Outside the marginals

A commentary on the politics that followed the UK 2010, 2015 & 2017 elections (and THAT referendum)

Archive for the category “Policing”

Do the Police “look like us”?

I have blogged previously about society’s preoccupation with ensuring that Parliament “looks like us” – when I would prefer parliament to represent the diversity of opinion within the country. Perhaps I am “male pale and stale”, but does that mean that Nigel Farage would represent me better than Diane Abbott?

Now we have statistics about whether the police “look like us”.

The case is slightly different to Parliament. Pictures of say, white policemen quelling a riot in a predominantly black area always looks bad – but even if racial diversity at “constabulary population level” was properly represented in the “force” quelling the riot, there would only be a few non-white faces and the pictures would look just as bad – and the non-white policemen may not welcome the attention.

But we have to be careful with statistics! Mrs May might find she has unnecessarily stirred a hornet’s nest. Read more…

Acronyms and Obfuscation

We all do it to a certain extent. We use TLAs (Three Letter Acronyms) in place of the real words. Sometimes it is just a convenient short-hand, sometimes it is laziness, and sometimes it is deliberate obfuscation. Obfuscation can range from the relative benign use of acronyms to try and make ourselves appear more professional, respectable, exclusive or positively different, to the more malign use to hide or sanitise. This is particularly the case when the acronym is less common and relates to something “unpleasant”.

Sometimes you just get accustomed to their use. This past year I have had to get used to doctors using the acronyms PSA and DRE – and I assure you that DRE is not some high-tech medical treatment!

Other times I hope we don’t get used to their use – in fact I would like to see their use banned.

FGM – I have already commented on; it’s not a food additive – that’s monosodium glutamate (MSG), it’s not some form of corporate General Meeting, it’s nothing to do with Focus Groups or Field Goals (except in very narrowly defined contexts). It’s nasty – very nasty.

CEFM – Is not always Continuous External Fetal Monitoring or Center for Excellence in Financial Management despite what a quick internet search might indicate. It’s also nasty – very nasty.

This morning on the Today Program (BBC Radio 4 31 December 2014) I heard an acronym new to me – CSE. It was not an education discussion; it was used by a senior police officer in a piece about the police failing to act on complaints about the claimed sexual abuse of children. Read more…

EFF: Censoring the Web Isn’t the Solution to Terrorism or Counterfeiting. It’s the Problem.

From Electronic Frontier Foundation 25 November 2014 Jeremy Malcolm (© Creative Commons Attribution License)

In politics, as with Internet memes, ideas don’t spread because they are good—they spread because they are good at spreading. One of the most virulent ideas in Internet regulation in recent years has been the idea that if a social problem manifests on the Web, the best thing that you can do to address that problem is to censor the Web.

It’s an attractive idea because if you don’t think too hard, it appears to be a political no-brainer. It allows governments to avoid addressing the underlying social problem—a long and costly process—and instead simply pass the buck to Internet providers, who can quickly make whatever content has raised rankles “go away.” Problem solved! Except, of course, that it isn’t.

Read more…

London is a foreign country; they do things differently there

The BBC Reports:

Stephen Greenhalgh, deputy mayor for policing and crime, authorised the [Metropolitan Police] force to buy the cannon from the German Federal Police.

The mayor’s office said: “By purchasing them now we are able to save over £2.3m compared to buying new devices.”

The water cannon will not be deployed until the home secretary authorises their use in England and Wales.
BBC News Website 10 June 2014 : Metropolitan Police given permission to buy water cannon

Pre-ordered in the expectation that the Home Secretary will escalate the force that the Met is allowed to use. Read more…

Getting the knives out

The Tories seem to have the dog whistles out again. This time to convince their own supporters (who I guess they are fearful of losing to UKIP) that they are “tough on crime”, they are highlighting “knife crime” and the need for “mandatory sentences”. Ed Miliband fearful of being accused of soft and weak has fallen in line. Cleggy to his credit has not.

