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27th September   

Update: Out of Control...

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Home secretary rescinds control orders rather than revealing the case against those under house arrest
Link Here  full story: Control Orders...Failing the most basic human rights with Control Orders

Old Bailey Alan Johnson, the Home Secretary, has allowed a second terror suspect to be released from virtual house arrest rather than disclose secret evidence against him.

The move is a further blow to the control order regime under which restrictions can be placed on the movements of people suspected of involvement in terrorism.

The suspect, known only as AE, is an Iraqi Kurd who was given the right to settle in the country and was an imam in northern England. He was accused of supporting the jihadist insurgency in Iraq on the basis of secret evidence from the security services.

A Home Office spokesman said that in June the Law Lords ruled that individuals subject to control orders must be given sufficient disclosure about the case against them to enable them to give effective instructions to their legal representatives. The spokesman added: Where this disclosure cannot be made for the protection of the public interest, including our national security, we may be forced to revoke control orders even where we consider those orders to be necessary to protect the public from a risk of terrorism. In such circumstances we will take all steps necessary to protect the public. The police and Security Service seek to investigate and monitor the activities of those believed to pose a threat to national security.

Earlier this month Johnson insisted the control order regime remained viable despite the law lords' ruling. He has already been forced to revoke a control order against a British-Libyan man known as AF, as a direct result of the judgement.

 

19th September   

Potentially Dangerous People...

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UK police dream up new label to justify targeting people with no criminal record
Link Here

Northumbria police logo People without criminal convictions could be subject to covert surveillance, under new police tactics revealed.

Durham Police has begun applying methods used to contain people found guilty of violent or sexual crimes to individuals not convicted of such offences.

The 'Potentially Dangerous People' (PDP) initiative is thought to be the first of its kind in the country and police chiefs are aware going public will raise concerns over human rights.

But Ian Scott, head of Durham CID, said: Anything we do has got to be proportionate and legal. This is about preventing offending. Scott said the policy affected people in “present likelihood” of serious sexual or violent offending, such as rape, indecency towards children or wounding with intent.

Mike Creedon, assistant director of County Durham Probation Service, spewed old clichés about 'balance': You've got to balance the human rights of the offender and the human rights of the potential victim in the community. We're talking about people who constitute a very real threat to life or limb.

People can be declared PDPs following a referral to the Public Protection Unit and a multi-agency meeting to discuss the case. A PDP could be watched or contacted by police about their behaviour.

Comment: Presumed Guilty

See article from guardian.co.uk by Henry Porter

It is all part of the trend under Labour that allows the authorities to undermine the legal concept of innocence and to determine a person's intentions and take action, without reference to a normal court of law and without informing the individual of the nature of accusations against him or her. On Sunday I wrote about a "sleeper" clause in the Domestic Violence, Crime and Victims Act 2004 which works with Jack Straw's Protection from Harassment Act 1997 to allow a restraining order to be made on a person who has been acquitted.

It is of enormous importance that we understand that to allow the policy of Northumbria and Cleveland forces to go unchallenged is to lose an essential right in British life. If the exchange of information on people merely suspected of violent or abusive intentions continues, how long will it before these networks of agencies begin to turn their attention to people suspected of other crimes or simply of behaviour that the state finds inconvenient?

That the police can instigate this policy without the slightest murmur of dissent, without debate in parliament, without local MPs raising the mildest concern, is a very worrying sign indeed.

...Read full article

 

19th September   

Offsite: Gaps in the Family Album...

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Photography: a model of lost liberty
Link Here  full story: Policing of Photographers...Snapshot of a British police state

Britannia pixellated People From nativity plays to football matches we must defend amateur photographers from creeping restrictions

There is no overarching ban on photography, nor is their likely to be. Yet, as a new Manifesto Club report by gallery director Pauline Hadaway outlines, there is growing regulation of citizen photography, with touchy subjects now ranging from policemen to transport facilities, from children's nativity plays to football matches.

This is a model of how liberty is lost today: often not with a blanket draconian law, but through incoherent and creeping restriction at a local level, with rules drawn up by community safety wardens, private security guards and other self-appointed "jobsworths".

Leaving aside the headline-grabbing misuse of counter-terror laws, it is the restrictions on photographing children that perhaps have had the most devastating social impact. A generation of kids is growing up with gaps in the family photo album:

...Read full article

 

8th September   

Update: Questions Remain...

Police music censor scraps music genre question on form 696
Link Here  full story: Licensed Music Censors...Licensing sets up authorities as music censors

Metropiltan Police badge Scotland Yard said today that it was altering a potentially racist form which asks clubs whether they play music popular with the black and Asian communities, after pressure from politicians, musicians and equality campaigners.

Form 696 asks owners to provide the name, address and telephone numbers of artists and promoters, as well as the style of music to be played at forthcoming events.

