All a bit minority report but…..

Councils are said to be using hundreds of thousands of people’s data to try and predict child abuse, it has emerged.

Five local authorities, Thurrock, Brent, Bristol, Hackney and Newham are accused of using 377,000 people’s data to create an algorithm which would allow social workers to intervene with families perceived of as needing attention from child services.

Among the information gathered are school attendance and exclusion records, housing association repairs and arrears information, and police records on antisocial behaviour and domestic violence, according to The Guardian.

But the Information Commissioners Office (ICO) told The Telegraph it was looking into the practice.

A spokesman said: “All organisations have a duty to look after personal information in their care but records involving children – often sensitive personal data – require particularly robust measures.

“The use of predictive analytics to for child safeguarding is clearly an activity that is likely to have a significant impact on the privacy of individuals.

“We would therefore expect any council using such technology to have fully considered the privacy risks, including conducting a thorough Data Protection Impact Assessment,and to have taken steps to address those risks.

“We will be making further enquiries to ensure that the use of this technology is compliant with data protection law.”

It’s an obvious enough area to be trying to use AI to predict problems. What are the common factors etc? Any warning signs etc?

We could even aid in writing the decision tree.

Has Mummy got a new scrote boyfriend?

45 thoughts on “All a bit minority report but…..”

  1. Probably more like:

    Have you expressed unapproved (non-PC) opinions?
    Have you ever voted for someone other than labour?
    Have you ever criticised cultural diversity?

    Answer yes to any of the above, we’ll take your kids because you’re guilty of wrongthink.

  2. Bloke in North Dorset

    It says something when data privacy seems to be the only issue they’re concerned with.

    If this is going to work properly they need to include all data, including that which makes lefties uncomfortable: race, religion, ethnicity sex, gender etc. Looking at those councils I’d be surprised if they had.

    More importantly, what are they going to do about false positives, bureaucrats being notorious for being lazy and relying on “the computer says …”?

    AI has the potential to be a great tool, but like all computer systems GIGO.

  3. It says something when data privacy seems to be the only issue they’re concerned with.

    It, along with FOIA / EIR disclosures, are the only aspect the ICO are allowed to be interested in.

    There are two DP questions here – one is the “automated profiling” issue – which was an issue under DPA98 so isn’t a GDPR imposition (although your rights are slightly stronger).
    The other is the collection of additional data that councils wouldn’t usually hold (and the additional use of data that they do hold.)

    There is quite clearly a “public task” lawful basis for processing, and, I think, a “obligations in the field of social protection law” lawful basis for sensitive PII.

    There have already been a number of fines (although I couldn’t find the case I was hoping to post here) for councils over the use of automated profiling.

  4. allow social workers to intervene with families perceived of as needing attention from child services.

    So they can intervene when they think a child is at risk of abuse, remove from it from the parents and place it in care.

    Where it will definitely get abused.

  5. Given the ability of social services to bungle and foozle peoples’ lives it’s encouraging to know that they will be able in future to do so more scientifically.

  6. From the Grauniad article on the same:

    The software can be used to generate revenue for the council through the Troubled Families payments-by-results scheme. Xantura’s website advertises how its products can help local authorities “maximise PBR [payment-by-results] payments” from the government as well as reduce child safeguarding costs.

    Under the Troubled Families scheme, councils are paid £1,000 for each family they sign up to the programme, with a further payment of £800 when the family meets certain criteria.

    The more families you can sign up for social services attention, the more money you make. Incentives?

    “Answer yes to any of the above, we’ll take your kids because you’re guilty of wrongthink.”

    Yes. Exactly.

    https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-20474120

    When proposing any powerful new tool of social control, always, always, always consider what happens when your ideological enemies get their hands on it.

  7. Except that mummy’s new boyfriend won’t appear in the system, because if he declared he was living with her, her benefits would be cut.

    So the single most useful piece of information isn’t even available to them.

  8. “Has Mummy got a new scrote boyfriend?”

    Is this not one of the biggest factors in predicting child abuse? Men tend to kill other men’s children. I reckon if you listed every woman with young children living with someone not the father of their offspring, you’d have a list that would include a large percentage of the child murders and assaults that would take place over the coming years.

