The UK Post Office Scandal : What the Hell Happened?

25-minute Talk

How one buggy system led to the largest miscarriage of justice in the legal history of the UK

Virtual Pass session

Timetable

4:00 p.m. – 4:45 p.m. Friday 22nd

Room

Room F1 - Track 1: Talks

Audience

This is a presentation for anybody interested in Testing (or Ethics, or software development)...

Key-Learning

  • A Case Study of the scandal and system.
  • Consider how any computer system - not just medical or defence - can have a significant effect on the people who use it.
  • Consider the ethical challenges when testing.
  • Consider the importance of being transparent and up-front when dealing with issues

Between 2000 and 2014, the UK Post Office successfully prosecuted more than 900 sub-postmasters and sub-postmistresses for false accounting and theft - an average of one a week - based on information from a new computer system called Horizon.
Some of those convicted went to prison, many were financially ruined, many suffered anxiety and depression, and have described being shunned by their communities. Some died, still having a criminal record.
But the problem was with the computer system - not the staff. Misreporting by the system caused discrepancies in the accounts leading to incorrect financial shortfalls in thousands of post offices.
The Post Office continued to prosecute staff even after bugs were identified in the system. It took almost 20 years for the Post Office to admit responsibility.

In this talk we will identify what went wrong - how a policy of fear and coverups, poor communication, lack of ethics and an inability to take action or responsibility led to what has been described as the largest miscarriage of justice in the UK.
Most importantly, we will look at the effect that this had on the people who were effected most - how one buggy computer system led to the ruination of people's lives and careers.

Related Sessions

10:45 a.m. – 12:30 p.m.
Creative Space Room - Track 9: Bonus Sessions

105-minute Workshop

7:45 a.m. – 8:30 a.m.
Room F1+F2+F3 - Plenary

Active Session

Virtual Pass session
5:00 p.m. – 6:00 p.m.
Room F1+F2+F3 - Plenary

45-minute Keynote

Virtual Pass session
10:45 a.m. – 11:30 a.m.
Room F2 - Track 2: Talks

25-minute Talk