In particular, the form gives bashment, R&B, garage as options – genres popular with black and Asian people.

Detective Chief Superintendent Richard Martin, the head of the Yard's clubs and vice unit, announced that venues would no longer be asked for details of the music style. A requirement to provide the telephone number of the performing artist will also be dropped and an independent scrutiny panel will be set up to ensure that the form is not misused, Martin said.

Feargal Sharkey, campaigner and former lead singer of the Undertones, described the move as an exercise in semantics and demanded that the form be scrapped altogether. He said it was clear that the altered version continued to target musicians from ethnic minorities and he objected strongly to a question which asks about the make-up of the patrons.

What is the club owner going to say: 'White, middle class Londoners'. I don't think so, Sharkey said: These changes raise more questions than they answer. You have to ask how many violent crimes are linked to live music anyway. Why should the Met get the details of performers 14 days before an event. These changes will do nothing to alleviate the concerns of disenchanted young artists.

 

5th September   

Teachers Taught a Miserable Lesson...

Teachers banned from pubs, swingers clubs and holidaying in Pattaya
Link Here
The Pub

  Sorry, we don't serve teachers!

UK teachers are demanding the right to get drunk at weekends as they protest against a tough new code of conduct.

More than 10,000 have signed a petition calling for the scrapping of rules which require them to uphold public trust in their profession outside school.

The code, drawn up by the General Teaching Council and coming into force next month, aims to reinforce the traditional role of teachers as pillars of society.

It urges teachers to act as role models for pupils inside and outside the classroom by maintaining reasonable standards in their own behaviour.

But teachers have branded the code unnecessary intrusion into their private lives which could lead to staff being pulled up simply for letting their hair down on weekends. They also say the code contains other vague statements that are open to wide interpretation.

Now the NASUWT union has launched a petition attacking the code, which has attracted more than 10,000 signatories over the summer holidays. It has also sent a poster to every state school in England urging staff to campaign for the code to be withdrawn.

A draft version of the code stated that teachers must maintain standards of behaviour both inside and outside school that are appropriate given their membership of an important and responsible profession.

However this was toned down following consultation. It now says staff must maintain reasonable standards in their own behaviour that enable them to...uphold public trust and confidence in the profession. Meanwhile a late addition to the code states that it does not limit a teacher's right to a private life.

 

1st September   

Update: Human Rights Bashment...

Musicians write to Equality Commission over for 69
Link Here  full story: Licensed Music Censors...Licensing sets up authorities as music censors

EHRC logo Musicians, politicians and figures from the entertainment industry have now called on the government's equalities watchdog to intervene in the controversy over the Metropolitan police's Form 696, which they claim is potentially racist. Opponents fear that the Met scheme will be adopted by forces nationwide.

Form 696 asks venues to provide the name, address and contact telephone numbers for artists and promoters. When the layer of red tape was introduced, it also asked for details of which ethnic group was likely to attend the proposed event.

That requirement was dropped last year after widespread criticism, but the form still asks promoters to say what style of music is to be played and gives bashment, R&B, garage as examples – all of which are styles of music popular with black and Asian fans.

To me it is quite remarkable that anyone could have thought this level of intrusion was a good idea, said Feargal Sharkey, the former lead singer of the Undertones and now chief executive of UK Music, who is one of the signatories of a letter to the Equalities and Human Rights Commission (EHRC), asking it to intervene.

The organiser of the appeal to the EHRC, journalist Sunny Hundal, said that although the form was voluntar ", many events had applications for licences turned down after refusing to fill it in.

There is a deep sense of unease among many within the music scene that it is being used to target events by black or Asian organisers. With live events being an integral part of the music scene, this only makes life harder for everyone and denies the people of London a diverse range of entertainment.

The letter, which has more than 50 signatories, states: We are deeply concerned that Form 696 has the potential to be misused by the police to discriminate against ethnic minorities … There is now a danger that police across the country will adopt this measure and further entrench this illiberal and potentially racist practice.

 

28th August   

Update: Striking Back...

Christian Aid survey suggests that Brits find their police heavy handed at peaceful protests
Link Here

Ian Tomlinson suffering fatal injuries at G20 protest British people are put off by heavy handed policing at protests. Half of adults in the UK believe the police are too heavy handed or deploy too many officers at peaceful protests, according to a new poll released by Christian Aid today.

The poll was conducted by YouGov to coincide with the launch of the charity's new campaigning action, the Mass Visual Trespass, which is encouraging people to upload a photograph or short video of themselves holding a climate justice message directed at Prime Minister Gordon Brown.

Of the more than 2,100 surveyed, 93% agreed that everyone in the UK should have the right to peaceful protest while 18% they would think twice about taking part in a protest in the future as a result of the skirmishes between police and protesters during the recent G20 summit in London.

