Archive for Police Officers

Should the Police be above the law?

Self evidently Police Officers are treated as being above the law, but should this be the case?

Should the Police be above the law?

Should the Police be above the law?

A quarter of a million stop and search events last year were unlawful, but despite the numbers and the acknowledgement that Police Officers carrying out unlawful stop and searches, were as a result breaking the law themselves – how many Police Officers have been charged with Civil or Criminal offences over this illegal activity?

The murder of members of the public, or as the state prefers to call it – unlawful killing, results in very few charges ever being brought and even fewer convictions.

The mounting evidence of endemic Police corruption, going back decades is and always has been brushed aside as merely a small problem, or something from the past. Neither is true and it should not be tolerated.

Police regions are investigated by other police regions and the IPCC is filled with former Police Officers so it is hardly a surprise that little changes and the arrogance and indifference grows ever more prevalent.

Should the Police be above the law? – In my view an emphatic no.

The UK Subs – Police State seems appropriate for the song of the day.

Submission: The Best of UK Subs (1982-1998) – UK Subs

*Purchases made throught the iTunes link will result in Anarchy in The UK earning a commission.

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Economical with the actualité

Lying has become such an endemic strategy in British Politics, Business and Policing that it is little surprise the general public is dismissive.

Edmund Burke

Edmund Burke

Back in 18th Century Edmund Burke – who as an MP in the the House of Commons for The Whigs came up with the euphemism for lying with his summation – ‘Falsehood and delusion are allowed in no case whatsoever: But, as in the exercise of all the virtues, there is an economy of truth.’ Burke is viewed as the philosophical founder of modern Conservatism. Politicians of all sections have learnt the lesson well.

In 1986 another politician –  A former Cabinet Minister – Robert Armstrong – brought it in to common parlance, whilst giving evidence during the Australian spycatcher trial in 1986.

Lawyer: What is the difference between a misleading impression and a lie?
Armstrong: A lie is a straight untruth.
Lawyer: What is a misleading impression – a sort of bent untruth?
Armstrong: As one person said, it is perhaps being “economical with the truth”.

In 1992 yet another politician – Alan Clark tried to make it all seem so noble an art for politicians to master when at the Matrix Churchill trial he exchanged under questioning -

Clark: Well it’s our old friend “being economical”, isn’t it?
Lawyer: With the truth?
Clark: With the actualité

This paroxysm of lying is now an inbred part of the culture of politicians in the UK that no-one sees it is a surprise. But it needn’t be the case and it is time the British Public and Media took Politicians to task for consistent lies rather than smile sweetly as with a naughty toddler.

Sadly this virus has spread wider than politicians and it is not a unusual site to look around a jury and find half the members stifling a laugh when a Policeman takes to the stand and takes a look at their black notebook – proclaiming – ‘this is what I observed at the time’.

This spiral of lies and deceit has subsequently found Bankers, Retailers, Manufacturers etc. deciding to join in the band wagon. That little bit of ‘bending the truth’ runs rife through the UK and is not acceptable and those in positions of influence must be called to account.

It is why Politicians think fiddling expenses is a fine and dandy thing to do. It is why none of these Police Officers –  who can be clearly seen looking directly at the assault – actually saw anything of Harwood pushing and murdering Ian Tomlinson -

The murder of Ian Tomlinson

The murder of Ian Tomlinson

It is why staff at agencies such as A4E and G4S sign contracts they have no intention of fulfilling and seeking to find mechanisms to secure payment with little come-back, on occasion resorting to outright fraud – for which no-one is ever made accountable.

It is why Blair continues to fly around the world lecturing on moral probity when the September 2002 document in which his introduction advised – The document discloses that his military planning allows for some of the WMD to be ready within 45 minutes of an order to use them. -

Not only was the document proven to be wrong but his introduction an outright lie.

 

This comical and sweet sounding term –  Economical with the actualité – is a pernicious and dangerous festering sore that needs to be stamped out.

 

 

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Social Unrest

We constantly hear that the protestors in the August 2011 disturbances in UK are scum, hooligans and common criminals. Certainly there are elements who fit that category, however to focus on the minority is to miss the reality of how deeply divided the country stands.

Social disconnect

Social disconnect

We have a Society which just recently was torn asunder by a systemic failure in the Banking system, old preconceptions of Capitalism were ripped away by the crass behaviour of banks to fail to secure their loans, under the pretext of lending rules, which even now permit banks to count loans as capital. Complex financial instruments which Credit Rating agencies failed to understand and rated incorrectly, regulators who didn’t understand what they were regulating and a political and media frenzy focused on revenue generation.

Bankers were rewarded for going bankrupt and individuals were convinced it would all be fine in the end. The mantra of 2.5% inflation was all that mattered, itself a fictitious number drawn from no genuine analysis.

The net result being a perception that greed really was good and avarice and ownership is the mark of attainment.

On the collapse, instead of a humbling of the banks, the Labour Party decided to refinance the banks with taxpayers money with no sanctions or penalty. This has led those self same banks to be in the position of lending money to the Governments who bailed them out, with effectively the very money that6 bailed them out, at punitive rates of interest. The new Government while talking tough have in reality merely punished the tax-payers further for the failure of politicians to seize the metal.

We still have a Society in which ownership of the latest bling is the measure of value and it can hardly be of any surprise that those with no bling are somewhat miffed at the situation. We hear much talk of the sharing of pain, but those in the have not pile feel, justifiably or not, that the pain is being inflicted at the have not pile.

