Tag Archive | "Big Brother"

Jacqui Smith wants your DNA, innocent or guilty

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Jacqui Smith wants your DNA, innocent or guilty

The Home Office has outlined a series of proposals in relation to the DNA database designed to counter the ruling by the European Court of Human Rights that it was illegal. However, in doing so, they have demonstrated utter contempt for the ruling, choosing instead to go for a fudge. If these proposals are put into force, it will inevitably lead to further legal challenges in the European Court by Human Rights campaigners.

The Home Office consultation proposes the following:

  • Destroying all original DNA samples, like mouth swabs, as soon as they are converted into a digital database profile
  • Automatically deleting after 12 years the profiles of those arrested but not convicted of a serious violent or sexual crime
  • Automatically deleting after six years the profiles of anyone arrested but not convicted of other offences
  • Retaining indefinitely the DNA profiles and fingerprints of anyone convicted of a recordable offence
  • Remove the profiles of young people arrested but not convicted, or convicted of less serious offences, when they turn 18

The bottom line, is that even in Big Brother Britain, you are supposed to be innocent until proven guilty. It is, therefore, unreasonable in the extreme for DNA samples to be retained where individuals have been arrested, but not convicted, or arrested but not even charged. By retaining the samples, the Home Office is suggesting, by implication, that the individual may commit an offence in the future. Under these proposals, if the Home Office want to increase the size of the database, all they have to do is encourage the Police to arrest more people, the Police will then be entitled to take, record and retain a DNA sample.  How long before the Police are targeted on the taking of DNA samples?

Clearly DNA evidence can be very useful in solving crimes. However, this must be weighed against the infringement on the civil liberties of the majority. We are all entitled to be treated as innocent until proven guilty. We must not permit the state to use this ‘back door’ method of arrest without charge to increase the size of the DNA database.  It is also worth noting that the Home Office is proposing that DNA samples be retained indefinitely for what is termed a recordable offence. But these offences can vary from the public order offence of failing to give notice of a procession and, for example, drunkeness, public order, begging  right through to having a bladed weapon or crossbow in public.  In fact, making a hoax 999 call or falsely claiming a professional qualification are all recordable crimes. How can such a broad range of offences brought under the innocuously sounding term ‘recordable offence’ be considered proportionate, especially given any of these offences would mean that your DNA is on file for life under the current proposals.

Whatever your view on Big Brother Britain and the DNA database, we must all remind ourselves, that in 12 years, this government has introduced 3,607 new laws, in other words, a month doesn’t go by without there bing new laws that we are supposed to know and not infringe. If this continues, it is only a matter of time before we all find ourselves on the national DNA database. No government in the world has considered it necessary or desirable to have so many of their citizens recorded on a DNA database. In fact the UK has the largest database in the world, now ask yourself this, do we all feel safer, do we have a higher detection and conviction rate when compared to comparable countries? NO! Because if we did, you can be certain that the Home Office would have told us.

We must say no to this massive intrusion into our everyday lives.

Posted in Big Brother, Civil Liberties, General, Labour, Lib Dems | Comments (5)

PoCA: Yes, Crime does pay in the UK

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PoCA: Yes, Crime does pay in the UK

In yet another example of this government burying anything that doesn’t work, the Asset Recovery Agency (ARA) has been abolished and responsibility passed to the Serious Organised Crime Agency (SOCA). Yes, the ARA failed to achieve its objectives, having collected just £23m from criminals whilst costing the taxpayer £65m over 4 years, but this is hardly the way forward. All that will happen now is that the seizure of assets gained through criminal activity will receive much less attention and will, eventually, be lost amongst the myriad of other priorities within SOCA. It sickens me when I see failed government initiatives buried rather than being fixed, particuarly when the government basked in the glory of the original announcement. The government statement suggest that this is to “streamline” the work by law and order agencies, but we know the truth, it is simply to hide their failure from the public.

The ARA was originally set up by David Blunkett in 2003 to act as the enforcement arm designed to support the new legislation introduced under the Proceeds of Crime Act (PoCA). At the time, David Blunkett said, “We are hitting organised criminals where it really hurts – in their pockets.” Yet, four year later, this is what Conservative MP Edward Leigh, had to say about ARA: “It was ill-planned and recovered only about a third of its expenditure. Far too few cases were ever referred to it, its management information systems were in a mess, it prioritised cases badly and it underestimated the time it would take to pursue them.”

In an interview with BBC Panorama, David Blunkett said that at this juncture, he would have expected the ARA to be seizing between £500m and £800m a year instead of the paltry £137m siezed this year. Of equal concern must be the fact that a 2007 National Audit Office enquiry found more than £16m had been spent on receivers fees and that in 12 cases the fees amounted to more than the assets frozen, leaving the taxpayer to pick up the difference. This is a clear and utter failure.

