Posts Tagged ‘Police’

Failure to confront brutality in the UK

July 26, 2010

My day of being disgusted began when I read the Observer’s story on British girls undergoing genital mutilation yet there have been no prosecutions against this horrific practice.

It ended with the Dispatches documentary on religious fraudsters encouraging child abuse in their dimwitted but financially lucrative efforts to combat ‘witchcraft’. Again, this medievalism is happening in the UK and the authorities are apparently ineffectual at stamping it out. It is not illegal to accuse a child of being a witch and none of the ‘pastors’ filmed in the documentary have been prosecuted.

Let’s cut to the chase, whilst this abuse may only affect a small (though perhaps growing) number of children in recent immigrant communities, it cannot be tolerated.

The police have specialist units working on both problems. I can only hope their funding survives the Con-Dem cuts. But even with these units in place more must be done to prevent crimes being committed in the first place. I would hazard a guess that the police do not have many staff members who can easily blend in with the communities where this abuse occurs.

Instead of a laissez faire approach to immigration and multiculturalism the state should be far more interventionist. Recent immigrants need to be provided with access to social networks which will encourage integration with mainstream culture and will not leave them vulnerable to the influence of people like these religious charlatans. Cultural space must not be ceded to those who deviate so horrifically from norms of basic decency.

It fills me with sickening, absolute fury that this sort of bollocks is happening in 21st century Britain.

Justice for Sean Rigg – Time to give the IPCC some ‘oomph’

February 23, 2010

I attended the Home Affairs Select Committee hearing into the working of the Independent Police Complaints Commission. The sister of Sean Rigg, whose brother died in police custody in 2008, was not very impressed with the IPCC’s “Mickey Mouse” investigation into her brother’s death.

In a very emotional testimony, she told the MPs that the complaints procedure was so insensitive and inefficient that she and her family had become convinced that the IPCC was simply defending the police.

Although I had every sympathy with her plight I wasn’t quite sure whether I agreed with such an assessment of the IPCC. However, the Chair of the Commission – Nick Hardwick – gave a very lame performance. It did exactly fill you with confidence that the IPCC was being rigorous in checking complaints made against the police.

It took the IPCC seven months to interview the cops present on the night that Sean Rigg died. Seven months – what a joke. Hardwick was unable to give a satisfactory explanation as to why the IPCC operated in such a lackadaisical way and it was clear that MPs were unimpressed.

Changes are certainly needed at the IPCC.

Clampdown on photographers.

January 25, 2010

Here in the UK there have been numerous incidents involving coppers harassing photographers. People have got in trouble for taking photographs in the City of London, for example. Police officers have asked the photographers to delete the images they’ve taken and have tried to justify this by citing anti-terrorism legislation.

Some people see these incidents as evidence that laws ostensibly designed to protect the public from terrorists are in-fact being used to curtail civil liberties in Britain. The conclusions drawn are Big Brother-tastic. Whilst I obviously disapprove of the police harassing photographers, I suspect this takes place as a result of individual officers being overzealous and misinterpreting the powers given to them rather than because the government and police chiefs want to pursue an anti-photography agenda and have set out strict targets for police bullying of photographers.

An example of a genuine clampdown on photographic freedom can be found in Uzbekistan. The woman who took these pictures is currently on trial and faces six months in prison or three years of labour. The Uzbek authorities claim she is deliberately spreading negative images of Uzbekistain and she is being charged with defamation.

Police puppycam.

October 25, 2009

Northumbria Police Dog Section have set-up a ‘Puppycam’ to show off their new collection of police puppies.

There is also a Dog Blog supposedly written by the puppies’ mother, a police dog named Heidi.

Here are some of Heidi’s recent posts:

21st October 2009 – “My trip to the vets”

I visited the vets this morning with my friend Caroline for a quick health check and the vet was very pleased with how I am doing. He said I was fit as a fiddle. I was glad to get back to my pups though. When I got back to the kennels my puppies were all weighed to check how they are doing I am happy to say that they are putting on weight nicely and they are all feeding well. Caroline say’s they are getting bigger and stronger each day.