We have a disconnect in the country as life has been too easy for too many years for the Westminster coterie. There is little public perception that MPs have actually bothered to clean up their act and we find the the Police and Media are just a bribe away from an orgy. Those with influence take, those without suffer.

I hear from Police Officers now, about how they fully support Peaceful demonstrations, but are appalled by the violence of the current round. The self-same police forces that kettle as a matter of course and cover up the murder of Ian Tomlinson. Politicians also like to spout how they accept peaceful demonstration as being a reasonable expression, but just a few months ago were lambasting Students and anti-cuts protestors as scum of the earth.

It has been evidenced that the system in which we live does not respond to either democratic vote, or demonstration. What exactly does Society expect those who are disenfranchised to do? Shut up and put up, or perhaps get violent.

These demonstrations are probably only a precursor  to more aggression. When the establishment doesn’t listen, history has shown it falls.

 

 

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UK Police licensed to Kill

The decision by the British Courts today that the Police Officers involved in the death of De Menezes in London should face no further action, have far wider implications than just on the activity of these police officers.

Killing innocent members of the public by British Police officers in the ‘line of duty’ have now effectively been ruled as acceptable. There is little doubt from the information available, regarding communication failures and incompetence that there should be culpability. Yet the officers involved in the incident are being provided with a defence that the Nuremberg Trials deemedinadmissible, ‘following orders’.

LONDON - 2005 - ARMED POLICE
Image by abux_77 via Flickr

The Police Officers have been able to defend their actions by passing the buck to higher authority, justifying their actions that they were only doing what they had been told. There can be no doubt that DeMenezes was killed on that fateful day by officers who pulled the triggers. They should be tried in open court.

It may well be that their actions were defensible against a murder charge, I would not pre-judge the verdict in such a trial, but to decide they should not be tried, simply because it isn’t expedient and the officers involved were only following orders, is unacceptable.

We have a police force which is under fire from the General Public and a State apparatus which increasingly appears determined to defend them against any open investigation.

While the UK witters on about other countries across the world, where murder by state clandestine operations is endemic, we are in danger of slipping in to that position ourselves.

Where is the result of the Tomlinson G20 death? WHy is it taking so long to actually bring this case to a conclusion.

One only has to look at investigations carried out by the IPCC into police actions in connection to the death of members of the public, to see there is no accountability. The De Menezes case may be a high profile incident, but it is far from isolated. Prosecutions over deaths of members of the public at the hands of the police are few and far between, this can not be a healthy position.

The purpose of an open trial with Judge and Jury, is meant to be the bedrock of the British Justice System. This Labour Government has already started to erode the concept, justifying it by attempting to re-write history. Now the Judiciary are also culpable in the erosion of the very Justice System they are meant to defend.

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Police complaints

Sir Robert Peel
Image via Wikipedia

Recent figures released by the IPCC show complaints regarding the police reaching a staggering 31 000 over the past year. These are only reports to the IPCC, as far as I can tell.

Yet, the blase comment by both the IPCC and various police forces up and down the country, is that this is just because people now know how to complain. The proposition being that people just complain for the sake of it and because there is now a better known complaints procedure, people are just abusing it. The additional response being that complaints were not upheld, so they were evidently just fictitious.

The state bodies in the UK is held by a corrupt and complacent group, who should not be holding office. Over every Century dramatic changes in political relationships occur, for far too long in the UK, there has been no change in the power brokers.

The Police force, set up by Peel in the 19th Century has become, without anything more than acquiescence by the population the enforcers of law and order; have gained their power through a political system which contrives to retain its own power, by creating a relationship between the two groupings with the clear intention of making the population subservient.

The Police have been permitted to decide laws, interpret laws and administer justice as they deem fit due in no small part, that the leadership of the Police forces obtain political power by serving the political power mongers.

Many countries entrust power to the Military, in the UK, due to constitutional conflict between Parliament and Monarchy, the Military have been precluded from this power share, as the Military are quite evidently and historically tied to the Monarchy. Through Acts of Parliament, the Police force have been granted powers far beyond their scope and as a result have formed an allegiance with the Government, not with the Population, which was the original intention of the ‘Peelers’.

There is no excuse for 31 000 complaints through the IPCC, the Police force are out of control as the Parliamentarians have for too long failed to see the danger of giving them carte blanche control, while their minds have been focused on ensuring the Military are kept in check.

It is far beyond time when a Police Force which murders people as they wish on the street, with no accountability, abuses Acts of Parliament to serve their own purpose again with no accountability and no interest in the population they were originally created to serve were pulled back.

The Government are afraid of the Police Forces, as they have awoken to the fact that these are the people with the powers that Government has divested while attempting to hold down Military power.

A group which receives 31 000 complaints in a year is not fit for purpose, but the Government are unable to control them and it is entirely up to the population to stop this out of control body politic.

It is long past time for change.

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Investigation into G20 Police actions

Ian Tomlinson pushed to his death

Ian Tomlinson pushed to his death

The Commons Home Affairs Committee has released its report into an investigation in to the policing at the G20 summit.

Whilst the report had some positive things to say about the policing, there are issues that really should have been addressed a long time ago and the fact that no Senior Officers are being hauled over the coals is a sad indictment of the way in which no-one is prepared to take responsibility, though they are more than happy to take the Salary, Pension and Gongs.

Once again the Police have been criticised for using inexperienced Police Officers on the front line.