What is not lost on me is the irony of this Government’s approach to crime. Even though there is existing legislation in place (PoCA) to target and seize the assets of criminals, which is not working, they continue to introduce even more draconian legislation. However, this time the legislation targets everyone of us, all 61m!

According to the government, in the fight against crime, we must all be spied on and treated as ‘potential’ criminals. We are having every email we send, every text and every mobile phone call monitored and recorded; we must accept that our internet browsing history will be recorded; we must now accept that our travel arrangements have to be registered and recorded, including names (and who we travelled with), addresses, telephone numbers, seat reservations, travel itineraries and the credit card details of travellers; Oyster cards, both in their current format and that proposed, which can track our movements on any form of public transport; ANPR and CCTV cameras that monitor our every move, there are some 4.2m CCTV cameras in the UK, many on the road networks, so our journeys can literally be tracked from camera to camera. ANPR can be used to track individual cars using number plate recognition; ID cards with full biometrics; a massive DNA database; ContactPoint which records every aspect of our children’s behaviour, education and well-being up to the school leaving age…the list just goes on and on. It is as if each and everyone of us is on probation, everything we do, say and write is recorded on at least one Government database.

The bottom line is that the UK IS turning into a Police State, but instead of targeting criminal and terrorists, the Government is going for ‘soft targets’, by targeting each and everyone of us just in case we do something naughty. Surely the answer is to target our finite resources on known criminals, the Police know who they are and the same with potential terrorists, the Police and MI5 also know who the majority of them are? The truth is Government’s consistently lie to us. For example, when Margaret Thatcher introduced the Child Support Agency, she made a great play on the fact that its first priority would be to target “errant father” who were not supporting their children, in fact they did nothing of the sort, instead, they went after all those that were paying and simply re-assessed their payments using a ‘one size fits all’ calculation that brought many families to their knees, just so that they could hit targets. This current Government is doing the same thing, justifying draconian, Police State type laws, which will be applied to each and everyone of us, whilst demonstrating an impotence in the utilisation of existing (new) legislation that was supposed to target serious, career criminals.

The State runs the very real risk of turning the majority of people in this country into criminals for some relative misdemeanor, whilst ignoring those that can and should be targeted. Criminalising the majority is not the way to solve major crime, surely even our inept and contemptuous Government can understand that?

Posted in Big Brother, Civil Liberties, Conservatives, General, Labour, Lib Dems | Comments (8)

Travel database and Government spin

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Travel database and Government spin

Whatever the government tries to tell us, the new travel database has little to do with securing our borders and more to do with controlling and monitoring the activities or each and every British citizen. In fact, with the new telecommunications database, which will monitor every email, text message and mobile phone call, this governments access to our personal data will be akin to a prisoner having a tag fitted, except, it will be on 61m people.

For those that believe the travel database won’t affect them, then think again, as many as 1800 government and private agencies will have access to our personal travel details. Anyone that believes this information will only be used by government agencies with responsibility for border controls is at best naive. Let me give you a couple of examples of what this information could be used for.

If you have children of school age and decide to take them out a week before their school break to save money for your annual holidays, then you should be aware that the travel arrangements will be recorded. The school could then, theoretically at least, access this information and commence proceedings against the parents. Yes, you can argue parents shouldn’t do this, but it is worth nothing that as many as one third of all parents do.

Suppose you regularly go abroad for your booze and fags, these journeys will now be recorded, as will your luggage. As a consequence, if the HMRC deem that you go too often they could seize the goods, seize your vehicle, fine you, prosecute, you or all four!

Maybe you earn air miles as a result of your business or work. If you use air miles or some other voucher to pay for a personal flight, then this will be recorded. How long do you think it will be before the HMRC cotton on to this and send you a bill for this ‘benefit in kind’?

Perhaps you are lucky enough to win an incentive from your company which includes overseas travel or, maybe you have been invited by a supplier for a conference or the like. Strictly speaking, you should ascertain whether or not this would be considered a ‘benefit in kind’, if so, you must declare it on your tax return. If you get it wrong, forget to include it on your return or try and get away with it, HMRC will know, because the details of the trip, including the cost and who paid for it will all be recorded. Do you really think they won’t be looking?

