Posts Tagged ‘Picketing’

Police to Interview Suspects By Bodycam

November 17, 2015

According to an article in The Canary last week, the government is considering passing legislation to allow the rozzers to interview suspects in the street instead of in an interview room back at the cop shop. These interviews will, however, be recorded by bodycam.

The article begins

Pilot plans to allow police officers to interview suspects on the streets via body cameras, rather than at police stations, has raised concerns among civil liberties groups.

Currently, while the formal caution that police recite when arresting somebody states clearly that anything they say may be used in evidence against them, officers are not formally able to interview someone until they have been taken to a police station. Crucially, once at the police station, the suspect has the right to independent legal advice, and they are entitled to pre-interview disclosure.

This pre-interview disclosure is vitally important as it is designed to ensure the person and their legal representative understand why the person has been deprived of their liberty, the nature of the allegations made against them, and the reason why they have been arrested. Without this disclosure, and access to a solicitor, the suspect is extremely vulnerable, especially if unfamiliar with the complexities of the law.

Unsurprisingly, given the cuts to the police service, these proposals have nothing to do with access to justice, and are primarily concerned with saving money. Hampshire Chief Constable, and national police spokesman for body-worn video, Andy Marsh stated:

‘I think this will lead to swifter, fairer and more importantly cheaper justice.’

The emphasis seems to be most definitely on cheaper justice, with fairness coming a very poor second. The article quotes two critics of the scheme, who point out that current practice is based on decades of experience of the abuse of police powers. And that the people, who will suffer through this innovation won’t be the experienced, hardened crims, but inexperienced suspects unsure of their rights and the law.

The full article can be read at: http://www.thecanary.co/2015/11/11/fears-raised-cheaper-justice-policing-plans/

A number of points can be made here. Firstly, there’s the danger of serious breaches of justice in allowing the police to interview suspects away from the interview room and the presence of a lawyer to represent them. The government seems to think that allowing the interview to be recorded by bodycam will somehow be an acceptable substitute for removing established procedures involving formal, recorded interviews. It looks simply like they’re desperate to get convictions, and are willing to use this technology as a pretext for removing established judicial safeguards. Hey, it’s all recorded on camera, so it’s properly supervised. It can be wrong, can it?’ This seems to be the attitude.

It also shows how the government seems to be believe that increased surveillance technology is automatically a solution. Now, I’m very much aware that there is the view that Paris was targeted by ISIS for their butchery, instead of London, because the City of Light had much less CC TV coverage. But surveillance cameras, as the French also knew, carried their own dangers of creating a pervasive, surveillance state. Alan Moore when he wrote V for Vendetta in the 1980s placed surveillance cameras on the streets in his Fascist future Britain, thinking that this would really scare its readers. Well, it’s now thirty years or so after the strip, and surveillance cameras are everywhere and no one takes any notice, a fact the great man himself has remarked on. I’m sure surveillance cameras have an important use, but they should be adjuncts to, not substitutes for, traditional policing.

I also wonder what will be done about recorded interviews in which the individual is left off without charge. Will they still be retained? What about a person’s right to privacy, and not to have the state keep records on them when they are innocent? There have been cases where innocent citizens have found that the rozzers have continued to keep files on them even after they were released and declared innocent. I’m very much afraid something similar could happen here.

And there is the danger of the wider misuse of such technology as the Tories make Britain become ever more authoritarian and Fascistic. Way back in the 1970s the police were required to compile useful intelligence on potential suspects. This ended up with the bluebottles deciding someone was suspicious, based no more on the fact that they were a Punk, or a pregnant teenager. And one of Cameron’s brilliant ideas was for the cops to take the names and particulars of strikers on picket lines. He’s had to climb down on that, but given the backing the Tories have always received from rabidly anti-union groups, I doubt believe this has gone away. Not completely. So there’s a real threat to civil liberties there.