The continued failure by Police Officers to display their identification is a continuing issue and as this is a common sights across protests throughout the UK, I doubt the veracity of the claim that Police Officers are told this is essential and appropriate disciplinary action is taken against those who do not display their ID at all times.

I wonder if not displaying ID is actively encouraged to those members of the police force with the most volatile tempers. The rhetoric about displaying ID is old and stale and the reality is that nothing changes.

The attitude by the Police to view protestors first and foremost as criminals was again criticised, again age old mantra, with absolutely no change in action.

The use of Section 14 of the Public Order Act 1986, is nothing more than a standard criticism of police activity, in relation to not only large scale protests, but in day to day policing, with the creep of the misuse of anti-terrorist legislation to justify the unjustifiable.

ACPO guidelines call for clear communication from the Police, yet as Commander Bob Broadhurst admitted to that this certainly was not the case at the G20. The issue of communication with large crowds goes back to the May Day protest of 2001 and prior, yet Broadhurst is happy to acknowledge once again the Police got it wrong, but doesn’t feel any need to resign. How can something as simple as communication take over 8 years to work out?

Containment tactics are once again a pressing issue for the Police to review, but they appear happy to continue using a practice, which is has a clear House of Lords ruling:

The Austin ruling says that containment as a strategy is lawful only in specific circumstances including: when the cordon is necessary for purely crowd control purposes and to protect people and property from injury, when many of the people contained were bent on violence; and those who were not demonstrators, or were seriously affected by being confined, were allowed to leave.

The use of containment is also before consideration at the European Court, yet the Police continue to use containment as a first option strategy, despite on many occasions being in breach of the House of Lords ruling. This attitude by the Police that they are above the law is not acceptable.

The use of ‘distraction’ techniques, took some in the Committee by surprise, which is no great shock as MPs don’t seem to know very much about the legislation they pass and is yet another example of committee members not having much of an idea about the subject they are investigating, making their findings fatuous, rather than incisive.

The fact that ‘distraction’, itself a misleading term, which makes it lawful for police officers to hit, kick and baton whip people in certain circumstances, is not widely known, is a concern, as it demonstrates that the lawful Power of the Police to abuse members of the Public is not widely enough understood, or appreciated.

The Metropolitan Police choose to ignore reports such as this and it will be no surprise if they choose to ignore this report. The investigation in to the Parliament Square demonstration suggested that officers’ batons that had been used, should be taken away for forensic use afterwards. The Metropolitan Police decided they didn’t like this suggestion, so decided not to comply.

Knowing full well that there are major events which occur in London, I found the statement made by Sir Paul Stephenson, to the committee astonishing:

… I then tried to place that in the context that there were 13,000 officer days during this operation. It was a remarkable operation planned over an incredibly short period of time that would normally take years and actually the vast majority of my officers did a remarkable job.

I really think this man has lost the plot. The Met handle demonstrations regularly and should be prepared to handle demonstrations regularly, yet according to Stephenson ‘It was a remarkable operation planned over an incredibly short period of time that would normally take years’ If that is the case, the Met is even more incompetent than many people think.

It is not acceptable that we hear time and time again the same issues raised with Policing, yet nothing changes. Police Officers need to understand that they are the ‘Servants of the people not Masters of the People’ and needs drumming in constantly.

The Northern Ireland Police Service has learnt rapidly how to build a relationship with protestors that does not lead to conflict and the fact that their lessons have not been widely implemented is neglect and incompetence at the top of the Police Forces around the Country.

It is time some of these fat cat Senior Officers got the boot and they should not be permitted to drift on until they receive their pension.

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Death of Ian Tomlinson – Cover up or incompetence?

Now that the findings of the Second Post Mortem have come to light, which indicate that Ian Tomlinson died due to internal bleeding, in contrast to the initial post mortem which pointed to a heart attack, it is apposite to question the actions of the authorities.

After Mr. Tomlinson died, on the 1st April in the City of London, the police immediately declared he had died from a suspected heart attack.

Initially, the City of London police were left to conduct their own inquiry, despite witnesses coming forward to say they had seen Tomlinson being in contact with police. A fact the police denied.

Ian Tomlinson just after being pushed over by a police officer

Ian Tomlinson just after being pushed over by a police officer

On 4th April the Mail carried this picture of Mr. Tomlinson. This picture was taken moments after Mr. Tomlinson was pushed over by the police officer, who was subsequently suspended. Although the accompanying report makes no mention of the push by the Police Officer, it is not improbable to suppose that this photograph was looked at by the Police who confirmed this was in-fact Mr. Tomlinson and it should have prompted one of those police officers in the photograph to recall that just a moment earlier this man had been pushed to the ground. But the police continued to deny any knowledge of this fact.

If you look at the video again of the push on Mr. Tomlinson, you can see a photographer taking a still image of Mr. Tomlinson on the ground.

I wonder if he stepped forward to provide evidence. The people, who helped Mr. Tomlinson up off the ground, would possibly have come forward to say that Mr. Tomlinson had been pushed. I find it very difficult to believe that the police officers, who were close by the scene of Mr. Tomlinson’s push, would not have been aware that this was the man who died a few minutes later, but it appears that they ‘forgot’.

It was not until 6th April when the  video was released which showed Mr. Tomlinson being pushed to the ground that suddenly memories were jogged and police officers suddenly remembered from video they were around, having failed to remember from still photographs or claims made by witnesses.

The IPCC failed completely in their initial approach to this case leaving the handling of the investigation with the City of London Police, despite calls for an independent enquiry.

