Tag Archive | "tasers"

Paul Stephenson, are you proud of the Met?

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Paul Stephenson, are you proud of the Met?


So, we have IPCC investigations into the conduct of two police officers and now, Her Majesty’s Chief Inspector of Constabulary (HMIC) will review policing tactics. No doubt, these investigations will take an age to come to any conclusions, so much of the detail will have faded by that time. No doubt we will also have a new Met Commissioner and undoubtedly a new Government. So that’s all right then!

It does not take a review or an inquiry to determine that herding law-abiding citizens into a small area and then stopping them from leaving amounts to an illegal detention. None of these people have committed a crime, therefore to prevent them from leaving the area, when they have not been arrested, amounts to the Metropolitan Police breaking the law they are supposed to uphold. What type of example  is this? There has been a court case on this police tactic and the courts suggested that so long as it is proportionate, then it is legal, that cannot be acceptable to the majority in this country!

The Police call this tactic “Kettling”, because it is supposed to take the steam out of a potentially violent situation, however those contained would argue that it is more likely a cynical description of the fact that protestors will want to let off steam when they find themselves ilegally contained. This almost smacks of deliberate provocation or at the very least, active baiting.

No Police force is above the law, and there must be an immediate and unambiguous commitment made by the police that they will never again illegally detain innocent demonstrators en-masse. Further, Jacqui Smith must also come out of her bunker, remover her blinkers and uphold the civil liberties and rights of the people, that is HER job. The containment and illegal detention policies adopted and implemented by the Metropolitan Police were more akin to those of a Police State, than those of a democracy where liberty and freedom are values are respected and upheld.

Stephenson must also provide an explanation as to why some of his officers were permitted to cover up their identification numbers and/or wear balaclavas? This does not need an inquiry, nor a review, just an explanation from the boss and a commitment that it will never happen again. Otherwise we will be forced to draw our only conclusions as to why those required to uphold the law would feel the need to hide their identities with methods normally associated with the criminal fraternity…disguised identity numbers, balaclavas etc.

The very latest images of a large police officer cuffing a small woman is completely unacceptable, as was the use of a baton by the same officer on the same woman. No matter what the verbal provocation, police officers are supposed to be highly trained, they are supposed to defuse, not inflame volatile situations. What if the crowd erupted over this incident? Based on the evidence I have seen and assuming that the officer was verbally abused, I can see no justification whatsoever in slapping the woman across the face and then using a steel baton against her. This was not proportionate. The question must be whether this was an isolated incident or more akin with modern policing tactics in the Met, or further afield.

Whatever the circumstances, based on what I witnessed on television, this is not how I want our country represented abroad, this did not feel like a country that permitted peaceful demonstration and free speech, it did not feel like we had a world class police service and above all, it gave me the impression of being in something akin to a police state. Aggressive policing, active herding of law-abiding demonstrators, officers attempting to hide their identities and overwhelming force does not make me feel free. By all means, the police must protect people and property, but this scatter gun approach does not work, it is oppressive and has no place in a free society.

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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 Civil Liberties, General, Labour | Comments (0)

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)

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.

Posted in General | Comments (5)

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.

Posted in General | Comments (4)

Tasers to be used against British citizens

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Tasers to be used against British citizens


News that Jacqui Smith feels obliged to order another 10,000 Tasers at a time when the government coffers are empty has to be worrying for the British public. Whilst we know that this government doesn’t really care about how much of our money they spend, because they can just put up our taxes, the timing is very interesting and surely cannot be a coincidence.

Alistair Darling has just announced that the government finances are in a complete mess (not his words of course), in fact, if the country was a business, it would almost certainly need to call in the administrators. The economic reality of this situation has already started to trickle down, resulting in higher taxes at a time when people can least afford it ( ignore the VAT stimulus con ), the loss of peoples homes, fewer jobs etc. A public backlash is almost inevitable, as soon as those that still insist on hero worshipping New Labour for ‘shafting the rich’ realise that they too must pay a price. A very high one at that.

You might think that in a developed country, government would seek to reassure people and provide genuine support or advice at a time of national crisis. But there are two systemic problems preventing this. The first is this government has wasted so much of our money on social engineering projects and Big Brother Britain spying exercises, that there is nothing left. In fact it is worse than that, we have a massive public debt, over £1 trillion. So financial support is not a viable option, hence the reason this government introduced a ‘fiscal stimulus’ based on Alice in Wonderland economics, purchase taxes. If New Labour were serious about a fiscal stimulus package, they would have offered a reduction in direct taxation, which would at least be tangible.

The second issue is that this government has never engaged with the public. Instead they have bribed their own voters with tax credits and the like, whilst bullying all other sections of the community including business to pay for them. The Pre-Budget Report, was supposed to demonstrate that New Labour cares, but anyone with any nous will know that it is an elaborate con, all presentation and no substance….classic New Labour smoke and mirrors. The bottom line is we should always be wary of a government that wants to be your best mate when they have been shafting you for the past 11 years. In other words, this government only knows how to preach, bully, con and bribe. The government also knows that eventually, they will get caught out and that day is looming ever closer, so they must now return to type. Bring forward Big Brother Britain and force.

So what can we expect? Unlike 1984, we will not witness the police controlling protesters armed with batons and shields, instead, in Big Brother Britain, we shall have to contemplate our police force using Tasers against its own citizens. This is in spite of the fact that Tasers are claimed to have lead to the death of up to 300 people in America. They say timing is everything. Why else would Jacqui Smith place such a massive order for Tasers? It appears to me that they are anticipating some form of backlash and they intend to suppress it with deadly, uncompromising force. This will be no surprise to those that have seen the UK moving steadily move towards a police state, but for the rest and that will be the majority, it is likely to become something of a shock, no pun intended!

Posted in General | Comments (6)

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