33% of respondents said that the filming of protesters by police made them feel like criminals, that it was an invasion of privacy and another example of a Big Brother society.

Images uploaded for the Mass Visual Trespass are to be projected by Christian Aid onto British landmarks in the run up to the UN climate change summit in Copenhagen in December, allowing people to protest virtually from the comfort of their own homes.

Paul Brannen, head of campaigns at Christian Aid said: It's worrying that recent incidents involving the police at peaceful protests have made members of the public think twice about taking part in future peaceful demonstrations.

 

26th August   

Update: Refining Risk...

Photography and shit policing comes to the attention of the Daily Mail
Link Here  full story: Policing of Photographers...Snapshot of a British police state

Milford Haven station When trainspotter Stephen White noticed some interesting engines, he wasted no time in taking pictures of them for his collection.

It was the start of a bizarre sequence of events involving midnight phone calls, police raids and even, it is claimed, suspected terrorism.

White who was on a camping holiday in Wales with his sister Helen and her two children, was caught on CCTV from a nearby oil refinery as he took the photographs.
Stephen White with his sister Helen and her children Bryn and Jessica

Miss White's car number plate was also noted and police traced it to her home in Lincolnshire, where a neighbour gave them her mobile phone number.

An officer then phoned her in the early hours and demanded she take the photos to a police station despite her innocent explanation. Police swooped on the campsite the next day, and again demanded to take the photos.

But Mr White and his sister say they were so annoyed with the officers for not believing that they were not terrorists and for harassing them that they refused to hand over the snaps. The next day, they say, their car was pulled over by a police officer with his blue lights flashing. Again, he demanded the camera and pictures, but the family stood their ground.

Mr White said: We were treated and hunted as if we were terrorists and a threat to national security, which was ridiculous. This has totally ruined the holiday, just because I'm a bit of a train geek who took pictures of some engines.

'It's just an innocent photo - which you could find on Google Earth anyway. I've put a complaint in to the police already but they still won't let it rest.'

A spokesprat for Dyfed Powys Police confirmed that officers sought an explanation from Mr White regarding his activities following a report of suspicious behaviour at an oil refinery site in West Wales. Following an explanation from him, no further action was taken.

 

23rd August   

Update: Home Office Snaps...

The Home Office has admitted that counter-terrorism laws shouldn't be used against photographers
Link Here  full story: Policing of Photographers...Snapshot of a British police state

Home Offie logo Finally some good news for photographers. This week the Home Office's security and counter-terrorism section sent out new advice to all chief police officers in the UK to clarify counter-terrorism legislation in relation to photography in a public place .

This has been a long time coming for photographers – both amateur and professional alike – who have been targeted by the state as potential terrorists for the act of taking a photograph in a public place. This year has already seen some astonishing abuses of counter-terror powers, including Austrian tourists forced to delete their holiday pictures from their cameras by police officers and a Kent photographer arrested for being too tall.

So is this new government advice going to change anything on the ground? I know I will print it off and use it next time I'm stopped by the police. But I do wonder how many frontline officers will have received and read a copy of the guidance – let alone accept it.

The newly launched I'm a photographer, not a terrorist! campaign welcomed the updated advice but also remains concerned about whether the advice to police officers will filter down to street level.

A letter from David Hanson, the minister responsible for crime and policing, to Jeremy Dear, general secretary of the National Union of Journalists, expresses his belief that the advice will end speculation on section 58A . Hanson believes the circular removes once and for all any suggestion that the new offence can be used to prosecute innocent photographers such as responsible journalists, simply because they are taking a photograph of a police officer.

New advice and liaison with the NUJ are all welcome and good, but – and it's a big but – what takes place on the ground is the real test.

 

19th August   

Judge and Jury...

Magistrates warn that UK police will abuse summary justice powers
Link Here

Magistrates' Association Police cannot be trusted to hand out summary justice and will act as judge and jury if given powers to issue more on-the-spot fines, magistrates have warned.

In an extraordinary attack, the Magistrates' Association said it is a certainty that officers will misuse powers because they cannot be relied on to handle them appropriately.

The comments have been made as part of the Magistrates' Association response to the Government's plans to allow police to issue £60 fixed penalties for careless driving.

Police have been accused of increasingly dealing with offences using on-the-spot fines as an easy way to hit the government's crime targets. Magistrates are worried that the number of offences now dealt with in this way is keeping some serious offenders out of the courts.

Paul Holmes, a Liberal Democrat home affairs spokesman, said: It is a sorry state of affairs when the Government's push for instant justice is driving a wedge between different parts of our criminal justice system. The police have been given wide-ranging powers without adequate debate. It is deeply concerning that even judges think they will abuse them.

