Throughout the Investigation we have had updates from the Metropolitan police in the form of DAC sue Akers as to the numbers of cases that were still in process. Here’s a quote from one of her sessions.
43. The notification process was completed at the end of May 2012. Whilstan interesting point is this quote inside that statement
some new information may emerge which could result in the figures
slightly fluctuating, it is unlikely that there will now be any further
44. We have continued to focus on those potential victims with a phone
number. In total it is believed that there are 4,775 such ’potential’
victims, of which 1081 have some additional factor which means we
consider them likely to have been victims. These factors include audio
recording of voicemail messages, PIN numbers and/or calls to Unique
45. Officers from Operation Weeting have notified a total of 2,615 of which
702 are likely to have been victims.
46. As the figures show, police have been unable to contact a number of
possible victims often because, despite concerted efforts, there have
been insufficient details to trace them
“In total it is believed that there are 4,775 such ’potential’ victims, of which 1081 have some additional factor which means we consider them likely to have been victims”
Now we know that a lot of phone numbers were accessed because they used the default PIN, and so why would we be looking for PIN as a second factor in those cases? Surely we would need to be able to identify them from billing information, who phoned the individual number at a certain time should be relatively easily reconstructed from phone records although I’m not an expert on this, but it seems logical that this could be done in a fairly trivial way, even though it's an ability that should at least make people worried about the powers of the state.
Theres a second problem with these figures
I don’t quite understand the 2000 unfound numbers. This ammount really doesn’t make any sense to me.
The phone numbers in Mulcaires notebooks reportedly range from 2003 to 2006 and investigations started in 2011 Now assuming that the police did nothing before that point, (and we know that they had according to Tom Watsons book identified at least 400 numbers by the time the Goodman/Mulcaire case occurred) lets examine how many numbers they should be able to identify.
So we start with 4775 possibles
Firstly, financial records legaly have to be kept for six years for tax reasons, the police should be able track any phone payments, either payments for phones, or payments for call credit unless done for a particular phone entirely by cash after that point through the phone providers records, so that should enable us to identify any phone bought after 2005. (although it may be that the date we should be looking at is the 2004/5 tax year which should reduced the unknown number even further)
That removes a third of the time, and thus a third of the phones leaving 3183 unidentified.
According to the OFCOM report on Mobile Number portability the average person changes their phone every two years so you’d expect half of the remaining numbers to still be in use during the period where we can identify them from business records.
Leaving 1591 unidentified
Also in the same report, it claims that 40% of people don’t change their phone provider, because they did not wish to change their number, so those 40% will still have the same number during the time where we have records.
Which leaves 955 unidentified
And of those who do change providers 36% keep their old number so they should still be identifiable
Which would leave 611 unidentified numbers
If we argue that the Initial 400 numbers identified by the police are evenly spread across the population, then roughly 50 will be in the 600 unidentified ones
Which moves our unidentified group down to 550
On top of this you’d think that the number of hacking cases would be skewed so that the Majority fall towards the end of the time period. To start with fear of being caught and lack of knowledge by reporters as to if they would get away with it would suppress the number s whereas later on there would be a feeling of invulnerability which would magnify the number. But it is hard to tell to what degree that should occur without access to more details. So we should just treat the current figure as a high estimate.
Now all this assumes that the hacked phones group acts the same way as the rest of phone users, but it isn’t an unreasonable set of assumptions.
So Why haven’t the 1450 numbers that would appear to be in excess of those that we would expect to not be able to find been identified?
Now one possibility is that Hacking victims bought pay as you go phones that were never registered to a real person, and all calls credit was bought with cash. Now this is possible, but the idea that half of the phones in a community are of this type seems very farfetched. you'd need an unlikely number to be both pay as you go phones (non-contract), and for individuals never to have bought call credit online, through bank cards, and registered their phone without any real personal details. You would think that this group would be vanishingly small.
A second possibility is that maybe the police are still resistant to actually dealing with this, maybe there is still things to come out that the management of The Met might find personally embarrassing, if not possibly ending up with senior officers facing the Wrath of the Judges. with the previous performance of the Metropolitan police, this isn't something easily ruled out.
A final possibility is that some of the numbers are external to the UK . It’s reasonable to think that this is so, A large number of stories in world media are based around Hollywood celebrities, and as this is so then it would be logical to assume that if similar hacking based stories occur, then the same techniques will have been used, and friends, relatives, etc. will have been targeted in the same way that they were in the UK. If these numbers are US based then the police are unable to identify those numbers without opening a whole other can of worms which they may not want to.
So two realistic options that I can see, the one I dread is that The Met is still, despite all of the guarantees, may still beavoiding its responsibilities, and allowing the phone hackers off the hook. If this is so then what chance the court cases succeeding? The other one that looks much more positive will result in cases breaking out across the US court system like a rash. It will be like 2010 all over again.