  9. What Rob said.

    A bit like holding a referendum again and again until the ‘right’ answer is given and becomes definitive, so the algorithms of AI would be tinkered with and tinkered with until they came up with the ‘right’ answer at which point AI would be declared omnipotent.

  10. Haven’t they already said elsewhere that having a UKIP pamphlet on the coffee table causes the visiting social worker to clutch her pearls and rush outside, gasping for air?

    So I’m thinking that has a higher weighting than “mummy’s boyfriend is black with a string of drug offenses”.

  11. “Jim

    …Men tend to kill other men’s children.”

    I suppose it the broadest of contexts, everyone is a child of man and so when a man kills someone they are killing another man’s child.

    But I’m guessing your context wasn’t so broad?

    If we’re going to be boring and statistical*, for children under 5 the most likely murderer is the child’s mother, then the child’s father (who, again statistically, is much more likely than not to commit suicide after the murder).

    For children over 5, the killer is most likely extra-familial but not always totally unknown but there’s no suggestion that the most dangerous person around is a new boyfriend.

    *A recent survey of a decade of consecutive child homicides in England, by Colin Pritchard and Tony Sayer published in the British Journal of Social Work.

  12. “If we’re going to be boring and statistical*, for children under 5 the most likely murderer is the child’s mother,”

    And how many of those are living with a man not the father of her children?

  13. What C_D and BiND say + 1

    Also, child protection services are notoriously ineffective. Social workers tend to over-react or under-react, and often fail to make an appropriate intervention. They do more harm than good in this area. Decisions are often ideologically driven. And rates of recidivism by offenders are high.

    CO services could be abolished with no great loss.

  14. Several years ago I met a woman, friend of a friend, who had a boy taken into care because the social didn’t like her “life choces”. The foster parents killed him. She received AUD40,000 for her trouble and bought a new car which was parked outside at the time.

    I can’t help thinking if it’s common enough that it’s happened to someone I’ve actually met…

  15. I know a couple who had their three children placed in care and subsequently adopted….The youngest, a boy, touched another boy’s anus at school. School mistress had a fit of the vapours and called in social services. The little boy indicated that mummy touched his anus, meaning when she bathed him she ensured his bottom was clean.

    The parents are eccentric and they are fanatical Lib Dem activists. They won’t have central heating or carpets in their untidy but clean home. The mother is high-handed and very upper class in speech and manner – her aged nanny (known as Nit-nit) lived with them at the time. The social workers disapproved of their lifestyle; and the rest is history.

  16. The neighbours will have the most up to date information. This won’t appear as input to the algo because
    People don’t like (to be) snitches
    They don’t trust CP
    They may have a grudge.

  17. “This won’t appear as input to the algo because”

    That does lead one to wonder about the inputs that Tim is proposing. Do we propose to have a national database of who everyone’s boyfriend is, which we combine with another national database of which men are classified as “scrote boyfriends”? Or even just “scrotes”? Where does the data for either of those come from? What precise sort of ‘Surveillance State’ are we proposing here, actually?

    Actually, that sounds like the sort of thing Tinder might have better data on! Perhaps there is a commercial opportunity here?

    If women can pay £5 to get their ex-boyfriend classified as “scrote” on the ‘National Scrote Database’ and men can pay £20 to get the classification removed, it would result in a highly profitable money fountain for the company running the database…

  18. Theophrastus,

    I’ve never understood why we don’t see people involved in taking children away and having them adopted in totally unreasonable circumstances being bumped off by the aggrieved parents. I know if it happened to me I’d be up for revenge, maybe take something that is important to them, like a limb or eyesight.

  19. “I’ve never understood why we don’t see people involved in taking children away and having them adopted in totally unreasonable circumstances being bumped off by the aggrieved parents.”

    Because when parents are the sort to openly exhibit violent tendencies, anger-management issues, and to issue credible death threats and threats of grievous bodily harm against social workers, or have been jailed for their murder and torture, the circumstances are not considered “totally unreasonable”!

    Do you think that genuinely-abusive parents have never thought of saying/doing the same? And are not rather more inclined and capable of doing it than Mr and Mrs Middle-Class?

    Social workers are, of course, routinely threatened with violence.

    https://www.belfasttelegraph.co.uk/news/northern-ireland/rape-torture-murder-grim-litany-of-threats-and-assaults-on-northern-ireland-social-workers-36981456.html

    But you ask a good question about why don’t we see it being reported more often – perhaps because it happens so often that it’s no longer ‘news’?

