Do you know if your child’s school is fingerprinting?

by Stephen Tall on June 6, 2007

Lib Dem education spokesperson Sarah Teather has been busy highlighting the disturbing news that at least 285 schools in England are fingerprinting pupils without any guidance from the Government about how such data might be used.

Even more worrying, there is doubt about whether parental consent had been sought or obtained in most of those schools.

You can read the full party press release here.

This story, following hot-on-the-heels of the Lib Dems’ vigorous efforts to oppose the Labour/Tory alliance efforts to restrict freedom of information, shows our party’s commitment to the defence of civil liberties.

Well done, too, to the Lib Dem education team for gaining good media coverage on this issue, including in The Guardian, The Daily Telegraph and The Sun.

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20 comments

This has been going on for several years, quietly.

The Blogosphere has been banging on about this for quite some time, so good to see a mainstream party finally picking up the cudgel.

see http://www.leavethemkidsalone.com/

Leave them kids alone has been campaigning for a long time, but no-one appeared to be listening.

by IanP on June 6, 2007 at 3:45 pm. Reply #

We do a lot of things to children without their informed consent, like injecting them with vaccines, for instance, or circumcising them. I would have thought that taking a fingerprint is possibly one of the least intrusive things that we could do to a child, and is certainly nothing to get worried about.

by Laurence Boyce on June 6, 2007 at 4:02 pm. Reply #

Yes I do know; neither of my kids’ schools are finger-printing. And actually Lawrence has a point, though the fuss about vaccines is silly.

by Chris Paul on June 6, 2007 at 4:26 pm. Reply #

Yes, I’m not saying that vaccination is evil. Just very intrusive. And much more so than a fingerprint.

by Laurence Boyce on June 6, 2007 at 4:43 pm. Reply #

Dying from measles is an awful lot more intrusive.

by ColinW on June 7, 2007 at 4:23 am. Reply #

The piece refers to parental consent (which has to be given for vaccinations) not children’s.

by Jacob on June 7, 2007 at 9:14 am. Reply #

This issue came up in my constituency when it came to light that one school was fingerprinting children. The issues are around – parental information and consent, proper guidelines for schools – but also whether fingerprinting is over-the-top response – such as whether it is just being used to help keep track of library books (which has been one of the reasons given for fingerprinting kids).

As ever – it’s a headlong rush into more Big Brother without proper debate, consultation or guidelines.

by lynne featherstone on June 7, 2007 at 11:22 am. Reply #

So what about circumcision then, still routinely performed for religious reasons among Jewish and Muslim communities? Are we OK with chopping off dick (always with parental consent of course), but not OK with sticking finger in pot of ink?

by Laurence Boyce on June 7, 2007 at 12:23 pm. Reply #

Laurence if it was just the phsyical act of taking a finger print then fine. However for some facless wa*ker in some government office or anyone else for all we know to then have my childs finger print is something else. Do you prupose that we just all pop down to the local nick and get fingerprinted and DNA tested as Blair would want? Then its down to the polce/state ruling you “out” from a crime rather than ruling you “in” as a criminal, everyone is a suspect until you are told otherwise?!. The act of fingerprinting is not the problem its what someone or agency plan to do with it. It means that my son would be on a data base for near on his entire life and foe what purpose exactly??
A vaccine is to stop them getting ill, the chop is sometims for medical reasons(although my boy’s is still intact!) but this as the saying goes “is something else!”

by Big Mak on June 7, 2007 at 8:19 pm. Reply #

Well my point is that circumcision should only be performed for medical reasons, which is not the situation that currently pertains. But returning to the matter in hand, do I propose that we all pop down to the local nick and get fingerprinted and DNA tested as Blair would want? No, I don’t propose that, but frankly it wouldn’t trouble me in the least if that were the law. I think I’m broadly against ID cards and national databases, but for a very practical reason – in all likelihood, the government will cock it up, the computer system will cost billions, and it won’t work, and so on.

But I really just can’t get exercised over all this civil liberties malarkey. It’s part of what I term libertarian paranoia. Assuming for a moment that the government didn’t cock it up, then I think that a national DNA database would be a jolly good thing, which in principle could have a dramatic impact upon crime prevention and detection. I just don’t buy into the notion that the state is out to monitor me, restrict all my freedoms, and generally make my life a misery. But if it is, then it’s the state that we elected, so we would only have ourselves to blame.

I’m sure George Orwell was a great writer but, in my view, his novel 1984 is hugely overrated. Not so much prescient; more patently absurd I would say. So no, I think I’ve just about managed to persuade myself that the entire civil liberties agenda is a load of brainless paranoia – yet another example of where I appear to be very much out of kilter with the party I have just joined. Ah well, never mind; I’m sure you’ll all come round to my way of thinking in the end!

by Laurence Boyce on June 7, 2007 at 9:05 pm. Reply #

“Are we OK with chopping off dick (always with parental consent of course),”

Just after I had held forth at some length in a medical law tutorial about how parental consent for male circumcision wasn’t valid as there was no benefit, some research came out suggesting there were health benefits http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/health/6176209.stm

An interesting point in this debate (and why circumcision is possibly relevant) is whether parental consent is necessarily enough. It isn’t always in medicine – broadly speaking there has to be a benefit to the child.

by Hywel Morgan on June 7, 2007 at 9:32 pm. Reply #

“I just don’t buy into the notion that the state is out to monitor me, restrict all my freedoms, and generally make my life a misery. But if it is, then it’s the state that we elected, so we would only have ourselves to blame.”

