Brian Moreau

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Mistaken identity a click away
We are told how wonderful new technology is and how much it can benefit our lives. We evolve to trust in the machines and often dismiss logic in favour of the results that computers may give us.
This faith can lead to trouble as this example explains.


Should we have faith in the machines?
I was arrested for reasons I won’t go into now however that arrest was I felt unjust.
While being processed at the Police station I was informed that the machine that was used to take fingerprints (Livescan) was faulty and thus they would not be able to take my fingerprints at that time.
However my photo and DNA were taken which is apparently standard for anybody arrested.
Later that day a Police officer visited my cell and addressed me as Alan.
I was surprised and did not really respond although I was not really given a chance to comment.
Shortly after that another officer visited my cell who also called me Alan, naturally I asked “Why do you keep calling me Alan? My name is Brian” The reply the officer gave was “Don’t give me that, we know who you are really, you have been identified as Mr Alan (surname) from you fingerprints”. I immediately replied “I have not had my fingerprints taken”.

Although a prisoners reply should be noted on a custody record my reply was not.
Because the Police now believed I was not who I sad I was they actually rearrested me for being in possession of stolen property which was announced to be a credit card. I attempted to explain that firstly the bank card I had was in fact a debit card and not a credit card as they had stated and additionally that the card was not stolen as it belonged to me.

Astonishingly the Police officer announced that they had checked with the bank and the bank had allegedly told them it was stolen.
A known lie as the bank card was mine but a perfect example of how armed with data we foolishly trust in so much that some people are prepared to make up events to support what the machines tell us.

At the time I could not work out what had gone wrong and why the Police thought I was Alan, I even started to question my own identity.

It turns out that another prisoner called Alan had his fingerprints taken immediately prior to release. During this operation the operator of the fingerprint machine or Livescan computer accidently clicked on my name by mistake and thus Alan’s fingerprints were entered onto my file.

Apparently this is very easily done as names are selected from a drop down list and clicked on with a computer mouse.

It took the Police about 10 hours or more to realise that something was “not quite right” as they put it and I was eventually allowed to leave without any charges being brought against me.

A very disturbing experience which the Police are happy to admit happens quite regularly. In fact so regularly that a special department or task force was set up to determine how to combat mistakes being made. My case was used as an example for them to assess and as a result they announced that they would now introduce a solution in the form of a keyboard so the operator not only has to click on your name but also type it in.

Additionally although the Police were happy to admit in phone calls that several officers made mistakes and they would be disciplined and I could receive compensation I have discovered that despite an official complaint and even a so called IPCC investigation that the Police are not holding anybody responsible and put it down to a series of unfortunate circumstances.

I am glad if it is true that steps have been taken to prevent this happening again but not that almost every officer involved has lied in their statements about the actual series of events and things that were said or not said as the case may be.

I am told that recordings are of such poor quality that conversations could not be heard clearly enough, failure in procedure can not be pinned on anyone due to a change in shift and due to the length of time that the investigation has taken that the Police officers involved can no longer remember the events which is apparently an acceptable answer.

It should also be noted that despite asking for solicitor while in custody I was not granted one.

The case was complicated by the fact that it was the British Transport Police who arrested me but the mistaken identity came about from actions the Metropolitan Police made. Both forces thus played on this accusing the other for the mistake.

The BTP still believe I was Alan and based their reply on that fact.
Unfortunately because Alan had a previous violent record with the Police I believe this influenced their findings.

I have asked them to conduct another investigation and write a report based on me but they refused.

Again another “faith in the machines” mistake.

I am still in the process of appealing against the findings of their reports.
How can someone be denied a right to a solicitor, be accused of being someone else and yet it be nobody’s fault?

I will publish the telephone calls between myself and the Police shortly.
Parts of these recordings clearly prove that what was said verbally was in direct contradiction to what was said in writing.
Also both MET Police and BTP statements have masses of contradictions.

Well don’t take my word for it, listen to the truth yourself.

Listen to the recordings

1) Inspector Price 26-11-07 The person’s name I was mistaken for has been edited out of this recording.


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Mistaken identity a click away
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