  20. I’m not talking about parents who openly exhibit violent tendencies, NiV. If you have your children taken by the state and adopted then they are lost to you. In such circumstances, I’d consider my life destroyed and would be more than a little tempted, in my grief, to visit retribution on those who were responsible.

    By the way, MrsBud is a mental health social worker.

  21. “Because when parents are the sort to openly exhibit violent tendencies, anger-management issues, and to issue credible death threats and threats of grievous bodily harm against social workers, or have been jailed for their murder and torture, the circumstances are not considered “totally unreasonable”!”

    You don’t need any of that shit to kill some fucker for taking your kids away from you and spoiling your family. It is likely the weak hope that if they suck bureaucratic dick hard enough then their children and their life might be restored to them. That is the additional mental agony that bureau-shite impose. If folks KNEW that their kids childhood and their family life was definitely over once the SS struck we would be knee deep in “care workers” whose cares had been permanently solved.

    This whole caper sounds like Bliar’s legacy still trying to force its way into the pan like the poisoned turd it is. For was it not Bliar who proposed to take kids pre-emptively away from “problem” families and into the state’s care. The answer is Yes.

    As MC and others have pointed out those unfortunates stolen by the state have even higher chances of being abused and becoming criminals under the State’s TLC than they do staying with their dodgy parents.

    But since when did a bad idea being bad ever stop the scum of the left–Bliarite or otherwise?

  22. Spying on citizens is justified if we prevent one misdemeanor.

    A major reason for privacy rights is to keep people from having to explain the ordinary.

    Algorithms produce suggestions, not facts. Government acting on suggestions is evil.

  23. DocBud

    I suspect they are intimidated by the court processes. The two eccentrics I mentioned above certainly were.

    Their two daughters have ‘settled’ with their adoptive parents. The little boy hasn’t, but he can never return to his biological parents. All access is now denied.

    The parents are Lib Dem activists (always a warning sign in my book!), but actually they are very conservative, traditional church-goers – which probably didn’t endear them to the social workers.

    I find it deplorable that the state has so much quite arbitrary power over families and their children.

    NiV

    BASW is not an unbiased source. Having had dealings with social workers when managing a group of care homes, I think social workers could be safely abolished. The voluntary sector would soon fill any genuine gaps.

    TGs doubtless approve of social workers, as they are ideologically sympathetic to the delusions of TGs.

  24. Theo–so effectively these friends of yours have lost their kids as completely as if they were dead or been kidnapped McCann-style. Because their little lad said the kind of silly thing that kids say.

    What the Hell are they waiting for? If there ever is a time and reason some POS taking your children away forever is surely it.

  25. “I’m not talking about parents who openly exhibit violent tendencies, NiV.”

    You don’t think “bumped off” or “take something that is important to them, like a limb or eyesight” constitutes “violent tendencies”?

    Part of the problem is that *everyone* considers their own behaviour to be perfectly reasonable. What social workers are looking out for are people who consider violent assault and retribution to be justifiable/acceptable/reasonable responses to being crossed. Parents who think it’s “reasonable” to beat their kids if they misbehave, or cause them trouble. Parents who teach the same attitude to their kids – that if someone hurts you, an appropriate response is to kill them or gouge out their eyes.

    And when they’re called in, social workers are making decisions for incredibly high stakes with insufficient information – and moreover are often young and experienced people, as fallible as anyone else, who have to steer their own path amid the pressures of politics and career and the media and public scrutiny, have to deal with the police and courts, and trade those demands off against the interests of the kids. They’re very well aware of the costs to other people’s lives! If you’ve got a relative who works in that area, you already know all this.

    So when they turn up in response to a report, they’ve got to figure out whether the accusation is credible. If you set the bar too high, you might leave a child to suffer alone. If you set the bar too low, you might destroy an innocent family. But the two options overlap – there is no threshold that doesn’t result in errors of one sort or the other, and usually results in both. The game is rigged against you – you’re guaranteed to lose sometimes, to make mistakes, one way and the other. You’re interviewing parents who will go to great lengths to deceive you and portray themselves as wronged innocents. You’re interviewing kids who may have been threatened to keep them quiet, or who don’t trust you to protect them, or are more scared of care than the life they know. Or, quite often, are sufficiently messed up to claim to want it. And they’re supposed to decide on the basis of hearsay and a couple of hours of interviews. It’s inevitably going to be an imperfect process – and they’re likely to be influenced by superficial impressions.