The first post mortem was carried out by Home Office Pathologist Dr Freddy Patel and the results of the post-mortem announced that the death of Mr. Tomlinson was due to a heart attack; despite finding Mr Tomlinson had a substantial amount of blood in the abdominal cavity.

But the post mortem declared exactly as the police told everyone just three hours after his death that it was all due to a heart attack.

It was a little unusual that Dr. Patel was asked to conduct the post mortem as more typically the Forensic Pathology Services, a body of nine independent forensic pathologists, usually deals with suspicious deaths in London and the home-counties.

Dr. Patel it transpires has a slight blemish on his record, having previously been reprimanded by the GMC after he released medical details about a man who died controversially in police custody.

The case would have been left here, with the police denying any previous contact between Mr. Tomlinson and the Police and a comfortable post mortem result were it not for the video taken, ironically by an American Fund Manager.

There are still witnesses claiming Mr. Tomlinson was attacked by the Police on more than one occasion, though of course the police are denying this, without caarrying out any investigation, in the same manner that they denied ever being in contact with him at all.

After the release of the video, the family of Mr. Tomlinson and the IPCC secured a second post mortem, this time carried out by Dr Nat Cary, who concluded Mr. Tomlinson that the cause of death was abdominal haemorrhage. He accepts the findings of Dr. Patel that there is evidence of coronary atherosclerosis but states that in his opinion its nature and extent is unlikely to have contributed to the cause of death.

The additional worry is that the IPCC covered up the results of this second post mortem for a week, while the IPCC continued its investigations, although the family were aware of the findings.

As a result of the findings of the second post mortem a Metropolitan police officer has been interviewed under caution for the offence of manslaughter.

There can be no doubt that the Police knew that Mr. Tomlinson was pushed over by a police officer, though they continued to deny this right up to the point of a video being produced, this can not be acceptable. The Police decided 3 hours after the death of a man that they would announce he had died of a suspected heart attack and proceeded to appoint a pathologist outside of the normal procedure.

The IPCC refused to take the complaint seriously, despite people stepping forward as witnesses to the pushing over of Mr. Tomlinson, until a video was produced, this can not be acceptable. The police are still denying that Mr. Tomlinson was attacked on more than one occasion, refusing to investigate the allegations, this can not be acceptable.

The Police officers who stood by and watched this attack and refused to come forward until the video was released, despite the publication of a photograph on 4th April clearly identifying the man and police officers nearby, just moments after a police officer pushed him over and while the police were still denying the assault ever took place have not been publicly named and reprimanded and this is not acceptable. They were witnesses to an assault and assisted the police force in covering up the assault.

Regardless of deaths, videos or photographs, the fact that police officers can stand by and watch a colleague assault a member of the public without stepping forward is unacceptable.

This was not the only police assault on the day, but unfortunately, only those with video evidence are being investigated. This is a disgrace and leads to further undermining of the trust some people have in the police force. For those who already have no trust, these incidences further underline their mistrust.

The New York Times blog reports today ‘…“saw a bunch of protesters trying to stop a guy in black throwing bottles at the police, the protesters had an argument him and then accused him of being a policeman, whereupon he ran to the police cordon, showed some I.D. and was let through!”…’

While currently the British public in general may become agitated they do not take more forceful action: The lack of trust in the Police, lack of trust in the Political process and lack of trust in the Judiciary having freedom from Political interference, in tandem with a general feeling of antagonism towards institutional services, can only be force that pent up frustration to boiling point at some stage.

The Metropolitan police have an abysmal record in murdering people on the streets of London and it is time they were completely overhauled.

This is either a cover up or incompetence, either way the Met as it stands is not fit for purpose.

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Saving up for retirement, try the new ‘Cock-up’ Pension Plan

The Government are keen to ensure everyone has a pension pot to draw down from once they reach retirement and the aim is to drive people to save towards those pensions. New pension legislation will require employers to opt people into pension schemes, though these plans are under some criticism as smaller employers will be required to spend an inordinate amount of time in pension scheme administration.

With the recent collapse in equity markets, many people have found their pension pot slashed by 30% leading many to question the stability of private pensions.

There is a much easier way to ensure a decent pension. It does require dedication and hard work, but like all good pension schemes, will enable you to retire earlier than you may have anticipated and you may even find yourself receiving a larger than expected pension, when it comes to draw down.

For some reason the Government and pension brokers are not pushing the new ‘Cock-up’ pension plan.

The scheme requires you do achieve a level of authority in an organisation. A level senior enough that when you wish to draw your pension, you are able to make such a significant cock-up, that your suggestion of retirement is a welcome relief to those around you.

According to the National Statistics Office

The average employee in private sector defined benefit occupational pension schemes contributed 4.9 per cent of salary to their pension in 2007, compared with 2.7 per cent for employees in defined contribution schemes.

In 2007, the average employer contribution rate for private sector defined benefit schemes was 15.6 per cent of salary, compared with 6.5 per cent for defined contribution schemes.

If instead of investing at the full rate of 15.6%, to achieve the ‘cock-up’ pension you are advised to invest part of this money in ongoing education, you will then be better be placed to achieve higher office in your organisation and the higher the post held, the better the payout.

How does the ‘cock-up’ pension work?

Fred Goodwin

Fred Goodwin

Let us take as an example. Sir Fred Goodwin, the former head of RBS.

Had he tried to purchase his pension on the open market at the age of 50, with index linking and widows benefit it would have required a pension pot of £30 000 000.

His salary including bonuses was £4.2 million a year.