19th October 2009 – “Sgt Jason Leith comes to visit”

Jason came to visit me today to see how I was doing and to tell me how the Dad Jack has been catching criminals.

19th October 2009 – “My puppies love to sleep”

I was in the middle of feeding the pups today when my owner Rachel’s husband came to see me, it was nice to see a familiar face. My puppies are all similar and a good size for their age especially being from such a big litter. Some are black and tan and look like mini versions of me and the rest have sable coats like their dad. They are very content and peaceful which means they are being well fed and are nice and warm.

 

All very cute.

However, I am concerned that the TaxPayers’ Alliance will be furious if they find out about this. The TPA are heartless bastards when it comes to cutting public spending on human beings – I can only imagine how ruthless they would be if they got to carry out their budget-reducing fantasies on the Northumbria Police Dog Section. Puppies tied up in a bag and thrown into a local river, perhaps?

Long may Northumbria’s Police Puppycam continue unabated!

Odd disturbances in Birmingham

August 9, 2009

33 people were arrested yesterday as two protests took place in Birmingham city centre.

The original protest was organised in opposition to Islamic fundamentalism. It seems to have been put together by football firms calling themselves the ‘English Defence League’. Some of those supporting the EDL are claiming not to be at all racist. But others have been advertising the protest on the neo-Nazi website Stormfront. 

Then there were the counter-protesters organised by Unite Against Fascism.

Local Birmingham blog The Stirrer praises the police handling of the protests and reports that “no significant incidents of disorder appear to have occurred”.

Characteristically, the Daily Mail talks of “mass brawls” and “race riots”. Photos accompanying the Mail’s report do not necessarily show mass brawls but do suggest that some serious incidents of disorder did indeed occur.

My thoughts:

1) Football hooligans gathering together in public places and singing the national anthem aren’t actually doing anything to combat Islamic extremism in this country. When neo-Nazis become involved their claims to be not racist are blown out of the water.

2) Race riots help nobody except the BNP, so if UAF can’t keep control of their demonstrations they should not hold them in the first place as they run the risk of being counterproductive.

3) If the left was able to do a better job of promoting community cohesion and Muslim integration and of denouncing Islamic extremism (anti-fascist campaigns could broaden their efforts to include clerical-fascists) then perhaps there would be less chance of people turning to racists such as the BNP and the moronic chauvinists of groups like the EDL.

Ian Tomlinson: Fresh Evidence

April 17, 2009

I have never been one to retreat from my views without good reason, however, it is clear that my previous post on the death of Ian Tomlinson requires updating. I had previously stated that I did not believe a shove and/or a baton strike were likely to have caused a heart attack. In the light of this I stated that I did not believe it right to prosecute the individual officer. Following the news today that Mr Tomlinson did not die of a heart attack but from abdominal bleeding my positon has changed.

There will now, rightly, be an investigation into whether the officer is guilty of manslaughter. The fresh evidence considerably increases the likelihood that the police assault was responsible for Mr Tomlinson’s tragic death. The investigation will be complex and determining causation will be tough. It is a matter for the experts who need to consider the facts dispassionately. I do not feel it is appropriate to pass further comment on the matter whilst the police investigation is ongoing. My previous views were based on clearly mistaken evidence and I hope they do not now seem disrespectful to the family of Mr Tomlinson. This news must add to the unimaginable grief and anger his family must be feeling at this time. If the officer is prosecuted, the G20 protests will represent a very dark day indeed in the history of the police.

Boris, and the art of sticking your oar in

April 9, 2009

As Paul Waugh and Kevin Maguire have pointed out, there’s something very fishy about Boris’s announcement of Bob Quick‘s resignation on the Today Programme this morning.

Counter Terror policing in the Met doesn’t come under the remit of the Metropolitan Police Authority, which Boris heads – it’s directly accountable to the Home Secretary.

It would appear that there were discussions about Bob Quick’s position last night with the Home Secretary (as you would expect) – but that the Mayor, apparently without reference to the Home Office, the Met or the MPA, decided to go on national radio just after 8am to announce the resignation.

