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   2010: Oct-Dec

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28th December   

Update: Shite Britain...

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Scottish proposal to use barcodes and CCTV to individually track all alcohol purchases
Link Here  full story: Drinking Restrictions...Drinking becomes the target of killjoy politicians
cctv masked man

  Customers adopting standard privacy
protection to buy a bottle of beer

Bottles of alcohol should be tagged so adults buying drink for under-18s can be traced by police, a Labour MSP has said. Under the scheme, bottles would bear a printed barcode enabling authorities to track whether legally bought alcohol has been given to youngsters.

The scheme, which is already being piloted in areas of Dundee, involves the police seizing alcohol from under-18s and then using the coded bottle labels to trace where the drink was bought from.

Officers then use CCTV from the shop to identify who bought the drink - whether it was an adult or an under-age customer being illegally sold it. Customers are even easier to trace if they use store cards.

Labour's Orwellian sounding 'community safety' spokesman James Kelly wants to roll out the scheme to other parts of the country and says the Scottish Government should encourage licensing boards to sign up to the initiative.

Although the scheme aims to catch shops selling alcohol to under-age customers, it is also used to target proxy purchases - adults buying drink on behalf of minors.

Those caught supplying alcohol to those under the age of 18 would be reported to the procurator-fiscal and could be hit with a fine of up to £5,000 or a prison sentence.

The scheme is understood to cost less than £100 per shop to run and authoritarians claim it would reduce alcohol-fuelled antisocial behaviour in areas with under-age drinking problems.

 

26th December   

Young Wives Tales...

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British court finds that young adults ARE entitled to the human right to a family life
Link Here

Old Bailey A British court of appeal rules that the home secretary's ban on non-European under-21 spouses entering the UK is impossible to justify

Two couples made successful appeals against the ban on young spouses entering the UK. Both couples had married abroad, with one half of each pair returning to the UK alone. They were unable to be reunited in the UK because of the home secretary's ban on non-European under-21s wanting to live with their British partners in this country.

The law was brought in two years ago as a measure against forced marriages.

Allowing the appeals, Lord Justice Sedley said: I have reached the conclusion that the arbitrary and disruptive impact of the rule on the lives of a large number of innocent young people makes it impossible to justify, at least where one spouse is a UK citizen, notwithstanding its proper objective.

A spokeswoman for the Home Office said it would appeal.

 

14th December   

Offsite: Inside the Parliament Square Kettle...

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Violent policing of student demonstrations
Link Here

student fees protests There is blood on my face, but not all of it is mine. I'm writing this from the UCL occupation, where injured students and schoolchildren keep drifting in in ones and twos, dazed and bruised, looking for medical attention and a safe space to sit down. It's a little like a field hospital, apart from the people checking Twitter for updates on the demonstration I've just returned from, where 30,000 young people marched to Whitehall, got stopped, and surged through police lines into Parliament Square.

They came to protest against the tuition fees bill that was hauled through the house yesterday by a fractured and divided coalition government. They believe that parliamentary democracy has failed them, that the state has set its face against them. When they arrived at Parliament Square, they found themselves facing a solid wall of metal cages guarded by armed police.

...Read the full article

 

7th December   

Evidence Unheard...

Operation Ore appeal rejected
Link Here

Old Bailey The Court of Appeal has rejected claims that some individuals prosecuted under Operation Ore for incitement to distribute indecent photographs were themselves the victims of credit card fraud.

Operation Ore was a major, long-running investigation by UK police into individuals who appeared on a US-based database – Landslide – that prosecutors claimed was prima facie evidence of their having subscribed to child abuse material.

At issue was the claim by a Anthony O'Shea that his conviction in October 2005 solely on the grounds that his name appeared on that database was unsafe.

In court last month, his lawyers argued that there was significant evidence that many of those who were drawn into the Ore net were only there because their credit card details had been stolen, despite prosecution claims that the only reason that anyone could be on the database was if they had subscribed voluntarily.