Lets say you have saved up for a trip of a lifetime, or perhaps one of your relatives have contributed to the cost, the HMRC will be able to check the cost of the travel arrangements against your earning and if it is above an accepted average, it could trigger an investigation. Granted, it may be perfectly innocent, but the onus will be on you to prove how the trip was funded, this may mean you having to detail your income and outgoings for

decades. If you have a perfect record AND you can prove it, then you have nothing to fear. If, however, a relative, has gifted you money, whether for the trip, or at some other time, unless it is below the annual gift threshold, then the gift could be subject to tax. If you haven’t paid the tax, you can also expect, at the very minimum, a fine, but they may also prosecute. So, you still think the travel database won’t affect you?

Remember, these new controls will include monitoring how much you spend whilst you are abroad, so if you normally buy a few gifts, electrical items, DVD’s, clothes etc., and you don’t bother declaring them, then think again. Because they will know how much you spent, where and, of course, if you declared these goods when you returned to the UK. How many of the “nothing to hide, nothing to fear” brigade can claim to have a perfect record I wonder?

So, if you have never carried out any of the above and you don’t intend to, you are almost certainly in the minority, therefore it may not affect you.

Unless, of course, there is something that I have missed out and you can be certain, that this Government is well ahead of the game. They have even looked at it as a revenue generating scheme by threatening anyone who does not register their travel details with a fine of up to £5,000, as always with this government, it is always stick and no carrot.

For example, this database and UK Border Controls will also start to collect fingerprints, how long before they require other bio-metric data, remember, the Government wanted to include this information on ID Cards, but because there was such an uproar, they are intending to collect it using other means,

in this case, anyone that travels abroad and that is most of us. This Government are just hoping that we are too stupid to notice that they are simply gathering this information via another means. We have seen the government agencies sell our personal data to private companies, one example is the DVLA who have provided parking companies with the name and addresses of vehicle owners, so that they can be hounded for parking fines. How long before they are selling our travel arrangments to airline companies and the like?

Our government consistently lie to us about why they need so much data, constantly harping on about terrorist threats and so on. The reality is, determined terrorists will always be able to get in through our porus borders, they know how to get virgin passport; spying on the travel arrangements of 61m people will NOT prevent terrorists (who may be here anyway) from entering the UK, nor will it stop people being smuggled into the UK. Instead, all it will do is allow the state to terrorise the people of this country. Is this really what you want?

The LibDems, and no I am not a supporter, do at least appear to want to roll back government intrusion with their Freedom Act, lets hope that they will have some success and the electorate will start to understand just how intrusive government has become into our everyday lives.

Posted in Big Brother, Civil Liberties, General, Labour, Lib Dems | Comments (1)

Jack Straw and Labour’s record on Liberty!

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Jack Straw and Labour’s record on Liberty!

Proof if any were needed that Jack Straw has completely lost the plot is demonstrated by comments he has made in The Guardian. The classic one is as follows;

“I’m the first to accept that Labour since 1997 has not achieved a state of grace in terms of the crucial balance between security and liberty. But on any objective basis, this government has done more to reinforce and strengthen liberty than any since the war.”

Well apart from the fact that this statement is a classic case of ‘doublespeak‘ his claim that his government has reinforced and strengthened liberty is utter rubbish. New Labour have effectively suspended Habeas Corpus; have supported the introduction of 4.2m CCTV cameras, one for every 12 people in this country; have taken and then retained DNA on people that have never been charged or have been acquitted; have introduced and now seek to strengthen the rules related to a Communications Database which will record every telephone call, text message and email we send, as well as our internet browsing habits; have announced their intention to set up a ‘Travel Database’ which will record when we go on holiday, with whom, for how long, how much it cost, how we paid etc; have introduced ContactPoint a database that will record every aspect of our children’s lives from the moment they start school and then increased the number of people that will have access to this information; have announced their intention to force ID cards upon us, inspite of massive public resistance; have announced the intention to introduce biometrics onto our passports, with a chip that could be used to track our every move; are tracking our vehicle movements with the use of ANPR cameras; and if that were not enough, they are spending £12bn of our money on an NHS database that no-one wants!

I could also go on about the fact that Mr Straw decided that the British public were not entitled to know the justifications and deliberations that took place in Cabinet in the weeks leading up to the Iraq War. Instead, he used his Ministerial Veto to hide the minutes from us, even though, it was these decisions that ultimately lead to the decision to go to war and, arguably, created a situation where we made every British citizen a terrorist target.

“Talk of Britain sliding into a police state is daft scaremongering….”

The police under Labour have been given unprecedented powers. They can prevent marches or protests, take DNA even when no charges have been laid, arrest and detain without charge for up to 28 days, spy on any member of the public they so choose, (using the tools that the government argued were for protection against terrorism and major crime) and now they can quell protest by firing deadly tasers at ordinary citizens, with the issue of a Taser for every front line policeman. Even the Houses of Parliament are not sacrosanct and there have also been cases of the police listening in to private and privileged conversations between a defendant and their lawyer. I could go on, but I would be here for hours.