The Government's proposals would make careless driving a fixed penalty offence, meaning those guilty being handed an on-the-spot fine and given three points on their licence. Currently, those suspected of careless driving are prosecuted in the courts where they can face a fine of up to £5,000 and up to nine points on their licence.

Chris Hunt Cooke, chairman of the Magistrates' Association road traffic committee warned against this. In his response, he said: Regrettably, recent experience with out-of-court disposals shows that the police cannot be relied on to use them appropriately or as intended. Once they have been given these powers, the police will misuse them, that is a certainty, and careless driving will be generally treated as a minor offence, unless serious injury is involved. This is a proposal that places the convenience of the police above what is right in principle, may coerce innocent drivers into accepting a fixed penalty, and is certain generally to downgrade careless driving in terms of offence seriousness.

 

18th August   

Offsite: Pub Banned?...

How killjoys colonised Britain's public houses
Link Here  full story: Drinking Restrictions...Drinking becomes the target of killjoy politicians

Pub with no customers The smoking ban, on top of strict licensing laws and CCTV, has turned pubs from places of choice and tolerance into outlets for official meddling.

Two years into the English smoking ban, pubs are closing at a rate of 40 a week. The New Labour government and much of the media still claim to see no connection between the two, instead blaming economics and competition from supermarkets. But pubs have thrived in previous recessions, and supermarkets have always sold cheaper booze. People used to go to pubs for the social atmosphere. Some of us still would, if that atmosphere wasn't fast disappearing.

...Read full article

 

17th August   

An Englishman's Home is His Council's Castle...

Local councils aggressively seize people's own homes
Link Here

RPTS logoi Councils are grabbing houses from the elderly, sick and vulnerable by routinely abusing powers that let them seize empty properties.

One home a week is being taken over by local authorities under the powers granted by John Prescott.

They allow councils to take possession of properties that have been empty for more than six months. But a dossier compiled by the Tories shows that some councils have used the powers in an aggressive and intimidating manner.

Documents show that councils have sought to seize homes from the old and the recently deceased and in one case from a woman who was absent caring for her sick daughter in France. Others have moved to take homes from elderly residents who did not understand the intricacies of the rules surrounding Empty Dwelling Management Orders. In one case, in Lewisham, South-East London, a couple inherited a property and wished to house their son there, only to find the council trying to seize it.

Tribunal papers revealed the council's attitude had been aggressive and overzealous.

Tory local government spokesman Caroline Spelman said: I am deeply concerned that the vulnerable and the old are being targeted by aggressive town halls. For all of Labour's talk about human rights, ministers have utter disregard for the fundamental right to own property and to be protected from state intrusion into your home.

A Communities and Local Government spokesman said councils were only meant to step in when a home owner has been unwilling to co-operate . If a seizure is approved by a Residential Property Tribunal the home can be let to council tenants and the rent is passed to the owner after the council has covered its costs.

 

15th August   

I'm a Photographer Not a Terrorist...

Launch of new campaign website
Link Here

I'm a photographer not a terrorist From the website:

Photography is under attack. Across the country it that seems anyone with a camera is being targeted as a potential terrorist, whether amateur or professional, whether landscape, architectural or street photographer.

Not only is it corrosive of press freedom but creation of the collective visual history of our country is extinguished by anti-terrorist legislation designed to protect the heritage it prevents us recording.

This campaign is for everyone who values visual imagery, not only photographers.

We must work together now to stop this before photography becomes a part of history rather than a way of recording it.

 

11th August   

Sharia Towers...

Alton Towers asks swimmers to cover up
Link Here

Swimming briefs Small swimwear is out, says Alton Towers water park in a barely concealed grope for August publicity

Rachael Lockitt, the park's PR manager, rejected any suggestion that the Speedo story was dreamt up to generate a little August publicity. However, the venue got good press mileage in May when it announced a similar "ban" on children wearing high heels to cheat the height requirements on its rides.

It insists the trunks-only rule is an extreme measure … to prevent embarrassment among fellow members of the public and to maintain the family-friendly atmosphere at the resort.

Morwenna Angove, sales and marketing director for Alton Towers, said: We feel this small brief style is not appropriate for a family venue so we are advising male bathers to wear more protective swimwear such as shorts.

Alton Towers said not only men were involved – some women bathers had turned up wearing thongs.

 

11th August   

Offsite: Greek Tragedy of Justice...

EU extradition treaty means British law no longer protects us
Link Here  full story: European Arrest Warrants...Arrested in Britain for non-crimes

Greece flag Andrew Symeou was deported to Greece, where he was not allowed bail because he is not domiciled there. He could be held in prison for up to 18 months before trial, although this week his Greek lawyer hopes to win a further plea for bail.