Using the average yardsticks this would have amounted to an employee and employer contribution of about £900 000 in the year. To build up this pot would have taken just over 30 years to amass (excluding investment growth), assuming average earnings over that time of £4.2 million a year.

Lets try another example.

Bob Quick

Bob Quick

Bob Quick, former Assistant Commissioner, who recently retired after wandering around with security documents on full view. He has been pushing his luck for a little while, well actually since he achieved 30 years service in the Police Force.

He was forced to make 3 public apologies in three months. Initially accusing the Conservative party of a smear campaign and following up with his exposure of secret documents.

Mr. Quick joined the Police force in 1978 and was forced to retire 31 years later at the age of 49 with a guaranteed pension of £114,000 a year, or a £520,000 lump sum and £85,000 a year.

Rules on police pensions, to which officers contribute 11 per cent of salary, provide payouts of two-thirds of final salary for those who have served 30 years.

Apart from salary increases Mr. Quick had little more benefit to gain from his pension. At the age of 49, he is comfortably set up with his pension and at the age of 49, has plenty of time to pursue a new career.

Had either of these characters not achieved high profile offices, then the likely effect of their actions would have been instant dismissal and although pension entitlements would have still been earned.

In the case of Mr. Goodwin, there is little doubt his final pension would have been considerably lower and in the case of Mr. Quick being fired from the police service, is not a good reference to start out on a new career.

I really think the Government and pension brokers need to push the ‘Cock-up’ pension plan more robustly as the substantial benefits to be gained using this method of pension provision would have tremendous benefits in reducing the reliance many of our current pensioners and future pensioners have on state support.

Further emphasis on ongoing training, which sits well with the Government mantra of higher education for all, reduced state funding of pensioners and happier pensioners who can afford to retire in their late 40’s and early 50’s, must be a win-win.

Oh dear, just one problem with the plan. It is the taxpayer who has to support these ‘Cock-up’ pension plans. Never mind as a pensioner you will be laughing your way to the bank (what is left of them).

On behalf of tax-payers, back to the drawing board.

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Ban protest in the UK and support mainstream Media

Maximum force

Maximum force

Policing of demonstrations in the UK has once again been called in to question. The Police forces involve approach demonstrations as though every protester is a subversive out to destroy the State and cause the maximum amount of damage.

Some of the mainstream media unfortunately follow this hype, making much of isolated incidents of scuffles to raise the sentiment against protestors.

Within days of the police assault and subsequent death of Ian Tomlinson which is being investigated, both the BBC and the Times once again seek to malign protest.

ASEAN protest 2009 - Photo/Sakchai Lalit

ASEAN protest 2009 - Photo/Sakchai Lalit

In Thailand, at the ASEAN summit, a group of protesters were able to gain access to conference venue, which resulted in its cancellation, with those present being evacuated.

The BBC showed what they like to think was dramatic footage of helicopters evacuating some of the 16 leaders present at the summit, failing to mention that the Malaysian Prime Minister, as an example, left later in the day by car.

The BBC correspondent gleefully declared, that Thailand was ‘…a laughing stock..’ having permitted 200 demonstrators force the closure of the conference and drawing a derisory tone over the colours worn by the various protest groups in Thailand, and scoffing at how the International airport in Thailand had been recently closed due to another protest group.. Asking us to imagine how it would have been had the recent G20 summit been cancelled under similar circumstances and more specifically claiming that the Police in Thailand were weak in not quelling the protest and indicating that the British Policing of the recent G20 in London was far more appropriate.

Ian Tomlinson - REUTERS/Andrew Winning

Ian Tomlinson - REUTERS/Andrew Winning

I guess the rose tinted glasses of BBC reporters are not too much of a surprise, but the crassness of the statement that British Policing, is a standard any country should wish to aspire on the very day a March was held in London in remembrance of Ian Tomlinson’s death, was astounding.

The fact that Thailand is undergoing extreme political upheaval and that over 2 000 protesters were at the conference centre, appears to have flown over the head of this reporter.

Sri Lanka protest London 2009

Sri Lanka protest London 2009

The Sunday Times today have managed to run a story about another demonstration in London in which 100 000 people gathered to protest against the Sri Lankan government failing to declare a ceasefire in their fight against the Tamil Tigers. A very short report, which talked very little about the political or social situation in Sri Lanka, managed to round off the piece with a condemning tone: ‘Police made three arrests’, creating the impression once again that protests only lead to trouble and what the protest is actually about becomes a non-story.

To the mainstream media who are instilling the perception that some have, that protests are nothing more than a gathering of the violent, I would suggest they are falling out of step with public opinion, in the same way that they condemn politicians of being out of tune.

I further ask where would we be as a Society without demonstration?

The Tolpuddle Martyrs of 1834, who were sentenced to seven years in penal colony in Australia. The subsequent protests led to their sentences being repealed and the legacy is modern trades unionism, with the NUJ being one with which these nay sayers may have some knowledge.

History has shown repeatedly Society and protestors resort to greater levels of violence when their voice remains unheard.

The Suffragettes were extremely violent.

Annie Kenney (1879–1953), British suffragette.
Image via Wikipedia

In 1905 Christabel Pankhurst and Annie Kenney interrupted a political meeting in Manchester to ask Winston Churchill and Sir Edward Grey if they believed women should have the right to vote, neither man replied. They got out a banner which had on it “Votes for Women” and shouted at the two politicians to answer their questions. They were arrested for causing an obstruction and a technical assault on a police officer. Both women refused to pay a fine deciding to go to prison to highlight the injustice of the system.