“….but even were it true there is a mechanism to prevent it – democratic elections. People have the power to vote out administrations which they believe are heavy-handed.”

This is quite true, New Labour have not found a method by which they could remove our democratic right to vote, although they do have the powers to know what we are saying or writing because of their unprecedented power to spy on us. However, whilst we have this democratic right, we can only exercise it once every 5 years at a time that suits the government, not the people. If Jack Straw believes that his government have acted in the best interest of the public, then he should pop along to Gordon Brown’s office and suggest two things, 1. that new legislation is introduced that allows the people of this country to insist on an immediate election where they have lost confidence in the government and 2. that Gordon Brown announce a June election, so that we can all decide on their track record now. I think it is highly unlikely that ‘Justice‘ Secretary, Jack Straw will allow us any justice.

“I hope that in the final reckoning even some of our harshest critics will concede that this Labour government has done more than any before it to extend liberties and to constrain government.”

As I have said, Jack Straw has now joined Gordon Brown in being so removed from reality and the mood of the public, that he may as well be based on Mars. No wonder this country is in so much trouble.

Posted in Big Brother, Civil Liberties, General, Labour | Comments (5)

LibDems undertake to repeal oppressive civil liberty legislation

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LibDems undertake to repeal oppressive civil liberty legislation

Finally, one of the major political parties has come out and made a clear and unequivocal statement in favour of returning power to the people. The LibDems have promised to repeal the series of authoritarian measures introduced by New Labour, which has lead, to put it in their words, to the “slow death” of our civil liberties. To be fair, the LibDems have taken a long time to recognise that this is a key are of concern for citizens of this country, but lets face it, better late that never. What a pity that the Conservative party have been so weak when it comes to civil liberties and government intrusion, but then again, they demonstrated their true colours when they sided with Jack Straw, when he used the Ministerial veto to hide the the minutes of cabinet meetings leading up to the Iraq War from the public.

The LibDems are calling on the government to reverse the controversial policing and criminal justice legislation introduced in recent years. Doubtless, this request will be ignored, given our current government have demonstrated time and again, that they have little or no time for anyone who would dare to criticise their policies. Further, this government have consistently paid lip service to the hard won freedoms that we have enjoyed prior to their term in office, dismissing protests with a wave of their hand. New Labour’s philosophy it is the state that is master, not the people, supporting this argument by spending £billions on new methods to record information of the general public.

The LibDems have stated that they would reduce detention without charge from 28 days to 14, remove the ministerial veto altogether, allow DNA to be retained only in cases where someone has been charged and convicted, scrap ID cards and order a full scale review of the use use of CCTV cameras, which now numbers over 4m. To put that into perspective, in 2004 a European Commission report found that there were some 40,000 cameras monitoring public areas in 500 British towns and cities, compared to fewer than 100 cameras in 15 German cities. Little wonder that nearly every report you read states that we are the most spied on country in the world.

However, the LibDems need to go much further. They must seek to cancel the Big Brother Britain databases that this government has either introduced or announced. At the very least, this should include the database proposed in the new Data Communications Bill intended to record every call, text message and email we send or receive, in addition to spying on our internet browsing habits. As well as the latest government wheeze, the travellers database, that seeks to record every trip we take, where we go, how we pay and where we sit. There should be a review of the ContactPoint database already introduced in terms of whether the benefits will outweigh the cost and risks and the NHS database, which is hopelessly inefficient and is the subject of much criticism from the very practitioners who are supposed to benefit from it.

I have never voted LibDem in my life, I have always viewed them as the party of high taxation, the Green Party in disguise if you like and quite frankly, lacking in any real substance. However, I have been heartily impressed with Vince Cable’s take on the economy, not that I have agreed with everything he has said, but he speaks with authority and knowledge, unlike some other that you would expect to be well briefed. Compare that with the wishy-washy approach from the Conservative party and the reckless abandonment demonstrated by the current Labour government. I fail to see much difference between the policies of the Conservatives and those of New Labour, it just seems to be more of the same, couched in a ‘softer’ tone or called by a different name and that is NOT what I want. Labour have promised us tax increases, the Conservative party have promised us tax increases, so what the hell, they are now all on a level playing field. The Labour party have demonstrated that they could not give a toss about our right to privacy, liberty and freedom to go about our business without state interference, the conservative party have said a few weasley words in condemnation, but nothing more. so I think we know where they stand, especially after their appalling and ill-conceived support for Jack Straw and his ministerial veto.