In 2001, when EU leaders gathered in Laeken, Belgium, to plan their next great leap forward to European integration – the ill-fated EU constitution – they also agreed on what they saw as another bold symbol of their wish to see Europe politically and legally united: the European Arrest Warrant. Fired by the recent 9/11 outrage, they agreed that the courts of any country could call on those of another to order the automatic extradition of anyone suspected of offences under 32 headings, with such crimes as terrorism, drug-running and "xenophobia" high on their list.

Even then, fears were expressed that such a summary shortcutting of normal legal procedures might lead to serious injustices. Not all of the EU's judicial systems (to put it mildly) rest on the same ideas of justice. But even those most worried about the dangers of this system could scarcely have imagined a case like that involving the extradition to Greece of a 20-year old British student, Andrew Symeou.

...Read full article

 

29th July   

Reporting Blocked by Police...

Journalists challenge the police over their photography ban
Link Here  full story: Policing of Photographers...Snapshot of a British police state

Photographer blocked at protest Do we need a free press? Judging by their recent actions, police officers don't seem to think so. Professional journalists and photographers have detailed numerous attempts by police officers to stifle the reporting of protests. Today their fightback moves up a pace, as the commissioner of the Metropolitan police is served papers demanding acceptance of liability, the payment of damages, and an apology, following the alleged assault and unlawful obstruction of two journalists going about their work.

Investigative photojournalist Marc Vallée and videographer Jason Parkinson, were covering protests – prompted by the shooting of a teenage demonstrator in Athens by Greek police – outside the Greek Embassy in London. In video recorded by Parkinson, an armed officer from the Metropolitan police's diplomatic protection group is shown pulling Vallée's camera away from his face. The officer goes on to cover the lens of Parkinson's video camera with his hand, stating you cannot film me.

The pair were not interrupting police activity and in fact they had not had any contact with the police prior to being confronted. When they are instructed move away, they comply but in a later incident, they are forcibly removed from the area, and ordered to report from a distance which, they claim, made accurate recording of events impossible.

 

27th July   

Bouncer Justice...

Bouncers become third tier police with powers to issue fines
Link Here
Nazi soldiers

 An army of security guards and park wardens

Private security companies that employ nightclub bouncers are being licensed to issue on-the-spot fines under a huge extension of police-style powers to 'accredited' civilians.

There are now more than 1,400 people enrolled across England and Wales to issue fines for offences from dog fouling to public disorder.

A private security company in Norfolk is the latest group to be accredited to issue instant fines. The company, Norwich-based EventGuard, has won accreditation for the first 25 of its employees to help police with antisocial behaviour and to issue fixed penalties. The company manages crowds and traffic at  events such as the Royal Norfolk Show but also carries out 'door supervision'.

It is licensed to direct traffic on the highway; control antisocial behaviour including harassment; prevent drinking in certain places and issue fixed penalty notices for offences including graffiti, flyposting, dog fouling, littering and public disorder.

EventGuard is understood to have spent about £10,000 on the accreditation including uniforms of yellow jackets and T-shirts emblazoned with a logo indicating they are authorised by the police to issue the tickets.

The powers are granted by chief constables under the Police Reform Act 2001 to organisations that contribute towards community safety. They must undergo extensive vetting and training and wear a badge and uniform approved by the chief constable.

Security guards and others accredited, such as park wardens, parking attendants and shopping centre guards, have access to the Police National Computer and must use it before issuing an on-the-spot fine. Where the offender has a criminal record, a ticket should not be issued but the police called and the offender dealt with through the courts system.

Magistrates are not impressed, they are lodging a protest with Jack Straw, the Injustice Secretary, amid concerns that guards will have a gung-ho approach to issuing fines.

John Howson, deputy chairman of the 30,000 Magistrates' Association in England and Wales, said there were already numerous examples of such tickets being issued inappropriately. Our concern is that here we have essentially a 'third-tier' police force that is now including security guards and door supervisors. These people need to check the Police National Computer to see if the person has a criminal record. We don't think it appropriate for these people to have that access.

 

23rd July   

Olympic Sport of Gagging...

UK government gold medal contenders
Link Here

China flag Police have been handed 'Chinese-style' powers to enter private homes and seize political posters during the London 2012 Olympics.

Little-noticed measures passed by the Government will allow officers and Olympics officials to enter homes and shops near official venues to confiscate any protest material.

Breaking the rules could land offenders with a fine of up to £20,000.

Civil liberties groups compared the powers to those used by the Communist Chinese government to stop political protest during the 2008 Beijing Games.

Anita Coles, of Liberty, said: Powers of entry should be for fighting crime, not policing poster displays. Didn't we learn last time that the Olympics should not be about stifling free expression?