The Suffragettes burned down churches as the Church of England was against what they wanted; they vandalised Oxford Street; they chained themselves to Buckingham Palace as the Royal Family were seen to be against women having the right to vote; they sailed up the Thames and shouted abuse through loud hailers at Parliament as it sat; others refused to pay their tax. Politicians were attacked as they went to work, their homes were fire bombed.

When sent to prison many went on hunger strike. The government was concerned some may die and become martyrs. Prison governors were ordered to force feed Suffragettes but this caused a public outcry.

The response by Asquith was to introduce, in 1913 the Prisoners, Temporary Discharge for Health Act, the ‘Cat and Mouse Act’, similar tactics have continually been employed by subsequent Governments, to quell protest. I am sure these NUJ members will recall the 1980’s legacy particularly of Wapping and the miners strike.

The Suffragette movement supported Britain in the war effort and in 1918; the Representation of the People Act was passed by Parliament.

Brixton Riots

Brixton Riots

The police abuse of the Suss Law in the 1980’s led to the violent protests across the UK and as a result the law was repealed after an investigation into the Brixton Riots. Once again controversial legislation in 2007 is causing unrest, along with the abuse of the Terrorism Act 2000 and potential abuse of the Counter-Terrorism Act 2008.

poll tax demonstration

poll tax demonstration

The 70 000 people who attended the Poll Tax demonstration in 1990 successfully forced a change in Government policy.

Since that time, protests have largely been ignored, with the media sitting on the side of the politicians, seeking to portray demonstrators as violent thugs, ignoring the reality of the demonstration.


London Anti-War protest

London Anti-War protest

The anti-war protests ongoing since 2001 have had no effect on British Politicians, while other countries around the world have listened to the people they represent.

British Politicians following the US political lead, not the demands of the British Population.

Perhaps Policing of protesters in Thailand was not good enough for the British Media and they would prefer the UK had an Ian Tomlinson at every demonstration, a Tiananmen Square every time people took to the streets.



To answer the question posed by the BBC reporter, what would Britain have looked like had the protestors at the G20 been policed in a similar manner to the way the Thai police handled the ASEAN protest. The answer is a happier and better place. Not one with a dead body as its legacy.

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Chief Superintendent Ian Johnston explains why the Police can not be trusted

Chief-Superintendent-Ian-JohnstonOn BBC Radio 4 this morning on the Today programme, Chief Superintendent Ian Johnston, was interviewed about the question of declining public confidence in the Police Force.

Whilst brief, the interview gave Johnston, who is the President of the Superintendents’ Association of England and Wales, an opportunity to put defend against the accusation being made, about declining confidence and what, if anything the Police intended to do about it.

He concedes that the proposition is probably correct. He puts an emphasis on the politicisation of the police force. He added that politicians are far too involved in policing, but didn’t attempt to suggest a solution, merely accepting this as a fact of life.

While many people may already feel we live in a Police State, others would say this is untrue. However when we have a Senior Police Officer commenting that the politicisation of the Police Force is a fact of life, there can be little doubt that we are heading towards a Police State, in which the Police Force are directly run by the Government.

In a similar vein the Government are making inroads into control of the Judiciary. Fairly recently Lord Justice Thomas and Mr Justice Lloyd Jones, decided that the release of intelligence information in the case of Binyam Mohamed, would put the public of the United Kingdom at risk. The decision has been clearly acknowledged as being due to political influence.

The conversation then turned towards the public face of the police and in particular the aspect of police behaviour and apologies for mistakes.

Here Johnston showed that the Police really don’t care about their public service, or public perception.

Ian Tomlinson the push

Ian Tomlinson the push

The interview ranged on to the Police never acknowledging their mistakes and apologizing, until it is far too late and the damage has been done. Johnston just couldn’t see this issue.

He insisted: ‘..we have got away from that now and are perhaps better at making an apology when it is apparent something has gone wrong, but it is difficult, particularly when you have the Independent Police Complaint Commission given an enquiry to carry out….’

Firstly we do not hear the Police apologize in a timely manner. Secondly citing the IPCC as a reason not to apologize is fatuous.

There is absolutely no reason that after the video of the assault on Ian Tomlinson was released, that the police could not have apologized, for what appeared, from the evidence currently available that something appears to have gone wrong.

Whether the police officer is found guilty of murder or manslaughter is a seperate issue.

It is without doubt wrong that Mr. Tomlinson was pushed to the ground and the police should be apologizing for that.

Instead we have the police suggesting that Mr. Tomlinson had a pre-existing heart condition.That has nothing to do with what is clearly an assault on a man walking away from police lines.

IPCC

IPCC

If you take a closer look at the IPCC, press releases, it is very clear that the many Police Officers and Police Departments are not fit for purpose. The mistakes are not due to politicisation, they are due to incompetence and in some cases corruption.

While some of these investigations are still ongoing, it is evident that there are a plethora of official complaints made against the police, this list is just for the first 9 days of April and excludes the numerous statements about the investigation into Ian Tomlinson

9 April 2009
Independent investigation into death of Marcus Cottoy
IPCC investigators are checking CCTV, interviewing witnesses, including custody staff, and examining custody records.
IPCC Commissioner Mike Franklin said: “The death of a young man in these kind of circumstances can raise a range of concerns and it is important that Marcus’ family and the local community can feel confident that an independent investigation will take place.