Quite apart from the fact that this is no way to treat an employee of an organization which is accountable to you, it invites the question as to what really went on, and whether Boris had any contact with Mr Quick, either prior to his meeting with the Home Secretary, or prior to his decision to resign (whichever was the earlier).

It’s all very fishy – and it’s not the first time that Boris has appeared to be playing fast and loose with his MPA Chairship (remember, Ken ensured that someone else was Chair of the MPA, to ensure that there was separation of political control from the operation of the capital’s policing).

Remember Greengate, and the conversation with Keith Vaz thereafter? Remember also that it was Bob Quick who made some relatively mild criticisms about the way the Tories worked the press over the Damian Green affair, and provoked the ire of the Mayor and his mates.

It seems to me that Boris is always motivated by partisanism, and never by good governance and sound public administration; also, he shoots from the hip, asking questions later. He doesn’t appear to have much of a grasp of his brief, other than that it’s to make as much trouble as possible for the government (and, by extension, the police). At the very least, he should be seriously considering his position as MPA Chair.

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Street Pastors – proselytising with the support of the Police?

April 7, 2009

People volunteering to spend their evenings talking to the dangerously intoxicated and trying to make sure they don’t choke on their own vomit are to be commended. It’s not surprising that so many police officers welcome the presence of Street Pastors. However, I’m going to be a stubborn old secularist and insist that it is inappropriate for the police and other public servants to give Street Pastors their official backing.

Street Pastors have been operating in the UK since 2003. Inspired by a similar project in Jamaica, the scheme was set-up by evangelical Christians at the Ascension Trust. The Street Pastors mission is to engage with vulnerable young people on the street and to “build trust” with them.

This sounds very nice. The Street Pastors deny that they are essentially Bible-bashers looking for easy targets to recruit into their churches. Indeed, they state on their website that their “role is not about preaching heaven and hell, but one of listening, caring and helping – working in an unconditional way”. They appear to enjoy official sanction – senior police officers routinely praise their work and their website claims that they are supported by the Home Office.

However, I can’t help but notice it is also part of their mission to “earn credibility in the community, so that people know that the Church is there for them in a practical way”. They carry around Bibles with them to help give “guidance” to those in need. Non-religious people cannot join the Street Pastor teams – volunteers must be church members (not exactly “unconditional”) and must pass the Street Pastor training programme (since they insist that Jesus was the “original Street Pastor” I’m guessing that the training involves more than a smidgen of Christianity).

You would have to be pretty naive/dishonest to claim that there is not a sizeable element of proselytising in the Street Pastors’ social work. Religious organisations have traditionally used charitable efforts to spread their values and to win people over to their cause – it’s not wholly altruistic. As well-intentioned as I’m sure the individual Street Pastors are it is a fundamental aim of their organisation to promote Christianity.

Supt John Sutherland with Street Pastor Lewis Ecker

Supt John Sutherland of Islington Police with Street Pastor Lewis Ecker

I therefore think that the police should be wary of endorsing the Street Pastors and of being seen to actively encourage them. Here in Islington a Street Pastors team was recently set-up with the support of the police.  It was reported in the Islington Tribune that the police advise the Street Pastors where to go and that they are also operating a “Word4Weapons scheme, where youths are offered Bibles in exchange for weapons”.

It makes me very uncomfortable to think that the police could be  supporting religious recruitment. I’m not the only one: a Unitarian Church minister from Islington thinks that it is vital for the police to maintain a secular image. He told the Islington Tribune:

“This is a police-sponsored programme. You have law enforcement personnel – the visible symbol of strength of the law of the land – and here they are involved in the distribution of one book of one religion and that can give the impression of not only a state preference of one religion but a compulsion.

It may not be the police who are distributing them but it’s clearly tied to the police and that sends a very particular message. They are coupling power with proselytising.”

The Street Pastors could open themselves up to volunteers of different or no religious beliefs. They could stop carrying around Bibles. I’ve helped at a homeless shelter run primarily by Christians but where non-Christian volunteers were welcome and where evangelism was kept to an absolute minimal. This arrangement seemed to work fine. If the Street Pastors’ mission truly was about simply assisting the vulnerable rather than promoting a religious agenda then running their organisation along more secular lines wouldn’t be a problem. 

