Tag Archive | "resist"

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)

Big Brother Britain goes mobile in Manchester

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Big Brother Britain goes mobile in Manchester


Not satisfied with 4.2m CCTV cameras, speed cameras and ANPR, the Greater Manchester Casualty Reduction Partnership has now introduced (as a pilot) a Smart Car complete with high level CCTV camera. The aim is to catch errant motorists that speed, use a mobile phone, park illegally or commit any other form of motoring offence. Drivers can then expect to receive, in the post, a fine and/or penalty notice which could carry 3 points.

At a time when the public struggle to get the police to act when they are the victim of a burglary, anti-social behaviour, fraud or criminal damage, the police have decided to continue persecuting drivers, simply because they are an easy target and the police can claim to have detected, investigated and prosecuted another crime. Great for their clear up rates! However, this type of prosecution (or persecution) lacks any interaction with the public, therefore it is likely to create even more resentment between the police and the public at a time when they need all the support they can get.

Of course, this type of system will only be able to trace and prosecute people that are, for the most part, law abiding. This is because these types of cameras rely entirely on the registration number and as we all know, there are over 1m vehicles on the road where the drivers have no insurance and/or bogus registered keeper details. So the serious criminals will be simply get away with it. I am not defending law breaking, instead I am advocating a programme where the police treat all crime seriously, rather than placing so much resource behind a single section of the community, because is is easier to secure a ‘hands up’ prosecution.

At a time of economic mayhem, increased cases of serious crime and terrorist threats, the police, presumably supported by politicians, make clear where their primary focus will remain. Targeting easy crime. Of course these cameras won’t just take pictures of errant motorists, operating constantly, they cannot discriminate between an errant motorist and someone going about their normal business. So must we all acccept that, if extended, we must allow ourselves to be monitored by 4.2m CCTV cameras, as well as mobile cameras?

Big Brother Britain is getting out of hand. Everything we do and say is being monitored and stored, this does not feel like a free and democratic country, instead is seems like we are in a police state. Civil liberty campaigners are often derided, as are those that claim we are moving to a police state, but take my word for it, in a few years time, the people of this country will realise that far from being reactionary, these people were visionary…and unlike our politicians, they have been speaking the truth.

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

British Police are out of control

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British Police are out of control


Now I am not just referring to the case of Ian Tomlinson the bystander who died of a heart attack shortly after being hit (allegedly) by a police officer at the G20. No, I am basing my statement on the fact that the Police appear are, for all intents and purposes, a law unto themselves.

Unless you are very lucky, anyone that has had to report a crime to the Police will be aware that they (the Police) are the ultimate arbiter as to which crimes they will investigate and which one’s they will not. This is likely to depend on what their local priorities are, which can range from Government targets, to a local, ‘wet behind the ears’ Police Inspector’s latest management wheeze, designed only to progress his career. A friend of mine has a business which is in a street just behind the main police station, it has been plagued for over 5 years by open drug dealing, anti-social behaviour, criminal damage, tenant intimidation and arson. The best the Police can do is send a PCSO around the industrial estate once or twice a day, the ‘local’ bobby was moved off the area nearly 2 years ago. He has not been replaced.

A neighbour of mine has complained 3 times over a period of 5 weeks about cars parking on the ‘zig-zags’ outside her children’s school. She was prompted into action after witnessing a near miss accident when a child ran onto a crossing, he could not see the car and the driver could not see him because of 3 other cars being parked on the zig zags. The first time she complained, a PCSO was sent over, but only one person dared to park on the zig zags that day, but the PCSO could do nothing anyway. Then a traffic officer promised to do several drive-by’s at the appropriate time, a promise he failed to keep. On the 3rd complaint, the local police officer “promised” to deal with the issue, that was two weeks before the kids broke up for Easter, nothing happened. What has made her particularly angry, is that she has witnessed 5 police cars over the period in question manoeuvre their own vehicles around those illegally parked without do anything about it, not so much as a warning.

The Government has recently launched a new initiative designed to ‘engage’ with the public, but no-one seems to have told their front-line staff. If you try and speak to your local officer you must go through their call centre, staff will record the information and state that they will pass it on to the relevany departement, but offer no promises of any action. If the police do respond, it will not be a proper copper, it will be a PCSO. If you want to lodge a complaint you cannot speak to a ‘senior officer’ (by that they mean anyone of sergeant level of above, yep…a sergeant) by telephone, no, you must go into the station.