The powers were introduced by the Olympics Act of 2006, passed by the Department for Culture, Media and Sport, supposedly to preserve the monopoly of official advertisers on the London 2012 site. They would allow advertising posters or hoardings placed in shop or home to be removed. But the law has been drawn so widely that it also includes non-commercial material - which could extend its reach to include legitimate campaign literature.

Shadow Home Secretary Chris Grayling said: This is a Government who just doesn't understand civil liberties. They may claim these powers won't be used but the frank truth is no one will believe them.

Liberal Democrat spokesman Chris Huhne said: This sort of police action runs the risk of using a sledgehammer to crack a nut. 'We should aim to show the Chinese that you can run a successful Olympics without cracking down on protestors and free speech.

 

19th July   

Update: Playing a Fascist Tune...

UK government insist on vetting the bands at your local pub
Link Here  full story: Licensed Music Censors...Licensing sets up authorities as music censors

DCMS logo Live music is fast disappearing from pubs, clubs, wine bars, restaurants and other small venues, musicians claim, because of a law passed in 2003.

Hopes were raised recently when the Commons Select Committee on Culture, Media and Sport ended a lengthy investigation into the 2003 Licensing Act by recommending that venues with a capacity of fewer than 200 people should be exempt.

But this week, the Culture Secretary, Ben Bradshaw surely, gave the Government's reply: it does not matter how small a venue is, it can still attract trouble. Bradshaw has agreed to revisit the issue, but not for at least a year, by which time there could be a different government.

If there is a folk singer or rapper in the pub, there has to be a special licence called a Temporary Event Notice (TEN). According to the Musicians' Union, small venues have stopped putting on live music because managements do not want the hassle of filling out lengthy and intrusive forms.

In London, which has perhaps the most vibrant live music scene of all, there is the additional hazard of form 696, compiled by Scotland Yard, which some people suspect is a deliberate device for suppressing the forms of music that black and Asian teenagers enjoy – dubstep, hip hop, ragga, and the rest. The original version of form 696, since amended, asked after the ethnic background of all performers, and for their mobile phone numbers.

Lowkey, a British-Iraqi rapper, added: I've seen it doing the clubs. On a night when they are expecting the white audience, there will be one bouncer on the door. On the next night, when there is a black audience, there will be bouncers everywhere, metal detectors, you have to show your passport and give your address. that kind of thing. They just assume that where there is a lot of brown people, there is going to be violence.

But Bradshaw said that his department has considered exemptions for small venues, but has not been able to reach agreement on exemptions that will deliver an increase in live music whilst still retaining essential protections for local residents. There is no direct link between size of audience or number of performers and potential for noise nuisance or disorder, he claimed.

His decision provoked a furious reaction from musicians. Feargal Sharkey, chief executive of the charity UK Music, and former lead singer of the punk rock group the Undertones, said: After six years of legislation, eight consultations, two government research projects, two national review processes and a parliamentary select committee report, all of which have highlighted the harmful impact these regulations are having on the British music industry, the Government's only reaction is yet another review.

The Met says that the form is simply a tool for protecting the public, including the young people at these gigs, and that, even when there is a high risk of trouble, it is very unlikely that police will close the venue. It happened eight times last year.

But on the Downing Street website there is a petition, organised by the singer Jon McClure, to scrap the unnecessary and draconian usage of the 696 form from London music events. It has attracted 17,405 signatures. Gordon Brown has not yet responded.

 

19th July   

Offsite: 'Evil destruction' of a Happy Family...

UK authorities conspire to steal child from loving parents
Link Here

UK Flag The story began in April 2007 when "Mr Smith", as I must call him, had a visit from the RSPCA over the dog-breeding business he ran from the family home. He had docked the tails of five new-born puppies – a procedure that had become illegal two days beforehand. Unaware of this, he promised in future to obey the new law.

Three days later, however, at nine o'clock in the morning, two RSPCA officials returned, accompanied in cars and riot vans by 18 policemen, who had apparently been tipped off, quite wrongly, that Mr Smith had guns in the house.

Armed with pepper spray, they ransacked the house, looking for the nonexistent guns. The dogs, released from their kennels, also rampaged through the house. When Mr Smith and his wife, who was three months pregnant, volubly protested at what was happening, they were forcibly arrested in front of their screaming five-year-old daughter "Jenny" and taken away. Two hours later, with the house in a shambles – the dogs having strewn the rabbit entrails meant for their dinner across the floor – social workers arrived to remove the crying child.

Held for hours in a police cell, Mrs Smith had a miscarriage. When she was finally set free, she returned home that evening to find her daughter gone. It was the beginning of a barely comprehensible nightmare.

..Read full article

 

18th July   

Stopping Stop and Search...

Hampshire police end stop and search under section 44 of the Terrorism Act
Link Here

Hampshire Police logo Hampshire Police have suspended searches of people under controversial anti-terror laws after figures exposed the futility of the legislation.