Nick Clegg has defended his opposition to mandatory sentences for carrying a knife as he faced criticism from Boris Johnson, Ed Miliband and the Metropolitan police commissioner, Sir Bernard Hogan-Howe.

Clegg revealed in the Guardian he had rejected Conservative plans for six-month jail sentences for anyone found in possession of a knife more than once. The plans were championed by Chris Grayling, the justice secretary, and is set to be put to the Commons by Tory backbenchers. The Labour leader’s decision to support the proposal suggests it is likely to be passed when the measure is debated in a few weeks.
The Guardian 8 May 2014: Deputy prime minister defends his stance on knife possession plan

Whilst knife crime is a very serious issue in some parts of this country the proposed solution is a simplistic over-reaction. Read more…

Police Integrity

(An unwise headline that might catch the attention of our country’s surveillance systems – and consequently waste the time of a few electrons!)

Two headlines today (15 October 2013) are linked:

  1. Mark Duggan inquest: Officer ‘saw gun in hand’ (BBC News Website)
  2. IPCC questions police officers’ honesty in ‘plebgate’ row (Channel 4 News Website) Read more…

Miranda and Democracy

In an earlier post I started to ponder what was meant by Democracy.  The post was partly provoked by the difficult situation in Egypt.  The detention of David Miranda last week-end have brought some other aspects into focus. Read more…

Miranda Wrongs

(Follow on from The Tempest unleashed by Miranda)

May praised the police action as she and Downing Street acknowledged they were given advance notice of the detention. May told the BBC: “I was briefed in advance that there was a possibility of a port stop of the sort that took place. But we live in a country where those decisions as to whether or not to stop somebody or arrest somebody are not for me as home secretary. They are for the police to take. That’s absolutely right that they have their operational independence. Long may that continue.”
Guardian Website 21 August 2013: NSA files: UK and US at odds over destruction of Guardian hard drives

This would appear to mean that the Home Secretary if told that a law is about to be misused has absolutely no duty to do anything about it. So the police can use the “Terrorism trumps all” claim to effectively do what they like, and the Home Secretary can use the “It’s an Operational Matter” claim to do nothing about it. Read more…

The Tempest unleashed by Miranda

(Follow on to Alice through the Looking Glass (part 1 of many)

A Home Office Spokesman has responded to the furore over the detention of David Miranda:

“The government and the police have a duty to protect the public and our national security.

“If the police believe that an individual is in possession of highly sensitive stolen information that would help terrorism, then they should act and the law provides them with a framework to do that. Those who oppose this sort of action need to think about what they are condoning.”
BBC News Website 20 August 2013: David Miranda in legal challenge over seized data

This statement deserves to be taken apart. Read more…

Nastiness (part 3 of many) KensalNacht

The Independent Reports:

Home Office officials have conducted a series of “racist and intimidatory” spot checks to search for illegal immigrants in the wake of the Government’s “go home or face arrest” campaign.

Officers wearing stab vests have conducted random stop-and-check operations near stations in the London suburbs of Walthamstow, Kensal Green, Stratford and Cricklewood over the past three days,. …

Onlookers described their shock at the operations, with one member of the public saying it was akin to “Nazi Germany”. The Labour MP Barry Gardiner has now written to the Home Secretary, Theresa May, demanding an investigation into the checks which he said violated “fundamental freedoms”. The raids come just a few months after Ms May took direct responsibility for immigration from the disbanded UK Border Agency.

“We do not yet live in a society where the police or any other officers of the law are entitled to detain people without reasonable justification and demand their papers,” Mr Gardiner wrote. “The actions of your department would however appear to be hastening us in that direction.”

Witnesses who saw the operations in London claimed the officers stopped only non-white individuals, and in Kensal Green said that when questioned, the immigration officials became aggressive.

Independent Website 1 August 2013 Exclusive: The new stop-and-search – spot checks near stations in hunt for illegal immigrants 

Why am I not surprised? Read more…

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