My car was hit my an uninsured motorcyclist. To his (the drivers) credit he gave me his correct name and details. When I went to the police station, I had to give all of the details to a civilian, not a police officer. The police never contacted me about the issue, I had to chase them, when I eventually got an answer they said they would be taking no action because there was no independent witness. I can tell you, that I KNOW they never even visited the other driver, much less investigated the incident, it was just swept under the carpet. They did not even bother to come and get a statement from me, something that had been promised. This is just a small microcosm of what is happening today, little wonder, that in spite of there being over 150,000 police officers, crime is up, detection is down and people feel less safe than ever before.

Meanwhile, everytime the Police want more powers, Jacqui Smith gives in to them. The police have unprecedented powers, they can even decide on whether or not we can exercise our ‘democratic right’ to demonstrate. At the G20, the Police effectively (and illegally) detained thousands of people by shepherding them into certain areas and then insisting that they remain there. What civilised democracy allows their police to act in such a way? When the Police decided that the demonstrations must end, they then acted like street yobs themselves by bullying, for the most part, well-behaved and peaceful protesters. I do not, nor would I ever criticise the Police for dealing quickly and decisively with those breaking the law, acting in a threatening manner or intent on trouble at such demonstrations, but to tar everyone with the same brush is completely unacceptable.

The film of Tomlinson appears to show an unprovoked attack on someone who was trying to go home and had no part in the demonstrations. The film depicts an image of a police office hitting him with a baton and then shoving him over. The man had his hands in his pockets and his back to the Police, he was even walking away, based on the filmed evidence he posed no threat to the officers. That did not stop one Police Officer acting in a manner that was completely unacceptable and reckless. Only a complete idiot would push a man with such force that he could fall forward, but would only be able to break the fall if he was to get his hands out of his pockets in time. This action was captured on film, prior to that the Police were denying that there was any interaction between them and the victim. There is no suggestion here that the actions of the Police were a contributory factor to the mans death, instead, I contend that the Police Officer, on the face of it, acted in what appeared to be an aggressive and unprofessional manner. Further, the Police tactics of dealing with the G20 demonstrators amounted to nothing other than illegal detention, it must not happen on our streets again.

The current Police baton is a very serious piece of kit and would be considered an illegal weapon if carried by a civilian, because it could prove lethal. Yet the Police routinely bring out the baton when there is NO threat, just watch any ‘fly on the wall’ programme on the Police service. Officers also have CS gas and now, all front line officers are to be ‘armed’ with lethal Tasers. Have the public been provided with any safeguards against rogue or over-zealous Police Officers, no, in fact they (the Police) can now rely on new legislation to prevent anyone filming them? Little wonder people refer to this country becoming a Police State.

I am NOT anti-police, but I believe people that are paid to do a job must do it, they should not be allowed to pick and choose which bits they will or will not do on a whim. Further, officers are given extensive training on how to handle difficult situations calmly and professionally whilst always operating within the law. The film clip of the Tomlinson incident suggests that there are some officers out there who think they can do what they want or perhaps that they are above the law.  Yet the Police are forever whining, especially is anyone dares to criticise them or expect them to fight crime.

If a Police Officer dies in the line of duty, we are reminded at how the Police put their lives on the line to protect the public every day, now that is true. But they also know what is expected of them before they join the police service, they are well trained and very well rewarded. Good career prospects, excellent salary and pension scheme and if they behave themselves, a job for life. However, scratch below the surface and the ‘danger’ aspect of policing in this country just doesn’t stand up to scrutiny, with all the health and safety rules they must adhere to and the fact that they so rarely get their hands dirty, it is probably one of the safest. Many times more travelling salesmen die in the course of their work than police officers.

The police have demanded and received from compliant politicians more and more powers to monitor, control and deal with ordinary members of the public. Further, they have been given physical weapons and new laws that they can use against any person they so wish, with little, if any independent oversight. They have people within their ranks (serving officers) that have been charged and found guilty of offenses ranging from drink driving, through to violence and drug dealing…..yet they are still expect the public to trust them. Even though these same officers will be the ultimate arbiter of which laws to enforce, when and against whom. A succession of compliant Ministers have made the police in this country all powerful and answerable to no-one. We must wrestle control back to where it must be and that is with the people….because it is difficult to argue that the British Police are NOT out of control.

 

SPREAD THE WORD:

A Conservative MP is seeking a second reading for a new Bill, titled ‘Exercise of Reasonable Discretion’. If passed into law, this will allow every public servant, including MP, civil servants, local government officers, the police etc., a legal defence of ‘reasonable discretion’ in any civil or criminal case brought about as a consequence of their actions. All they would have to prove, is that they acted in good faith, this as anyone in the know will understand, is a catch-all defence.