The force conducted 3,481 stop and searches under Section 44 of the Terrorism Act in 2007/8 – but arrested no one in connection with terror.

The statistics marked a huge increase on 2004/5, when the force carried out 275 stop and searches under Section 44, and a large jump from 2006/7 when there were 580.

The decision to stop implementing the anti-terror laws was welcomed by civil liberties campaigners.

Last month Lord Carlile, the independent reviewer of terror laws, accused police of making unjustified and almost certainly illegal searches of white people to provide racial balance to Government figures.

Section 44 of the Terrorism Act 2000 gives police the right to stop and search anyone in a defined area without having grounds of 'reasonable suspicion'. Some forces have simply designated their entire area as Section 44 zones, giving them limitless powers to search on demand. The right to use the powers has to be renewed every 28 days.

Hampshire's Assistant Chief Constable, David Pryde, said his force's figures on stop and search had made it think again: We now have suspended Section 44 Stop and Search until such time as the perceived threat is raised to the highest level .

James Welch, of Liberty, said: Hampshire Police's suspension of Terrorism Act stop and search is an extremely welcome step. Normal stop and search powers, triggered by reasonable suspicion, are more than adequate for routine policing and far less likely to alienate law-abiding people.

 

18th July   

Offsite: New Heights of Absurdity...

Kent Police clamp down on tall photographers
Link Here  full story: Policing of Photographers...Snapshot of a British police state

Kent police According to his blog, our over-tall photographer Alex Turner was taking snaps in Chatham High St last Thursday, when he was approached by two unidentified men. They did not identify themselves, but demanded that he show them some ID and warned that if he failed to comply, they would summon police officers to deal with him.

This they did, and a PCSO and WPC quickly joined the fray. Turner took a photo of the pair, and was promptly arrested. It is unclear from his own account precisely what he was being arrested for. However, he does record that the WPC stated she had felt threatened by him when he took her picture, referring to his size - 5' 11" and about 12 stone - and implying that she found it intimidating.

Turner claims he was handcuffed, held in a police van for around 20 minutes, and forced to provide ID before they would release him. He was then searched in public by plain clothes officers who failed to provide any ID before they did so.

This is just the latest in a long line of PR disasters that have dogged police forces over the last 12 months, with tourists, schoolboys and passers-by all subject to arrest for the heinous offence of pursuing their hobby. Each incident is followed by much police hand-wringing, and statements to the effect that these are one-offs: the fault of over-zealous individual officers.

...Read full article

 

11th July   

Update: A Snapshot of Rights...

Metropolitan Police issue guidance about public photography
Link Here  full story: Policing of Photographers...Snapshot of a British police state

Metropiltan Police badge The Metropolitan Police have issued guidance about public photography.

Guidance around the issue has been made clear to officers and PCSOs through briefings and internal communications.

The following advice is available to all officers and provides a summary of the Metropolitan Police Service's guidance around photography in public places.

Members of the public and the media do not need a permit to film or photograph in public places and police have no power to stop them filming or photographing incidents or police personnel.

Photography and Section 44 of the Terrorism Act 2000

The Terrorism Act 2000 does not prohibit people from taking photographs or digital images in an area where an authority under section 44 is in place.

Officers have the power to view digital images contained in mobile telephones or cameras carried by a person searched under S44 of the Terrorism Act 2000, provided that the viewing is to determine whether the images contained in the camera or mobile telephone are of a kind, which could be used in connection with terrorism. Officers also have the power to seize and retain any article found during the search which the officer reasonably suspects is intended to be used in connection with terrorism.

Photography and Section 43 of the Terrorism Act 2000

Officers have the power to view digital images contained in mobile telephones or cameras carried by a person searched under S43 of the Terrorism Act 2000 to discover whether they have in their possession anything which may constitute evidence that they are involved in terrorism. Officers also have the power to seize and retain any article found during the search which the officer reasonably suspects may constitute evidence that the person is involved in terrorism.

Section 58a of the Terrorism Act 2000

Section 58a of the Terrorism Act 2000 covers the offence of eliciting, publishing or communicating information about members of the armed forces, intelligence services or police.

Any officer making an arrest for an offence under Section 58a must be able to demonstrate a reasonable suspicion that the information was of a kind likely to be useful to a person committing or preparing an act of terrorism.

It should ordinarily be considered inappropriate to use Section 58a to arrest people photographing police officers in the course of normal policing activities, including protests, as without more, there is no link to terrorism.

There is however nothing preventing officers asking questions of an individual who appears to be taking photographs of someone who is or has been a member of Her Majesty's Forces (HMF), Intelligence Services or a constable.