    So when some parent is observed to have been threatening to “take something that is important to them, like a limb or eyesight”, that’s precisely the sort of thing that’s going to get you categorised as a danger. (Nor will it endear you to the social workers personally!) They could probably track down your ‘social media’ posts to get an idea of your ‘real character’, when you’re not in ‘polite mode’ being interviewed by child protection workers. It’s the sort of “objective evidence” that impresses judges.

    And yes, I know what you probably meant was that you’re not normally violent and wouldn’t even consider it in any other circumstances, but that having your children taken away could push you to it. And that the comments above are just venting your feelings of anger and meant rhetorically. But this is always the problem with 20:20 hindsight – when some nutter goes postal with a suicide bomb, and the media dig out all their posts threatening to do exactly that, that the authorities knew all about and did nothing to stop. The problem is that the internet is *full* of blustering bullshitters who make threats they don’t mean. And the authorities have no magic method for distinguishing the real ones from the fake. (Something AI might one day be able to help with, but not without serious dangers.)

    The more “noise” there is of angry bluster and bullshit, the harder it is to pick up the “signal” of people who are genuinely dangerous. Is this helping the situation?

    And if you do truly mean it, do you really think it’s wise to pre-confess to it this way?

  26. “I think social workers could be safely abolished. The voluntary sector would soon fill any genuine gaps.”

    Volunteers like the SJWs?

  27. Our youngest turned 21 last week so we’re a little passed having the kids taken away.

    We only get one life, if somebody suffers a massive, life destroying injustice at the hands of the state and its agents, I would fully understand them taking violent retribution because I know it would seriously cross my mind. Just as, while being opposed to the death penalty, I’m not opposed to the families of victims exacting revenge on murderers, rapists, child molesters and the like.

  28. You think vigilante justice is any more reliable?

    What happens when the mob turns up on your own doorstep? Would you be opposed to the families of social workers exacting revenge on their murderers, for example?

    Everyone involved on *both* sides of a violent blood feud is always fully convinced that they’re only avenging injustice. It’s what motivates SJWs and jihadis, too. It’s very human, and perfectly understandable. But humans are idiots. And they have different opinions on what’s ‘reasonable’.

    The State is to be feared primarily because it is made up of humans granted the power to do the sort of things all humans want to do.

  29. You are a crawling worm NiV.

    That SJW shite has poisoned you right to your feeble and vacuous heart . Sooner or later the bullshit–even yours– runs out and the fist rules. You don’t like it -but that is how it is.

  30. See what I mean?

    Imagine an SJW with Mr Ecks’ attitude to wrongdoers had the power of the State…

    “The fist rules…” Oh deary me…

  31. Bloke in North Dorset

    “Volunteers like the SJWs?”

    SJWs never volunteer. They might work for charities in well paid jobs, ideally in fake charities so they don’t have to worry too much about grubby things like raising money, but never at the sharp end. They wouldn’t be SJWs if they did.

  32. Whoever the opposition is NiV you won’t be much of a problem for them. And the fist is indeed the ultimate arbiter.

    After you have let all your “foreign” mates in to the country and they aren’t converting to how you think they should live as opposed to Jihadi style–I suggest you go and explain the error of their ways to them.

    I really want the DVD of that occasion.

  33. “SJWs never volunteer.”

    All SJWs are volunteers in the war against racism, sexism, and selfish capitalism. They devote huge amounts of their time – for free – to the cause of fighting them. They take action when the state won’t. They take action when society won’t. Because they understand that if you listen to all the bullshit about “freedom of speech” and “freedom of belief” and “rights”, the racists/sexists/X-ists (should that be Ecks-ists?) will win, spread their poison, and destroy the social progress society they strive for. Wrongthinkers must be Purged from society. They understand that the future of humanity will be decided by people who know that “The fist rules”.

    The future consists of a boot stamping on a human face, forever. We just take turns wearing the boot. All this stuff about “violent retribution” and “fists ruling” is a part of that – it’s exactly how the other side thinks, too. Humans are all the same.

    Same old ‘same old’, in other words.

  34. …the fist rules.