In fact, there is so little to choose between any of the main parties, that I suspect who we decide to vote for, may well be based on something that they do differ on, provided it is important to the voter. I believe, that whilst all parties broadly agree on key electoral issues, such as the NHS, education, crime, immigration, the environment and taxes, it will be the smaller things that become the deciding factor.

For that reason, unless we start to see substantial policy differences, not variations on the same theme, I do not believe that ANY party, especially the Conservatives, can count on winning the next election. In my view, the next election will go to the wire, people will decide late in the day and Cameron & co, unless they can highlight real policy differences and intiatives between the Conservatives and Labour, will be left with egg on their face. This could lead to the LiDems and other independent parties being in a position whereby they can punch well above their weight. Having seen what happens when a government gets such a massive majority, I never want to see that happen again, because the longer the term in office with a large majority, the more authoritarian they become. Given none of the parties are talking about wholesale reform, it can be safely argued that there is no need for massive majorities anyway.

Posted in Big Brother, Civil Liberties, Conservatives, General, Labour, Lib Dems | Comments (4)

MP’s are preaching, not listening

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MP’s are preaching, not listening

According to a survey completed by the Hansard Society, MP’s are not taking advantage of the power of the internet and, those that do, typically use it as a method of transmitting information, not receiving it. The only thing that should surprise anyone here is the fact that this is being heralded as a new discovery. The truth is, members of parliament (from all parties) have been talking at the British public for decades, although it is more prevalent now than it was, for example, 15 years ago.

With one or two notable exceptions, the only time members of parliament engage with the public is when they want something, which is typically once every 5 years, to convince us to vote for them. Once they get their seat in parliament, the majority of them couldn’t give a toss about their constituents, all of a sudden that are taken in by the deference they are shown and the generosity of the expense accounts.

The internet is a great tool for engaging with the general public and blogs represent an excellent forum for debate, yet only a handful of MP’s have their own blogs or contribute to other ‘political’ commentary/opinion blogs. Why, do you suppose that is? I believe it is a combination of the following; they can’t be bothered, they have nothing constructive to say, they are frightened of engaging with real people that have not been briefed on what questions they can, or cannot ask, their own positions are indefensible or, they are way to busy completing their expense claims.

Some government ministers are contemptuous of so called ‘political bloggers’, take Hazel Blears for example, she waded into them last year claiming they were fuelling a “culture of cynicism about public life“.  It couldn’t be that people were daring to disagree with the government could it? In fact, her attack only demonstrated her own ignorance and ineptitude, because what she chose to forget was that behind these blogs are real people, voters, who feel that blogging is a method by which they can voice their opinion and engage with other who may or may not agree with them. One thing is certain, frustrated voters have no other way of venting, with a government intent on doing as much as they can to restric freedom of speech, marches or protests!

The truth is, members of parliament ignore the power of the internet and the influence of political bloggers at their peril. The internet is an excellent medium to find like minded individuals and although it may be still be some way off, I would not be surprised if a new political party in not founded via the internet and one that speaks for the people, rather than at them.  

Only a fool, or in this case, a party and government of fools would choose to ignore a growing momentum of disaffected voters in the vain hope that they will go away. MP’s should engage with the public, not once every 5 years, but each and every day….or risk losing their seat. If they don’t do that, then I predict that today’s political bloggers will become tomorrow’s independent MP’s, only then will the people of this country really be able to call the government to account, because it would be our equivalent of non-executive directors! So the message to ALL Members of Parliament is stop transmitting and start receiving, before it is too late!

Posted in Big Brother, Civil Liberties, Conservatives, General, Labour, Lib Dems | Comments (0)

Big Brother Britain and a new Database for travel

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Big Brother Britain and a new Database for travel

At a time when we should all be considering tightening our belts, the government of Big Brother Britain has decided to set up yet another database to spy and record details of British citizens travel arrangements. Once again, this has is being justified on the pretext of national security. Quite apart from the fact that this government has proven itself incapable of introducing working databases on budget, the fact remains that it is entirely unnecessary. This database has nothing to do with security and everything to do with government control over its citizens. There is simply no way that this government can justify spying on 60m people in order that they can track, at most, a few thousand potential terrorists.

This is in addition to the governments intention to record every email, text message and telephone call, plus our Internet browsing habits. It is high time the British public started asking why on earth this government needs so much information on its citizens. It is estimated that the Big Brother Britain database for spying on calls and Internet traffic will cost £12bn, it is therefore, reasonable to assume that this latest database will cost at least 50% of the costs, therefore another £6bn, minimum. These two databases are equivalent to the cost of 300 new hospitals!