Guidelines for MPS staff on dealing with media reporters, press photographers and television crews

Contact with photographers, reporters and television crews is a regular occurrence for many officers and staff. The media influences our reputation so it's crucial to maintain good working relations with its members, even in difficult circumstances.

Following these guidelines means both media and police can fulfil their duties without hindering each other.

Creating vantage points

When areas are cordoned off following an incident, creating a vantage point, if possible, where members of the media at the scene can see police activity, can help them do their job without interfering with a police operation. However, media may still report from areas accessible to the general public.

 

9th July   

O'Connor Calls the Kettlers Black...

G20 policing criticised in interim report
Link Here

Ian Tomlinson Senior Metropolitan police commanders given the task of maintaining order at the G20 rally this spring did not understand their legal duties when they decided to contain thousands of protesters near the Bank of England, according to an analysis of the force's performance released today by the police watchdog.

Denis O'Connor, the chief inspector of constabulary, recommended a national overhaul of the police approach to demonstrations in a report today on the G20 protests, describing the current practice as inadequate and belonging to a different era.

He found Met commanders failed to consider human rights obligations which are relevant to the use of police force.

His 68-page report, Adapting to Protest, presented the interim findings of HMIC's review of public order policing, initiated after the demonstrations in the City of London on 1 April, which resulted in the death of the newspaper vendor Ian Tomlinson and more than 250 complaints to the Independent Police Complaints Commission.

All senior officers should from now on prioritise their obligation to facilitate protest, the report said, even when doing so could result in some level of disruption.

In a series of further recommendations, the report said police should strive to improve communication with protesters and the media and consider making officers wear badge numbers, which they are not statutorily obliged to do.

Consideration should be given to the impact of techniques adopted by riot officers that could cause serious injury, such as thrusting the sides of shields towards a protester's head, an action seen repeatedly in video footage circulated after the protests. Some tactics used in public order have been medically assessed, O'Connor said: That tactic has not been assessed.

The review stopped short of arguing that officers should abandon the use of kettling, arguing instead that containment methods should be modified to ensure officers on the ground can use greater discretion to allow peaceful protesters and bystanders to leave an area.

What the review identifies is that the world is changing, and the police need to think about changing their approach to policing protest, O'Connor said: We live in an age where public consent of policing cannot be assumed, and policing, including public order policing, should be designed to win the consent of the public.

 

4th July   

Offsite: Awesome Injustice...

Legal challenge to Operation Ore policing
Link Here

Old Bailey One of Britain's biggest online paedophile inquiries is to be challenged in the court of appeal amid allegations from campaigners that hundreds of men have been wrongly convicted in a mass miscarriage of justice.

For more than two years a small group of experts have claimed that Operation Ore, the police inquiry into thousands of British men, was tainted because the database at the centre of the investigation contained evidence of widespread credit card fraud. Their allegations will be tested for the first time in the appeal court within weeks, when a judge examines a test case that could expose a huge miscarriage of justice, lawyers say.

The single judge will decide whether the case should go to a full appeal.

...Read full article

 

4th July   

Offsite: 8 Years Without Trial...

Life with a control order: a wives' story
Link Here  full story: Control Orders...Failing the most basic human rights with Control Orders

Old Bailey Mahmoud Abu Rideh has spent four years behind bars and another four years on a control order. A father of six, he is in a wheelchair and has never seen the evidence against him. Today he goes to the High Court, backed by Amnesty International, in a plea to leave Britain.

Here Dina Al Jnidi, his wife, describes the family's descent into a nightmare

...Read full article

 

1st July   

Offsite: Ban-happy Brighton...

Drinkers the latest target of killjoy campaigners and politicians
Link Here  full story: Drinking Restrictions...Drinking becomes the target of killjoy politicians

Puritans Far from promising a wild weekend, the UK seaside town of Brighton is fast degenerating into a centre of booze-confiscating puritanism.

How has this infamous recreational playground become so ban-happy, so distanced from its unashamed pleasure-seeking history? Where has that heady mix of elegance, taste and debauchery that was the Regency period gone?

...Read full article

Booze bans – the new frontier of joyless regulation

 See article from guardian.co.uk by Henry Porter

The Manifesto Club last week produced a report which showed that 712 local authorities have introduced drink free zones, enabling police officers and the ridiculous community support officers – when are these people going to be made to find proper jobs? – to confiscate alcohol on the mere suspicion that someone is going to break the law. The Manifesto Club, which is by the way becoming one of the significant voices of reason and liberty in Britain, estimates that 20,000 bottles or cans will be confiscated in July and August this year. Brighton has enforced bans on people carrying unopened bottles of wine and beer which they plan to drink at home, Lambeth Council plans to make the entire borough the subject of a designated public place order (DPPO), while Camden has a borough wide ban except for Regents Park, Primrose Hill and Hampstead Heath.

...Read full article