But whilst the Street Pastors remain a Christian evangelical organisation the police should not endorse them.

Captain Jako

Kettling, Police Tactics and the G20

April 4, 2009

No one is going to dispute that the police have an important job to do in maintaining public order at demonstrations, and this week’s G20 protests demonstrated (on the whole) a successful police operation for the Met.

However, a number of bloggers have recently brought to light policing tactics at the peaceful Climate Camp demonstration on Bishopsgate. Unlike the protests at Bank and the RBS on Threadneedle Street, the Bishopsgate demo was a peaceful event with none of the anarchist groups that were present elsewhere. From friends I’ve spoken to who were there, it was a mixed group of young and old, and a number of families with toddlers. Why, then, did the Police end up getting so heavy handed towards the end of the day? This video from IndyMedia shows protesters with arms raised being pushed back violently by the police trying to charge up Bishopsgate.

Over at Next Left, Stuart White, a politics lecturer at Jesus College, Oxford, has written an account of the police tactics he witnessed at Bishopsgate which casts doubt on the effectiveness of ‘kettling’; the practice of penning people in and not allowing anyone to enter or leave the area.

The police are to be commended for averting any major incidents during this week, but there are surely better ways to police demonstrations that avoid causing needless distress for peaceful protesters?

– westcoastviews

When yoga instructors turn to terrorism

March 6, 2009

I’m reading about the history of the Aum Shinrikyo cult and am terrified. Terrified not only at the apparent ease with which thousands of intelligent human beings were brainwashed by the lunatic teachings of the cult leader, but also at the incompetence of the Japanese authorities which allowed the cult to prosper for so long.

Aum Shinrikyo was responsible for the 1995 sarin nerve gas attack on the Tokyo underground. This attack killed a dozen people. If the terrorists’ devices had worked properly the fatalities would have been in the thousands.

Aum Shinrikyo was founded by Shoko Asahara in the 1980s. He had always harboured dreams of one day becoming prime minister, but his ambitious life plan was thwarted when his application to Tokyo University was rejected. Asahara instead became a yoga teacher and practitioner of quack medicine. After a trip to India in 1987 Asahara was inspired to start describing himself in messianic terms and demanded increasing devotion from his yoga classes. The cult was born: Aum Shinrikyo means ‘supreme truth’, for this is what Asahara claimed to represent.

Unfortunately his yoga students took him seriously. Within a few years he had amassed thousands of followers and had accumulated an estimated $1 billion in assets for the cult.

Unfortunately the government took him seriously. In 1989 Aum Shinrikyo gained official status as a religious organisation. It was allowed to establish its own hospitals which helped to raise funds for the cult.

Unfortunately the security services did not take him seriously – in the sense that the cult’s doctrinal justifications of extreme violence seem to have been ignored.

Why did it take so long for the police to become suspicious of what Aum Shinrikyo was up to? Surely they should have noticed:

  • Aum Shinrikyo was sending cadres of its followers to receive combat training from Russian special forces.
  • It had bought a Russian Mi-17 helicopter complete with chemical spray dispersal devices.
  • It was spending millions of dollars in building its own arms manufacturing facilities.
  • An anti-cult lawyer and his family went missing in 1989 after speaking out against Aum Shinrikyo (their corpses were found in 1995).
  • Seven people were killed in 1994 in a nerve gas attack on judges presiding over a suit against Aum Shinrikyo.
  • Aum Shinrikyo had bought a 500,000 acre site in Western Australia and started mining for uranium.
  • It had also acquired enough Sarin to kill around 4 million people.

After the Tokyo attack Aum Shinrikyo was shut down and many of its leaders imprisoned. It has, however, been allowed to reinvent itself as ‘Aleph’. The Aleph website apologies for Aum Shinrikyo yet maintains that “founder Shoko Asahara was a kind of genius in meditation” even though “we cannot approve of the incidents his organisation caused”. 

I can only hope that when police in Britain maintain links with cults it is simply because they want to keep a close eye on them.

Captain Jako