Once again, thus far, the opposition parties have been noticeable by their absence, they should be refusing to support this oppressive, civil liberty busting voyeurism of this Labour government. They should be promising to scrap such databases or repealing legislation that permits the collection of this data. There has been a complete lack of any justification by this government, presumably to ensure that there is as little publicity as possible whilst they try and sneak this programme through the back door.

Wake up Cameron, wake up Clegg and wake up people, this is becoming completely unacceptable, in terms of our liberty, right to privacy and of course, the excessive cost at a time when we can least afford it. We are already spied on by some 4m cameras, information on our children, their welfare, schooling, carers, health and so on is already being stored in a government database. This government is introducing a cradle to grave spying programme on its own citizens, it is time to say enough is enough. It has already been noted that we are one of the most spied on nations anywhere in the world, alongside places such as North Korea. Surely that must ring alarm bells for even the most complacent British citizen?

This latest database will store names, addresses, telephone numbers, seat reservations, travel itineraries and credit card details of travellers. The notion that if you have nothing to hide, then you have nothing to fear is total nonesense. Why? Because is presupposes that the people that have access to this information will use it for legitimate purposes. How can we be certain when this government has already allowed thousands of agencies, public and private access to our personal information that is already stored? Enough is enough, stand up and be counted people, and Mr Cameron, get off your backside and say something, either you support this destruction of our civil liberties, or you must fight against it, show some backbone, prove to the people of this country that you are not a lighweight. Say no to Big Brother Britain – RESIST!

Posted in Big Brother, Civil Liberties, Conservatives, General, Labour, Lib Dems | Comments (14)

European Court of Human Rights, DNA rebuke

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European Court of Human Rights, DNA rebuke

How ironic that British subjects have had to turn to the European Courts to protect their liberty and privacy, rather than being able to rely on our own laws. If this does not demonstrate just how far this control obsessed government has gone to destroy the rights and civil liberties of the people of this country, then nothing will.

The case was brought by two men who had their DNA profile and fingerprints taken when they were charged with an offence. One had his charges dropped and the other was acquitted, yet in spite of this, the South Yorkshire Police, supported by the government, refused to destroy the DNA profile and fingerprints. Under existing laws, DNA profiles of everyone arrested for a recordable offence in England, Wales and Northern Ireland are kept on the database, regardless of whether they are charged or convicted. This is not the case in Scotland where records are destroyed. 

Now, in what turned out to be a unanimous decision of 17 judges sitting in Strasbourg, the Grand Chamber Judgment ruled that the action of the police was violation of Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights which is the ‘right to respect for private and family life‘. In fact, the Court went further, stating that the retention of this information could not be regarded as necessary in a democratic society and they had been struck by the indiscriminate nature of the power of detention in England, Wales and Northern Ireland. This amounts to a direct rebuke of the British government. Needless to say Jacqui Smith who has spent a great deal of public money defending the governments position, is “disappointed”, with the outcome. Just who the hell does she think she is, I thought she said that no-one was above the law.?

I do not doubt that DNA profiling is a useful tool in the fight against crime, however, there are other civil liberty concerns that should have been considered. This government has ignored any civil liberty and right to privacy issues by introducing legislation that allows DNA profiles to be retained irrespective of whether the people involved have been convicted of an offence. This is an affront to the people of this country and it has taken the European Court to uphold our rights by applying an equal measure of commonsense and existing human rights laws to come to a judgement.

What a pity this government could not have done the same. In part, we are at fault, because so many people fall, hook line and sinker, everytime the government come out with a line as to why they need to bring in new, draconian laws, believing it will never affect majority of us. Well that is simply not true. Once you discard our right to liberty, privacy and freedom, you deny us virtually everything, given it is but a short step to a police state. Take the Damian Green affair, the opposition parties never thought that the laws which they allowed this government to pass would come back and bite them in the backside, they thought it just affected the plebs! The police and security services in this country have unprecedented powers for a democratic country.

This government, as arrogant as ever, has insisted that the existing laws will remain in place whilst they consider the judgement. What? They have just been rebuked by 17 judges, from across Europe and they still insist that they are right. Does the arrogance of Jacqui Smith and the New Labour government know no bounds? A European Court has ruled that this government has not acted reasonably having failed to get the balance between the public interest and that of the private individual. In fact they noted in their judgement that England, Wales and Northern Ireland appear to be the only countries in the European Union that allow the indefinite retention of DNA profiles. Further, that in effect, this government has not applied any commonsense, nor have they considered the European Charter prior to drafting the legislation. Surely a competent government would not have drafted laws in this country without considering how they would impact on European Human Rights legislation? Unless of course, they couldn’t give a toss, believing that we are all so stupid that we will accept whatever is thrown at us, only realising that we have lost when it is too late to do anything about it.