9 April 2009
IPCC discloses findings from investigation into death of Martin McCann
The IPCC’s investigation concluded:
•There is evidence that Mr McCann requested that he be searched in the police vehicle. However, it was still inappropriate for the officer to carry out a strip search of Mr McCann in the rear of a police vehicle. This was a breach of the Police and Criminal Evidence Act 1984 Codes of Practice;
•Although it is accepted the two officers were responding to a dynamic situation when they arrived at Pole Street it was a wrong to have left Mr McCann alone in the rear of the police van even for a short period of time;
•The two officers acted appropriately in dealing with Mr McCann once he became unwell.
As a result of these findings it has been agreed that both officers will receive formal advice in relation to their actions.
“Although the officers breached policies in terms of the search and leaving Mr McCann alone in the van for a brief period, these failings cannot be used to hold them accountable for Mr McCann’s death. Once Mr McCann’s became unwell the officers acted quickly. Unfortunately it was already too late to save him.”

9 April 2009
IPCC to investigate the complaints made by Victor Frederick
Mr Frederick was returning to his home at around 9.30pm on 17 February 2009 when he was confronted with armed police officers. He was arrested under suspicion of possessing materials likely to be used for making explosives and was held in custody for 24 hours.
IPCC Commissioner for Wales Tom Davies said: “I have decided that the issues raised by Mr Frederick through his MP and AM should be fully investigated.
“This investigation will be timely and thorough and will be carried out by the professional standards department at South Wales Police under the direction and control of the IPCC.”
8 April 2009
IPCC to manage investigation about complaints into Cleveland murder investigation
The Independent Police Complaints Commission is managing an investigation into complaints about how Cleveland Police investigated the death of two-year-old Kyle Fisher.
Kyle died on 23 July 2004 and his babysitter Suzanne Holdsworth was charged and then convicted of his murder. In April 2008 the conviction was overturned by the Court of Appeal and a second trial took place in December 2008 which resulted in Ms Holdsworth being acquitted.

7 April 2009
IPCC statement in response to CPS decision re death of Pc Ian Terry

The Independent Police Complaints Commission has noted today’s decision by the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) not to charge Greater Manchester Police or any individual officers with criminal offences in relation to the fatal shooting of Pc Ian Terry.
The Greater Manchester Police officer died during a firearms training exercise on 9 June 2008.
The IPCC submitted its file of evidence to the CPS and Health and Safety Executive (HSE) for consideration in December 2008. A decision from the HSE is awaited.
It would be inappropriate for the IPCC to comment any further at this stage.

7 April 2009
IPCC discloses finding of investigation into death of Amarjit Singh Chaudhri
• The Call Handler, who took the call at 4.00pm on Friday 28 March 2008, did not deal appropriately with the incident. He did not obtain adequate information when categorising the emergency call and his failure to obtain an accurate description of Mr Chaudhri, his precise location, and his medical condition, subsequently affected the outcome of the incident. It influenced the decisions made by the Controller, and indirectly the CCTV operator.
• The Controller did not deal appropriately with the incident on Friday 28 March 2008. His decision to cancel the police response unit based on limited information, exacerbated the outcome of the incident and resulted in a failure to check the location.
Following the investigation, it has been determined that the Call Handler and the Controller who dealt with the first emergency have received a detailed debrief to outline the areas where their individual performance fell short of the standards expected. They were also given a detailed development plan to enhance their skills and will be subject to on-going assessment by their line managers.
03 April 2009
IPCC discloses findings from managed investigation into death of Malcolm Bulman
The possibility exists that either the accident in the cell caused the fatal injury, or that accident exacerbated an existing injury or that he had sustained an injury prior to his arrest, possibly from a fall on the staircase.
It is clear that the head injury was not discovered until Mr Bulman underwent a detailed examination at hospital.
The investigation did find that there were some failings in the general care given to Mr Bulman while he was in custody. In particular Mr Bulman was left in wet trousers and was given a dirty blanket. These were supplementary issues, but ones that have been reported back to South Yorkshire Police and addressed.
Nicholas Long, IPCC Commissioner for Yorkshire and Humberside, said: “Mr Bulman had a history of drink related problems and on this particular day he was taken into custody for his own welfare. The police officer dealing with him had no option other than to take him into custody – there was nowhere else for him to go.
“It continues to be a matter of concern for me that police cells are regarded as a ‘place of safety’ for people who are drunk and incapable, when perhaps some form of medical treatment may be more appropriate. It is unfair for the police service to be left to deal with these kinds of situations. It is however impossible to say whether, even if some form of medical treatment for Mr Bulman’s alcohol problem had been available, it would have spotted any other injury.
Mr Long added: “Once Mr Bulman’s condition deteriorated prompt medical attention was sought, but by that stage it is apparent it was already too late for his life to be saved. We will never know with certainty whether the fatal head injury was caused before he was taken into custody or during his stay in custody.
1 April 2009
IPCC investigation update: PC Clark charged with conspiracy to blackmail
The Independent Police Complaints Commission can confirm that Police Constable Raymond Clark from South Wales Police was arrested by Gwent Police and charged with Conspiracy to Blackmail on 18 February 2009 and released from custody on conditional bail on 19 March by Newport Crown Court.
PC Clark has been suspended from duty by South Wales Police.
The IPCC is managing the misconduct investigation being conducted by the professional standards department at South Wales Police. This will also look at the reasons why confirmation of the identification of PC Clark as a serving police officer in South Wales was not confirmed at an earlier stage in the inquiry.
Gwent Police are conducting an on-going criminal investigation and the IPCC will not at this stage issue further information because of the possibility of prejudicing that investigation and the live criminal proceedings against PC Clark.