In the majority of instances, where police seized computers from individuals in the UK, an amount of child abuse material was found. In a much smaller subset of cases, no images were found: and in some of these, including that of O'Shea, the Crown Prosecution Service took the decision to prosecute on the grounds that the act of subscribing was an incitement to others to distribute imagery.

Clearly, had O'Shea's name been placed on the database as a result of fraud, then his conviction would have been open to question. In the event, the Appeal Court found no evidence of any such fraud and therefore concluded that O'Shea's conviction was safe.

Based on article from  theregister.co.uk

The solicitor who brought the Operation Ore appeal has questioned whether the British courts had the expertise to consider deeply technical cases.

Chris Saltrese, the solicitor who brought the case on behalf of Anthony O'Shea, told us today that in his view, the verdict was not based on the evidence .

Speaking on the dismissal of O'Shea's appeal against his conviction for incitement to distribute an indecent photograph of a child, he told us: This is a disappointing judgment but not unexpected.

The Court of Appeal decided to hear a two week case in two days by not hearing the evidence. As a result, the Court overlooked the key issues in the written submissions. It substituted its own version of the significant evidence. The Court's version did not include the core evidence on which the appeal was based.

We would stress that we remain convinced that Operation Ore in general, and this case in particular, was seriously flawed and a miscarriage of justice.

 

30th November   

Dangerous Tactics...

Police warn parents that student protesting may prove risky
Link Here

Metropiltan Police badge Parents of young people planning to join the latest national demonstration over university fees have been urged to warn them about the potential dangers, mostly from police tactics.

Students are to protest in central London over moves that could result in fees rising to a maximum of £9,000.

On 24 November, 35 people were arrested and the Met said seven police officers were injured when violence broke out during a protest organised in central London.

Student activists criticised the heavy handed brutality of police who denied allegations that mounted officers charged at demonstrators.

Speaking ahead of Tuesday's planned protest, Metropolitan Police Commander Bob Broadhurst said: Schoolchildren have as much right as anyone else to protest, but young people are more vulnerable and likely to be injured if violence breaks out. We would ask parents to talk to their children and make sure they're aware of the potential dangers, as there is only so much police officers can do once they are in a crowd of thousands.

But London Assembly Green Party member Jenny Jones said it was important young people were given the chance to protest without being put in danger. She said: If young people come to London to protest then they have got the right to expect the police to let them protest peacefully. They (Met) are almost saying it is too dangerous to protest, but it is the police who are making it more dangerous by using tactics such as kettling.

 

13th November   

Update: Miserable Scotland...

Excessive ID checks for drinkers and an end to happy hours
Link Here  full story: Drinking Restrictions...Drinking becomes the target of killjoy politicians

25+ age restriction New drinking restrictions have been passed by Scottish Parliament - but without plans to bring in minimum drink pricing.

But the more prohibitionist measures, including raising the purchase age for off licence sales, failed to find enough support.

The bill will ban supposedly irresponsible drink promotions at off licences. This aims to end the sale of alcohol at heavily discounted prices, as well as offers such as two-for-one deals. Specific measures are expected to be in place in the spring.

The bill, which was passed unanimously will also pave the way for the introduction, in future, of a social responsibility fee on retailers who sell alcohol.

And licensed premises will be required to operate more repressive proof of age rules, based on the age of 25, rather than 21.

Ministers claimed a wide range of professionals, including senior police officers and health 'experts', backed plans to set a minimum price per unit of alcohol at 45p. But Labour, the Tories and Lib Dems said the move would penalise responsible drinkers and could be illegal under European competition law. As MSPs debated the bill for the final time, Health Secretary Nicola Sturgeon attempted to re-insert minimum pricing into the legislation after it was removed at an earlier stage, but parliament opposed the move.

Government plans to allow local licensing boards to raise the age for buying alcohol from off licences from 18 to 21 were previously dismissed as discriminatory by opposition parties.

The Tories failed to find enough support to insert a sunset clause in the legislation, which would have required a review of its main measures after five years.

 

11th November   

Shock and Ore...

Operation Ore case to be heard in the Court of Appeal
Link Here

Old Bailey If the rash of news stories this evening isn't enough of a hint.