I would like to see one of the major parties take up civil liberty issues and try and redress the balance between state and individual, because as far as I can see, we are sleep-walking into a police state, where civil liberties, freedom and a right to privacy is disregarded by a government with a phobia for control, a penchant for bullying and delusional self-gratification. No wonder they spend so much time in from of mirrors!

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Members of Parliament and self-interest

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Members of Parliament and self-interest

Tomorrow at Prime Ministers Question time, the opposition parties shall seek to raise the issue of the arrest of Damian Green. In particular, they will want to know how much advance notice, if any, government ministers or senior civil servants had and why the police were allowed to search Green’s offices? In doing so, they are expected to cite the fact that leaks are necessary if government is to be held to account, provided the information is not protected by the Official Secrets Act. Further, that members of parliament are entitled to have legal privilege between them and their constituents. All very noble, but it completely misses the point, the Damian Green affair was the result, not the cause.

Instead of looking at self-interest, our elected members of parliament, in government and opposition, must look at the laws they have been passed that have allowed this type of attack on our democratic process. The truth is, the opposition parties have been lead like lambs to the slaughter by this government, who have said, if you don’t support our draconian anti-terror legislation, then we shall publicise the fact that you are soft on crime or security. Like little lambs, instead of holding the government to account, the opposition parties went to the slaughter. In other words, they didn’t do their jobs, it is all very well bleating about holding the government to account now, but what have they been doing for the past 11 years?

What is needed is a complete review of the anti-terror laws that have been introduced under this government. Opposition parties must seek clarity on how these laws are being implemented and used against the original intent when the legislation was ‘sold’ to parliament. Because I am certain, that no MP expected anti-terror laws to be used to sequestrate the assets of an otherwise friendly country (Iceland), but that is precisely what happened. The police and security services have demanded and received new laws that allow them powers akin to those of a police state. To date, unlike many police states, they do not torture those arrested, but with 30,000 tasers being order, perhaps that is just a matter of time.

Eleven years ago, the police would not have had the powers that were used to arrest Damian Green. Nor would they have been able to gather telephone intercept evidence without a judges warrant. That is no longer the case.

Damian Green should be grateful that the police did not believe that he was receiving information contained under the Official Secrets Act, because then, theoretically, he could have been detained without charge for up to a month, not 9 hours. That is the problem, the police and security services have been given massive powers over the people of this country, not targeted powers for wrongdoers, but blanket powers that can be used against anyone including MP’s. Whatever this government says, the police are a tool of state, after all, the most senior policeman in the land is not elected, he is appointed by none other than the Home Secretary.
The people of this country have seen a massive erosion of their rights, freedom and liberties over the past 11 years and this event has highlighted this. Even the ‘New Labour’ supporting newspaper The Sun, has finally determined that the state has too much power over the populous.

People that claim we are moving towards a police state are branded as nutters, yet Privacy International were moved to say of the UK ”The worst ranking EU country is the United Kingdom, which again fell into the “black” category along with Russia and Singapore.” And that our “identity scheme is still planned to be the most invasive in the world, highly centralised and biometrics-driven“.

This is what I said a month ago on the issue of government control:

The people of this country have had to endure an increasing level of state interference in their everyday lives, from 4.2m CCTV cameras, to chips in rubbish bins. With proposals that include a massive Big Brother Britain database which would store information on calls, text messages, locations, emails and internet browsing habits. Airport scanners which see though clothes, identity cards which include our most private and intimate details. Our children from the age of 5, will be monitored by the state to include their most private details such as details on their mental health, sexual health or any substance abuse treatment. The list is endless, as is the number of ‘agencies’ that will have access to this information, some 700 as last count!.

I earnestly hope that the opposition parties will take the wider issues into account. In other words, how we got where we are today, how and why the state and their agents have so much power, that people can be detained for a month without charge, have their email, phone calls, text messages and internet browsing habits, routinely captured and stored, their DNA taken and stored, even where no charge has been laid etc, etc. This has all been done in the name of fighting crime or terrorism, but what a price we have had to pay. Yet the terrorist threat has not been lessened and crime is not falling. All that has transpired is the police need less evidence to make a charge and have gained more charges to target the majority with. It is an appalling state of affairs in what has become Big Brother Britain. We need to reverse this situation now and there is no better opportunity than the Damian Green affair to widen the debate. Opposition parties must insist on a public debate on the issue of all the new legislation that has been introduced at the expense of our civil liberties, right to privacy and individual freedom.