Actually, Laurence, just 35% of those voting backed Labour in 2005, and that was only just over 20% of the electorate as a whole.

by Stuart on June 8, 2007 at 11:57 pm. Reply #

I tend to the view that we are all responsible for Labour’s “historic third term,” not least Liberal Democrats and Conservatives for failing to provide a sufficiently credible alternative. We get the government we deserve every single time.

by Laurence Boyce on June 9, 2007 at 12:16 am. Reply #

One could argue, Laurence, that the LibDems and the Tories did provide a credible alternative. A majority (54%) of those voting supported either one or the other.

If the voting system was fairer then the 22.1% of people voting LibDem would have been more accurately represented in the Commons, with about 150 MPs speaking up for them.

by Stuart on June 9, 2007 at 12:23 am. Reply #

That’s another thing I can’t really buy into – the whole PR business. That 22% includes a large number of tactical votes, which the Lib Dems very much encourage. That support would fall away under a “fair” system. Sure, Lib Dems would do better with PR, but nowhere near as well as some make out. Instead, we should concentrate on projecting our positive image, soft pedal on tactical voting, and drop the silly bar-graph from election leaflets. We can win under the current system, though possibly not all in one go, and definitely not with the present leader.

by Laurence Boyce on June 9, 2007 at 3:57 pm. Reply #

drop the silly bar-graph from election leaflets

Lawrence, how can you dare speak of such things? 🙂 Be careful or you might end up on the wrong side of a bizarre punting accident or something …

Are you _sure_ you’re a Lib Dem?

by passing tory on April 6, 2008 at 4:52 pm. Reply #

Pinch me am i dreaming? !! The day my daughter’s brought home a letter about finger printing for library books… i did not need to think twice.. it was a DEFINITE NO !! I think about all those futuristic Sci Fi films like Equilibrium for example… Big brother is not the program on tv. Our freedom and rights are slowly going down the drain at an alarming rate. In the future we wont have names just numbers LOL . When you think about how data is collected… all systems are connected… they probably know how many times you take a shite and what was partly digested never mind ,who you are and where you live. How about the online surveys in return for free ipods or discount vouchers… It might seem insignificant.. but what information are they extracting from you without you realizing it. They can build up a crystal clear picture of you over time without you being aware. They check into your emails.. listen to your phone calls even send subliminal messages . Did you know that fluoride in drinking water was used in concentration camps on jews? were they really concerned about the condition of their teeth??? are we really that dumb… fluoride is used for mind control. So before you say Oh well wha’ts the harm in it ?… Look at the BIGGER PICTURE. Where does it ever end ???. So when you next step outside your front door, look up smile and wave…because you never know BIG BROTHER MAYBE WATCHING YOU !!!

by jane doe on June 11, 2008 at 12:35 pm. Reply #

Fingerprinting of school children is manifestly objectionable. It is intrusive, its sole purpose is to help the state watch and control us, and it brands the children concerned as criminals. (The school is basically saying to the kids: we don’t trust you.)

I am in favour of vaccination of infants. Not so long ago I challenged a guy for posting on his site a piece aimed at persuading parents not to vaccinate their children and maintaining not only that rubella is harmless but that vaccination makes children more likely to get it. It told him he was irresponsible to post this trash, but he would have none of it.

Circumcision of infants should not be permitted expect for genuine medical reasons. Nelson Mandela has called for an end to the practice and I know Jewish people who think the same way (one of them, an Israeli citizen, told me it is “barbaric”). If adults wish to mutilate themselves for religious reasons, then they can take their penknives out and do it.

A national DNA database would do little to assist the fight against crime (most crimes are committed by people who already have criminal records and will be on the database anyway). What a national database would do is make it much easier for the Police to fit people up.

by Sesenco on June 11, 2008 at 1:09 pm. Reply #

Well doing a google search ..i came across this posting on http://www.order-order.com. Whether its 100% correct i don’t know… but it certainly is food for thought… Do you wear blinkers..are you a bleeting sheep?
…………………………………………..
Leave Them Kids Alone

Does anyone else find it spooky that they are fingerprinting innocent kids in British schools? Even more spooky is the fact that it is VeriCool which runs the fingerprint registration systems in 22 UK schools. Part of Anteon, a division of the massive defence contractor General Dynamics, Anteon also has the contract to run courses on interrogation and counter-intelligence at Fort Huachuca in Arizona, headquarters of the US Army Intelligence Center where they train interrogators for Guantanamo Bay. Nice.

by Anonymous on June 11, 2008 at 2:08 pm. Reply #

My children’s school is not fingerprinting my children; if it were, I would immediately withdraw them.

It’s bad enough that they spend half the day on useless nonsense without them being treated as criminals as well!

by Martin Land on June 11, 2008 at 4:46 pm. Reply #

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