In essence, it could allow MP’s to argue that they made certain decisions, such as going to war, based on advice where they were required to use reasonable discretion, officials entering into multi-million pound contracts which are subsequently cancelled or overrun, will also be able to claim that they exercised reasonable discretion. It is effectively a get out of jail free card for any public servant. Effectively removing accountability and increasing risk, because of course, if there is no effective punishment, there is no need to be careful. We should all shout as loud as we can to ensure that this type of legislation never sees the light of day.

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

ONSET a profiling tool that discriminates based on probability

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ONSET a profiling tool that discriminates based on probability


What a pity that there has been so little publicity and therefore outrage at this Governments introduction of a new child profiling tool called ONSET, which will profile our children to determine whether they are likely to become a young offender. This Government has spent an inordinate amount of time, effort and legislative time to ensure that people are not discriminated against based on their gender, sexuality, race or religion and yet, they seek to justify a profiling system that will identify potential child offenders based on their background.

What, you may ask, will they do with this information when they have it? Will they ‘tag’ potential offenders, monitor their movements, track their mobile phone calls, internet habits, email etc? Will they blacklist these ‘potential offenders’ from working in the public sector, or certain jobs, or will they issue a presumptuous ASBO? Does anyone truly believe that State authorities will not use this information for some discriminatory purpose? When did our right to be innocent until proven guilty disappear, perhaps it was with the introduction of the new detention without trial laws? I don’t know, but there is something seriously wrong with society and people in general if they are prepared to allow the State so much power, that they can do whatever they want. Our reluctance to do or say anything is a betrayal of future generations, because one thing is absolutely certain, no government will ever give up these new powers willingly.

What have our local members of parliament been doing when legislation of this type is introduced, perhaps there is a clue in the fact that unless it is Prime Ministers Questions, parliament is virtually empty. Little wonder that contempt for MP’s has turned into outright hatred as they spend more and more time looking at how they can screw their expenses to maximise their earnings, rather than doing what they are paid for. As for the opposition parties, what have they been doing whilst all this has been going on? Their job is to hold the government to account, they too have failed the people of this country.

Keeping a roof over our heads, food on the table and earning a living are logical and understandable priorities, but to ignore other massive issues such as our fundamental right to freedom, liberty and a right to live our lives without an overbearing state is simply parlous. If we cannot enjoy our freedom and liberty, what is the point in it all? Like it or not, the state is pimping off the people, demanding ever more money. The bottom line is, that the State Pimp lives off the backs of honest hardworking citizens, but the State Pimp also knows, that at some stage, the people will rise and ask why Government needs to take over 50% of our earned income in direct and indirect taxation?

To minimise state risk, they must exert more and more control over its citizens and the introduction of ONSET, DNA Databases, call and email monitoring, registration of travel information and so on is giving them precisely that. For those that think this is scaremongering, perhaps they should ask themselves why it is now, that Jacqui Smith has ordered 10,000 Tasers for all front line police officers?

ONSETis the thin end of the wedge. Though I am not advocating the LibDems as a party worthy of our vote, they are introducing the Freedom Act which is designed to roll back some 20 years of increasing state interference in our everyday lives, by repealing legislation. We should all be writing to our respective MP’s and insisting that they support this proposal.

Update: For more information http://www.jrrt.org.uk/uploads/database-state.pdf

Posted in Big Brother, Civil Liberties, Conservatives, General, Labour, Lib Dems, World | Comments (9)

Government to spend over £100bn on spy databases

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Government to spend over £100bn on spy databases


In another example of this government paying lip service to the rights and freedoms of the individual, The Joseph Rowntree Reform Trust, suggests that some 25% of government databases are actually illegal, either under Human Right Legislation or the Data Protection Act. As you would expect from a government that has slowly eroded our liberty and privacy, there is no apology or commitment to put things right, instead we are expected to accept a bland statement as follows: “It takes its responsibilities seriously and will consider any concerns carefully, adapting existing safeguards where necessary.” Take the rebuke the government received in December from the European Courts, in relation to the DNA database, have they done anything about it? No! In fact, the government doesn’t even know how many databases they have!

This year the government will spend £16bn on databases and they are committed to spend a further £105bn over the next 5 years. Has no-one reminded them that there is a deep recession going on? This government has indicated that it will have to raise taxes to balance the books, this includes increasing national insurance by 0.5%, raising income tax to 45% for those earning over £150k and an increase in VAT to 18.5%. This is in addition to the double whammy on fuel duties as a consequence of the fuel escalator and the shafting we were given when this government adjusted the fuel duty to take eliminate the “benefit” of the reduction in VAT to 15%. They will now gain that money back when they increase VAT back to 17.5%, because the duties will not be adjusted.