Just to let you all know that on Thursday the Court of Appeal gets to hear just how dumb the cops and their IT goons running Operation Ore actually were.

The hearing is expected to last two days. Final judgement will probably be reserved to a future date.

Serious Doubts

See  article from  telegraph.co.uk

Police had serious doubts about child porn database evidence Police had serious doubts about the quality of evidence that led to the conviction of thousands of men in connection with child pornography online, it is claimed.

An investigation into the Operation Ore database, broadcast on the eve of a landmark appeal, alleged that detectives suspected many of those prosecuted were innocent victims of credit card fraud.

Peter Johnston, a former computer crime officer for Merseyside Police, told ITV News that officers rounded up people whose details had been linked to internet child pornography despite doubts over their guilt. He said: There then came the calls of 'let's get out, let's get them locked up, let's get these people off the streets, you can't have paedophiles wandering round the streets'. My view, and it's purely my own view, is that yes there was a witch hunt.

Operation Ore began after authorities in America prosecuted the owners of a website called Landslide Inc, which showed child abuse images, and found the details of thousands of credit card subscribers to associated (and mostly adult) sites. The names of more than 7,000 Britons were found on the database and some were prosecuted even though raids found no indecent images on their computers.

Their lawyers argue that some were victims of a miscarriage of justice, as their credit card details had been stolen and used to buy child pornography.

ITV News says it has uncovered an email from one detective involved in the manhunt who wrote: I have serious doubts about the quality and integrity of the evidence supplied by the National Crime Squad. I strongly advise to hold back on any further action until further notice.

It comes as the Court of Appeal hears a test case involving Anthony O'Shea, who was jailed for five months in 2005 after his details were found in Operation Ore, even though no illegal images were found on his computer.

 

1st November   

Update: Harassing People for What?...

100,000 random police searches fail to find anything terror related
Link Here  full story: Stop and Search...Ever more checks without justification

Home Offie logo Out of more than 100,000 people stopped and searched by police using supposedly anti-terror powers not one single arrest was made for terrorism-related offences, new figures show.

A total of 101,248 stops and searches were made under section 44 of the Terrorism Act 2000 in 2009/10, but only one in every 200 led to an arrest and none of these were terror-related, the figures released by the Home Office showed.

Theresa May, the Home Secretary, ordered a review of the controversial stop and search powers earlier this year, saying she wanted to correct mistakes made by the Labour government which, she said, was allowed to ride roughshod over civil liberties.

The powers allow officers to stop anyone in a specified but widely cast area without the need for reasonable suspicion.

Across Great Britain, 506 arrests were made after people were stopped and searched under section 44 of the Terrorism Act, 0.5% of the 101,248 stops and searches, compared with 10 per cent of stops carried out using non-terror powers.

But the use of the stop and search powers fell by 60% compared with 2008/09, the figures showed.

The review of the Government's counter-terrorism policy, which will report shortly, is being carried out by the Liberal Democrat peer Lord Ken Macdonald, who led changes in the way terrorists are prosecuted.

Of all the stops and searches, four out of five of these were made in the Metropolitan Police area, with almost a fifth being made by British Transport Police.

Shami Chakrabarti, director of civil rights group Liberty, said: These Home Office statistics highlight what a crude and blunt instrument stop and search without suspicion has been. It costs us dearly in race equality and consent-based policing with very little return in terms of enhanced security.

Alex Deane, director of Big Brother Watch, which campaigns against intrusions on privacy, added: This is no surprise. Rather than a genuine counter-terrorism tool, random stop and search has been a way of bullying and hassling our increasingly abject population. We have to decide what kind of society we want to live in. Random stop and search allows the state to confront the individual in the street, without cause, and demand your papers. It's wrong.

 

21st October   

Offsite: Miserable Britain...

My ill-fated night on the town in Southampton
Link Here  full story: Drinking Restrictions...Drinking becomes the target of killjoy politicians

25+ age restriction Recently I had the misfortune of being invited for a night out in Southampton.

This visit was a real eye-opener to me and taught me how much the Big Brother society is starting to negatively impact on our day to day lives. I also had a lesson in how little power we have to challenge the people who are doing this.

