets its way, then for millions of people their ID card would be directly linked to a detailed police record and a scoring system designed to evaluate their suitability for various jobs."

Responding to the reports, the CRB says there are no plans for such databases.

“There are no plans for the CRB to take or retain applicants’ fingerprints in a database," a Criminal Records Bureau spokesperson told virtual-lancaster.

“Police already fingerprint a small number of applicants where there is an issue with verifying their identity and check it against relevant criminal records. The CRB is working with the Police to make the process faster and easier for these applicants each year.

“The CRB's overall accuracy rate remains extremely high with 99.96 per cent of disclosures issued accurately, although the CRB's aim is always to issue 100 per cent of disclosures free from error.”

Web Links

NO2ID list of 'database state' initiatives

NO2ID Data Sharing Information

Find out how the government is joining the dots in your life to keep an eye on everyone

The Register, 27th August: CRB looks to ID cards to solve accuracy woes

The Guardian, 17th June: There's no escape from the past in this kangaroo court