    Not in the long term. All thugs fear mockery, which is why:

    “The pen is mightier than the sword” (Bulwer-Lytton)

    “The tongue is mightier than the blade.” (Euripides)

    “… many wearing rapiers are afraid of goosequills.” (Shakespeare, in Hamlet)

  35. Do you ‘fear’ my mockery? Do I fear yours?

    What all thugs fear is the ‘boot’ of defining/enforcing social norms dropping off their own foot and being given to their enemies. Mockery can be the first stage in that happening.

  36. @roué le jour, September 17, 2018 at 9:56 am

    Yes, a foster family were delisted (potentially racist) & foster child removed for UKIP pamphlet on coffee table. iirc nortern england.

  37. All SJWs are volunteers in the war against racism, sexism, and selfish capitalism. They devote huge amounts of their time – for free – to the cause of fighting them.

    How noble. Fighting a war against opinions they disagree with. And for free!

    They take action when the state won’t. They take action when society won’t.

    So they’re thugs running around intimidating and attacking people they disagree with. Have they stopped to consider that there may be a very good reason (or two or more) why society or the government won’t or shouldn’t act?

    Because they understand that if you listen to all the bullshit about “freedom of speech” and “freedom of belief” and “rights”,

    Showing your true colours here.

    the racists/sexists/X-ists (should that be Ecks-ists?) will win, spread their poison, and destroy the social progress society they strive for.

    What social progress? As you point out, this is more of the same. True progress would be to be free and independent. Minimal government. Few rules, few regulations.
    But we won’t get that until we leave this planet and become a space faring species spread out over the system.

    Wrongthinkers must be Purged from society.

    Your intolerance is showing again.

    They understand that the future of humanity will be decided by people who know that “The fist rules”.

    And yet, they tend to be pretty bad at it.
    https://youtu.be/Qc61iAsVeY8?t=919
    Battle of Portland – antifa kinda got their asses kicked.

    The future consists of a boot stamping on a human face, forever. We just take turns wearing the boot. All this stuff about “violent retribution” and “fists ruling” is a part of that – it’s exactly how the other side thinks, too.

    So progressive and tolerant, to want to be the one wearing the boot.

    Humans are all the same.
    False.

    Same old ‘same old’, in other words.

    Yup.

  38. “Same old ‘same old’, in other words.”

    Same old because it is the end of the line NiV. And hot air can’t and never has been able to top it. Theo–an unlikely supporter for your verbal vomit NiV–is also wrong. A fist in the face tops mockery anyday.

    Now–don’t mistake what I’m saying. These things should not be the first choice of rational , civilised beings or even near the top of any list of responses. But there is nothing reasonable or civilised about your family being abolished and your kids gone forever because of a bunch of CM scum employed by the state have their whims arising from their distorted mentation. There are circs where an uncivilised response is called for and you are crawling scum if you fail to make that response.

  39. Cherneyy–I think NiV was trying to be ironic. But so much SJW poison runs thro his veins that it would not be difficult to believe that is what he actually believes under the thin gold leaf of his talk about liberty.

  40. I honestly couldn’t tell if it was meant to be irony or whether the mask had finally slipped.

    Considering his obsession with forcing everyone to allow men into women’s bathrooms, I leaned to the latter.

  41. The Meissen Bison, Mr Ecks,

    Thank you!

    “Now–don’t mistake what I’m saying. These things should not be the first choice of rational , civilised beings or even near the top of any list of responses. But there is nothing reasonable or civilised about your family being abolished and your kids gone forever because of a bunch of CM scum employed by the state have their whims arising from their distorted mentation.”

    Yes, I agree.

    But having your family abolished or messed about by the State is the inevitable consequence of the authoritarian worldview: that society has both the right and duty to impose its views on others, ‘for their own good’ and ‘for the good of society’.

    I’m arguing against that generally, not just when it suits me. Authoritarians fight among themselves about who gets to wear the boot and stomp all over the other lot’s face. I’m saying we should get rid of the boot. The state has no business intervening in other people’s lives just because it disapproves of their life choices, except (as ever) to prevent actual, unconsented harm to others.

    But until people are willing to say that, even when the state is enforcing norms they consider to be ‘right’, nobody is going to take them seriously when they object to the State enforcing norms they don’t agree with. Each logically necessitates the other.

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