The police on the beat - photo Max Nash

The police on the beat - photo Max Nash

The police have also taken a strange attitude to implementing laws, twisting them to their own satisfaction.
Section 5 of the Public Order Act is often used as a reason to arrest someone, with the statement that it is an offence under section 5 to swear in a public place, but many of these arrests are quite simply lazy policing.
The Public Order Act 1986, Section 5 states:

(1) A person is guilty of an offence if he:

(a) uses threatening, abusive or insulting words or behaviour, or disorderly behaviour, or
(b) displays any writing, sign or other visible representation which is threatening, abusive or insulting,

within the hearing or sight of a person likely to be caused harassment, alarm or distress thereby.

This offence has the following statutory defences:

(1) The defendant had no reason to believe that there was any person within hearing or sight who was likely to be alarmed or distressed by his action.
(2) The defendant was in a dwelling and had no reason to believe that his behaviour would be seen or heard by any person outside any dwelling.
(3) The conduct was reasonable.
.

The Counter-Terrorism Act 2008 (Commencement No. 2) Order 2009

The Counter-Terrorism Act 2008 (Commencement No. 2) Order 2009

We now have the police are being now heard to claim that under section 76 of the Counter Terrorism Act 2008, which came in to force on 19th February 2009, it is an offence to photograph a police officer.
This is absolutely un-true there is no blanket ban on taking photographs of police officers.

The Counter-Terrorism Act 2008 introduced some changes in the law relating to the eliciting, publishing or communicating information of a kind likely to be useful to a person committing or preparing an act of terrorism.

Section 76 of the 2008 Act makes “Eliciting, publishing or communicating information about members of armed forces etc” an offence. The section is effectively an amendment to s 58 of the Terrorism Act 2000.

Under the newly introduced s 58A to the 2000 Act, a person commits an offence who—
(a) elicits or attempts to elicit information about an individual who is or has been—
(i) a member of Her Majesty’s forces,
(ii) a member of any of the intelligence services, or
(iii) a constable

which is of a kind likely to be useful to a person committing or preparing an act of terrorism,
or
(b) publishes or communicates any such information.

Under s58A (2) “it is a defence for a person charged with an offence under this section to prove that they had a reasonable excuse for their action.”

To establish this defence [under s58A], the defendant needs only to claim to have a reasonable excuse and it is then for the prosecution to prove, beyond reasonable doubt, that there was no such excuse. Further, the DPP must authorise prosecutions under Section 58A. Its decision will take account of the possibility of the person having a reasonable excuse for his or her actions. Therefore, safeguards are in place. It is clear that this is not information that people would normally have, but that, by putting it around, they would put someone at risk.

Tony McNulty confirmed this approach in answer to a Parliamentary Question, when he indicated that:

Police officers have the discretion to ask people not to take photographs for public safety or security reasons but the taking of photographs in a public place is not subject to any rules or statute.

The Joint Committee on Human Rights Report:
In March 2009, the Joint Committee on Human Rights issued a report entitled Demonstrating respect for rights? A human rights approach to policing protest.

The report played down the legal concerns involved, but warned of a potential“chilling effect” on journalists and protestors and suggested that guidance should be issued to the police about the scope of the offence. The report commented on the issue of photographing the police in the following terms:

Concerns have recently been expressed in the media that a new provision in the Counter Terrorism Act 2008 makes it a criminal offence to take and publish a photograph of a police officer. Section 76 of the 2008 Act makes it an offence to elicit or attempt to elicit information about an individual who is or has been a constable “which is of a kind likely to be useful to a person committing or preparing an act of terrorism.”

As the Explanatory Notes to the Counter Terrorism Bill correctly stated, the new offence will only be committed where the information in question is “such as to raise a reasonable suspicion that it was intended to be used to assist in the preparation or commission of an act of terrorism, and must be of a kind that was likely to provide practical assistant to a person committing or preparing an act of terrorism.” That is the effect of a decision of the Court of Appeal in a case in 2008 interpreting the same statutory language in the separate terrorism offence of possessing a document or record containing information of a kind likely to be useful to a person committing or preparing an act of terror.

We therefore do not share the concerns expressed in the media that the new offence criminalises taking photographs of the police. However, we do regard as significant the fact that this is being widely reported as a matter of concern to journalists.

Legal uncertainty about the reach of criminal offences can have a chilling effect on the activities of journalists and protestors. We therefore recommend that, to eliminate any scope for doubt about the scope of the new offence in section76 of the Counter Terrorism Act 2008, guidance be issued to the police about the scope of the offence in light of the decision of the Court of Appeal, and specifically addressing concerns about its improper use to prevent photographing or filming police.

The NUJ wrote to the Home Secretary expressing concern at police surveillance of journalists and subsequently had a meeting with the Minister, Vernon Coaker MP.

Following the meeting, the ACPO/media guidelines were revised and the Minister wrote to the NUJ stating:

We have addressed this directly in the revised guidance making it clear that the Terrorism Act 2000 does not prohibit people from taking photographs or digital images. The guidance also makes it clear that film and memory cards may be seized as part of a search but officers do not have a legal power to delete images or destroy film.

If Johnston believes the Police are being politicised, then the police need to stand up and be counted. Similarly they need to stop using laws incorrectly and ensure the police officers employed are not only trained, but suited for the role.

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