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LETTERS to Fleet News’ acting editor Steve Moody.

We need protection against the misuse of personal information

SIR – There has been much written in recent weeks about the use of the DVLA database by third party organisations for their own commercial purposes.

The information we thought was protected by the requirements of the Data Protection Act seems to be available to everyone who can come up with even the thinnest of justifications. The fact that payment is made for this information further increases the feeling of unease.

Stored information is only as good as the source, which in the case of roadside cameras is now turning out to be highly unreliable – particularly in the case of motorbikes.

The London congestion charging scheme is blighted by cloned number plates. The dishonest will always look for loopholes in a system and exploit them. The honest are on the receiving end and constantly have to justify and explain themselves to bureaucratic and uncaring automated systems that are set up to prosecute, not to take account of reasoned argument and honest explanation.

There is always the proffered justification that this or that initiative will help to trace and reduce crime. So would tagging every child at birth, so would allowing the state access to every bank account or credit card transaction. These things would still not be acceptable to the public. We should be very cautious about allowing yet another dilution of our personal liberties, even greater monitoring of our movements, actions and our freedom to make fair comment without being arrested or cautioned by overzealous and politically correct government departments.

We need clear-cut legislation regarding the use of information garnered in this way. We need a commitment that the information cannot and will not be used for any purpose, other than that for which it was gathered and stored.

We need to know what penalties will be imposed upon anyone who breaks this undertaking – and then we should still say no, because it would be nice to retain the last dregs of the concept that we are innocent individuals whose personal rights and freedoms are still respected.

David Mullins, Slough Estates

Let’s have less ideology and more action on fleet issues

SIR – As the fleet industry embarks on a demanding 2006, it is time to stop procrastinating, seize the moment and take effective action. Upon reading the feature ‘2006: what’s in store for fleets’ (Fleet NewsNet, January 5), it seems that the industry is simply repeating the issues that have been on the agenda for the past few years. The time has come to stop the continual replication of what we already know and focus on the practicalities of what we are going to do – less ideology, more action.

We have known for some time that the Corporate Manslaughter Bill and the threat of increased litigation has raised the profile of employers’ duty of care obligations. However, an all-encompassing and continual safety solution is yet to be recognised.

Although valid, the comments on fleet costs reiterated the fragmented approach that the industry takes to measuring expenditure. In 2006, the industry must join together from a truly holistic perspective and define a complete model of how costs are comprised and managed in order to illustrate the true cost of fleet.

Fundamentally, the industry has a great opportunity. Business performance improvement initiatives have been on the corporate agenda throughout 2005. By a process of elimination it is predicted that the spotlight will rest on fleet as the next area for focus. This presents a long-overdue chance to elevate the role of fleet. The industry now has a voice to demonstrate how fleet should be regarded as a core component of the business function, rather than regarded as a mere running cost.

Best practice standards lie at the heart of every issue that will drive the industry in 2006. Establishing a framework that benchmarks fleet performance objectives will provide clearer guidance for fleet managers, deliver an improved understanding of the critical role of fleet from both sides of the boardroom door, increase profitability and help to dissipate business fears about issues such as safety.

Ian McKenzie, Goup business development director, FMG Support

‘Spy’ headline was misleading

SIR – I would like to comment on the article ‘UK spy system to track fleet drivers’ (Fleet NewsNet, January 5).

I think the title is misleading as the system appears to be targeting uninsured and illegal drivers and is not there to ‘track fleet drivers’.

However, I think this is fantastic news and at last a worthwhile initiative from the Government and the police which will actually cut crime and make our roads much safer. Not wanting to open the speed camera debate, but most of those cameras have little, if any, effect on road deaths and in some areas the accident rate increased once the camera was installed.

So congratulations to the police – this is what we need. Stop the cheats and criminals, protect your honest road users and get all those unsafe and illegal drivers/vehicles off our roads.

Mark Easy
Project manager, business marketing, Zurich UK Commercial

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