Schneier on Security
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January 22, 2009
New Police Computer System Impeding Arrests
In Queensland, Australia, policemen are arresting fewer people because their new data-entry system is too annoying:
He said police were growing reluctant to make arrests following the latest phased roll-out of QPRIME, or Queensland Police Records Information Management Exchange.
"They are reluctant to make arrests and they're showing a lot more discretion in the arrests they make because QPRIME is so convoluted to navigate," Mr Leavers said. He said minor street offences, some traffic offences and minor property matters were going unchallenged, but not serious offences.
However, Mr Leavers said there had been occasions where offenders were released rather than kept in custody because of the length of time it now took to prepare court summaries.
"There was an occasion where two people were arrested on multiple charges. It took six detectives more than six hours to enter the details into QPRIME," he said. "It would have taken even longer to do the summary to go to court the next morning, so basically the suspects were released on bail, rather than kept in custody."
He said jobs could now take up to seven hours to process because of the amount of data entry involved.
This is a good example of how non-security incentives affect security decisions.
Posted on January 22, 2009 at 1:51 PM
• 27 Comments
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Does anybody remember Hill Street Blues? Whenever Det. Belcher arrested anybody, he would sit them down in a chair and start filling out the form, on a manual typewriter.
"Name!" he'd bark.
The detainee would provide a name, and Mick would enter it into the form at a data rate of slightly less than one character per second (stabbing each key with an index finger).
Errors would be cleared by violently ripping the page out of the typewriter and starting again.
But this sounds more efficient than the QPRIME implementation described.
>What else is there?
The Smoking Gun (which is run by Court TV) frequently has arrest reports of interesting personalities, or other silly documents. If you waste several hours there (and I assure you that you will, because looking at that stuff is like eating potato chips - no one can do just one), you'll see all sorts of variations in arrest reports and other documentation.
The English system is likewise bad, as the police spend more time documenting what they did, who they talked to, were they informed of rights, what races were involved, etc, that they spend more time filling out paperwork than doing actual policework.
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