We are expected to pay additional taxes to this pathetic administration at a time when we must all trim back our costs whilst the government are continuing to spend £billions on unnecessary databases which only service to destroy individual civil liberties and right to privacy. It is the state gone mad. Take one of ‘their’ databases, Onset, this is a profiling tool which examines a child’s behaviour and social background to identify potential child offenders. What? They are now going to use information from ContactPoint and then profile it to work out who tomorrow’s criminal are likely to be. How long do you think it will be before they are using all of the data gathered from the various databases to work out how adults might behave? One thing they do not need a database for is to profile an MP’s likelihood to maximise their expenses, quoting their adherence to the rules, rather than the spirit of the arrangement. It doesn’t bear close scrutiny, yet their couldn’t give a toss what we think, so long as they have claimed as much as they can, without breaking the rules.

But, don’t think that the Conservative Party will do anything to redress these massive state powers that have been ceded to ministers through the introduction of ever more draconian legislation, the Conservatives have said virtually nothing. Cameron hasn’t got the backbone to deal with this issue, no he prefers to talk about “social cohesion” and tell us that we must all accept higher taxes, even though he doesn’t know how much money he could save by curbing public sector excess and waste. Gordon Brown maybe deluded and an idiot, but Cameron is also demonstrating that he is a bit of a prat, because he can’t see how angry the people of this country are, not just with the government, but the opposition who have sat idly by and allowed it to happen.

The reality is the majority of the people in this country are so complacent, they haven’t got a clue that this massive land grab of state power will affect each and everyone of us in the future, irrespective of whether we have done anything wrong. This is so clearly not about fighting crime and terrorism and anyone that believes otherwise is at best, naive and more likely, plain stupid.  No government will ever hand these powers back, so unless we start to fight back now, we will have to accept that each and EVERY aspect of our lives will be recorded and monitored. That is not a free democracy, it is a police state. Me, well quite frankly, I have had enough!

Posted in Big Brother, Civil Liberties, Conservatives, General, Labour, Lib Dems | Comments (6)

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)

Blunkett and onset of Big Brother Britain

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Blunkett and onset of Big Brother Britain


Hard-liner, David Blunkett, is expected to criticise the government’s continued obsession with creating a surveillance society intent on infringing the liberty and rights of British citizens in an address at the 21st annual law lecture in Essex University’s Colchester campus. Although Blunkett is expected, wrongly in my opinion, to claim that the government has got the balance between liberty and security he will voice concern over other highly contentious issues.

He will come out against the Government’s controversial plan to set up a database holding details of telephone calls and emails and its proposal to allow public bodies to share personal data with each other. He will also suggest a complete U-Turn on compulsory identity cards, although he is expected to insist that they should be mandatory for all foreign nationals. David Blunkett is also expected to urge the Justice Secretary, Jack Straw, to dilute the provisions of the Coroners and Justice Bill on data sharing between public bodies. He will warn: “It is not simply whether the intentions are benign, undoubtedly they are, but whether they are likely to be misused and above all what value their use may have.” Similarly, he is expected to criticise the misuse of the 2000 Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act, which has been used for example, by local councils to tackle dog fouling and the monitoring of rubbish (no, not MP’s, refuse!)

When someone that so vehemently supported the introduction of ID cards and tough anti-terror laws raises concerns about the risk to privacy and liberty, the government must sit up and take notice. Although Blunkett’s comments are measured, it is reasonable to surmise that he is genuinely concerned and in order not to embarrass the government, he has couched his comments to be received positively. In just over a week, we have had the former head of MI5 criticising this government’s intrusion into our lives and now a former, hard-line Home Secretary. When will the government realise that they have gone way to far and, when will opposition parties appreciate that they would be pushing at an open door if they agreed to review and if necessary, repeal oppressive and draconian legislation that infringes the rights of the people of this country?

I will let David Blunkett have the last few words. “The strength of our democracy is that we are able to challenge when the well-meaning, but sometimes misguided, take their own knowledge of the threats we face to be justification for protecting our mutual interest at the expense of our individual freedom. If we tolerate the intolerable, the intolerable gradually becomes the norm.”

Posted in Big Brother, Civil Liberties, Conservatives, General, Labour, Lib Dems | Comments (2)

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