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Cameron objects to a Police State

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Cameron objects to a Police State

How ironic that it has taken the arrest of Damian Green, the Shadow Immigration Minister to provoke David Cameron into describing the police as “Stalinesque“. Because his party has sat on its hands whilst this Labour government has consistently removed the rights and civil liberties of every single person in this country. What is Cameron’s problem, does he think he is a cut above the rest of us, that the draconian, Big Brother Britain laws introduced to control the citizens of this country shouldn’t be used against a member of parliament? Pathetic little man, it was Cameron’s job to keep this control obsessed government in check, he failed, now one of his minister pays the price. Bloody good job if this is what it has taken to wake Cameron and his party from their self-induced slumber.

For what it is worth, I completely agree, the police action was outrageous, but what did Cameron expect? On his watch, New Labour has introduced a raft of measures and legislation designed specifically to allow the state to control, spy and monitor every one of its citizens. This includes, but is not limited to tracking our vehicle movements through ANPR or CCTV cameras; indulging in recording, monitoring and commenting on our most personal details on a health service database; or having voyeuristic access to very email, text message and call we make. Then to compund this abuse of power by making the information available to up to 800 separate agencies, including private companies. Just yesterday, Jacqui Smith ordered 10,000 Tasers to be used against the people of this country, with the stated intention of arming 30,000 front line officers and barely a murmur from Cameron’s compliant party of opposition.

The police in this country have been given unprecedented powers, akin to that of a repressive police state, not the police “service” of a first world country and yet they are asking for even more. This government has pandered to their every whim, like a lovesick teenager, not the objective supervising team they are supposed to be. It was as if government ministers were in awe and the police no longer want to detect or investigate crime, preferring to monitor everyone and wait for them to make a wrong move.

Take a look at what has happened over the past 35 years in the police service. Foot patrols became mobile patrols, mobile patrols became poorly trained ‘plastic’ policemen. The ‘plastics’ were given uniforms that have been deliberately modeled to make it difficult to determine whether it is a PCSO or a proper copper. The traditional baton was enhanced with pepper spray, which is now going to be supplemented with the life threatening Taser guns. No wonder they need to go around in cars! Could Cameron’s Conservative party not see a pattern emerging here? If he is smart enough to be proposed as the next prime minister, why was he no so bright as to see what was coming, or perhaps he thought it didn’t apply to his sort!

We are told by government ministers that crime has been falling, especially violent crime, so why do the police have a need for such violent weapons to combat a smaller threat. News that every front line officer is to be provided with a Taser is unprecedented, what has happened here, have the police officers lost their bottle? There was a time when being a police officer meant you had to have courage, now police officers routinely hide behind their computer screens, desks and ridiculous health & safety rules that inhibit policing and risk to a level akin to crossing a busy road.

God forbid that police officers should have to leave their comfortable cars or offices to a investigate crime or risk getting hurt in the line of duty. What type of police officer feels the need to have an array of weapons which include a baton, pepper spray and a deadly taser gun before he or she will go outside and meet what is a relatively law abiding public? Under this government, the police have been allowed to determine which crimes they investigate, so for example, victims of burglaries and vandelism must accept a crime number, with no investigation. With very few exceptions, everyone that I know that has had to report a crime or interface with the police have come away appalled at their lack of commitment or unwillingness to investigating crime. The fact that anyone going to a police station to report a crime is expected to deal with a civilian is indicative of where the police have gone wrong. Bottom line Cameron, is the police service needs to be hauled in, they have quite simply go too big for their boots.

Gordon Brown claimed that his would be an open government. Whilst his ministers may not like the leaking of certain documents, if it is in the public interest, they should not be using the police as a weapon of state to punish those concerned. After all, if there was no national security risk, just a possibility of a minister being embarrassed or caught out in a lie, why the need for anti-terrorist officers. The claim that no minister knew the police were going to arrest Damien Green really pushes at the fringes of credibility.

But I feel the need to point David Cameron in the right direction. The problem is when government provides such a wide definition of a law. For example, Green was arrested on arrested on “suspicion of conspiring to commit misconduct in a public office and aiding and abetting, counselling or procuring misconduct in a public office“. Now that encompasses just about everything. By the same token, this government has used similar, broad definitions to destroy many of the civil liberties and rights to privacy of the individual in this country under the guise of anti-terror laws. Cameron’s party wanting to appear tough on crime and terror legislation have been compliant to the extent that they could be accused of being complicit in the whole sorry state of affairs.

Our police service now has unprecedented powers, passed to them by a compliant government, that was intent on achieving state control. Damien Green has now become a victim of Big Brother Britain, his boss doesn’t like it and neither do we! Perhaps Cameron and co, will now realise how the public feel about the removal of our rights by opposing new legislation and offering to repeal similar, uneccessary acts. I am personally delighted that one of Cameron’s MP’s has had the opportunity to feel first hand the affects of a repressive state.

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