Let's start with the basics: it is not possible to have a night out in Southampton without carrying some form of identification.

The types that the bars and clubs accept are: a Prove it card (which at 30 I am too old to have), a driving licence (I don't drive) or a passport (which in line with Home Office guidelines I use for immigration purposes only!). Without one of these documents, snarling bouncers will refuse you entry to almost every club or bar, even if you the last time you got IDed John Major was still Prime Minister!

So my night out began by one charitable doormen turning a blind eye to the fact I couldn't prove I was over 18. My 30 year old face and girth was apparently not enough evidence on its own. On to another bar and door staff helpfully told me that it was discrimination to only ID people who looked young. Apparently they'd have merrily turned away a pensioner!

...Read the full article

 

6th October   

Updated: Equality of Easy Offence...

British Government to enact Harman's equality legislation
Link Here
harriet harman and david cameron

  Equally PC?

Ministers have announced that the vast bulk of Labour's controversial Equality Act would be implemented immediately, despite concerns about its impact on business and office life.

The legislation, championed by Labour's deputy leader Harriet Harman, introduces a bewildering range of rights which allow staff to sue for almost any perceived offence they receive in the workplace.

The act creates the controversial legal concept of third party harassment , under which workers will be able to sue over jokes and banter they find offensive even if the comments are aimed at someone else and they weren't there at the time the comments were made.

They can sue if they feel the comments violate their dignity or create an intimidating, hostile, degrading, humiliating or offensive environment . They could even have a case against their employer if a customer or contractor says something they find offensive.

Business leaders warned that the equality laws could derail Britain's economic recovery, with fears that employers will face frequent trivial discrimination claims.

Tory MP Philip Davies said the decision to press ahead with Labour's Equality Act showed the politically correct consensus is still alive and well in Government . This is Harriet Harman's politically correct legacy, full of stuff that is completely barmy to most people. It will be the end of the office joke. It is a charter for lawyers and people who want to make vexatious complaints that will tie employers up in knots.

Home Secretary Theresa May, who is also minister for women and equality, has defended the decision to press ahead with the laws, saying: In these challenging economic times it's more important than ever for employers to make the most of all the talent available. When a company reflects the society it serves, it's better for the employer, the employees and the customers.

Offsite Comment: There's nothing Enlightened about the new equality law

6th October 2010. See  article from  spiked-online.com by Brendan O'Neill

Spiked logo There could be no better illustration of the extent to which modern-day liberals and humanists have lost their way than their current clamouring for more state intervention into religious affairs. Their only criticism of the government's new equality legislation dreamt up by New Labour and enacted by the Liberal-Conservatives on Friday is that it doesn't go far enough in forcing religious groups to modify their employment practices to bring them into line with the rest of society. They seem blissfully unaware of the fact that the Enlightenment creed of liberalism, which they claim to represent, sprang precisely from a principled opposition to the invasion of the civil authorities into matters of faith.

...Read the full article

 

1st October   

Update: Cheers to the Opposition...

Miserable Scottish government move to increase drinking age to 21 thrown out
Link Here  full story: Drinking Restrictions...Drinking becomes the target of killjoy politicians

cheers Miserable Scottish plans to ban people under the age of 21 from buying drink in supermarkets and off-licences have been thrown out.

Holyrood's health and sport committee rejected an Scottish National Party proposal to give licensing boards the discretion to ban sales in areas where excessive drinking has led to antisocial behaviour by five votes to three.

Opposition MSPs ignored a last-minute plea from Health Secretary Nicola Sturgeon who said more than 2,000 under-20s were discharged from hospital in Scotland with an alcohol-related diagnosis in 2007-08.

Liberal and Conservative committee members voted in favour of an amendment lodged by Labour public health spokesman Dr Richard Simpson, which argued that the proposal discriminated against young people.

Dr Simpson said he was glad that the majority of committee members had supported his amendment. The fact is Nicola Sturgeon has lost the argument with young people in exactly the same way as she is losing the argument with pensioners who would be penalised by minimum unit pricing, he added.