And lastly, there’s the rather more fantastic threat that this is the start of something like the Borg. They’re the cyborg race from Star Trek, who have merged into a single, collective intelligence – a group creature, so that their society resembles a giant ant’s nest. We’re nowhere near that level of cybernetics yet, but one of the more interesting comments about the Google Glass computer spectacles was that it practically made the wearer one of the Borg. Google Glass were the hi-tech specs that allowed you to surf the internet while walking about, and for your on-line friends to see what you were seeing. I can remember back in the 1990s there was a similar experimental arrangement being tried out by the computer geeks at one of the American unis. A friend of mine, who played Shadowrun, a Dungeons and Dragons-type game based in the world of cyberpunk and computer hacking, seemed unsurprised when I told him about it. He called the technology and the people who used them ‘gargoyles’, which was the term used in the game for people, who used cyberspace technology to experience the sensations experienced by another person.

So, in the game’s parlance, this technology effectively makes the rozzers the justice ministry’s gargoyles. And with others seeing what they see, it’s almost ‘1984’ and the Borg. It’s just that they haven’t been mentally connected to the internet yet, so they aren’t yet like the Robomen of the Dalek Invasion of Earth.

But it’s early days yet. Give the Tories time. They are Borg. Resistance is futile. We will be assimilated.

Cameron’s Francoist Attack on the Unions

October 6, 2015

A few weeks ago Cameron also launched another Tory attack on the trade unions and their right to strike peacefully. Under the new legislation passed by the Tories, a strike is now illegal if a majority of the union’s members do not vote. This is even if the vast majority of those voting are in favour of strike action.

There is also a personally vindictive and totalitarian element in the legislation. Picketers are now required to give their names to the police. It shows very much how the Tories regard strikers and trade unionists as potential, if not actual criminals. Clearly, it’s so the rozzers can keep tabs on them, ready to arrest them the moment someone in the Tory party or the CBI decides that this has gone too far.

The Tories have, no doubt. made noises about how they’re increasing democracy in the trade unions and accountability. It also shows the amazing double standards operating within the Tory party. Cameron is claiming this is democratic, despite the fact that under the same principle, his government is also invalid. The vast majority of the British people did not vote for his government. I suspect that, if past general elections are anything to go by, the majority of British voters decided that there wasn’t much between the political parties, and so didn’t vote at all. If the same principle was applied to Cameron’s government, then it would have to be dissolved, and his nibs face prosecution under the law. But as the old saying has it, ‘The Conservative party is an organised hypocrisy’, and so no such logic has been applied.

The Tories have, of course, hated trade unions since the days of the Combination Acts in the 19th century. They were illegal on the grounds that they were a threat to the operation of the free market. Then, after they were repealed, there was the Taff Vale judgement, which made trade unions liable for damages caused by picketing.

And the Tories have been particularly keen to smash the unions since the coal miners defeated Heath’s government. Their resentment fuelled their determination to destroy the unions and their power utterly with the miner’s strike in the 1980s under Margaret Thatcher. Following the highly militarised suppression of that strike, the Tories have passed increasingly restrictive legislation. This is just the latest, and nastiest, to date.

Even David Davies, one of the most right-wing of the Tories, recognised its totalitarian implications. He denounced it as ‘Francoist’. And indeed it is, if not actually Nazi.

Adolf Hitler

Adolf Hitler: Banned Trade Unions as he claimed they exploited the German worker

I know this is close to becoming another example of Godwin’s Law, which states that whenever there’s an argument on the internet, sooner or later someone will accuse the other of being a Nazi or like Adolf Hitler, but in this instance, this is exactly what it is. Under the Nazis trade unions were banned, and their members and organisers sent to concentration camps. Hitler justified his attack by claiming that he was defending the working class from being exploited by them.

And the Tories have made exactly the same arguments. In the 1980s the Sunday Express made much the same arguments in its violent attacks on trade unions. It demanded tough legislation against them on the ground that union bullying was exploiting the honest, British, Tory-voting worker. In particular, it praised the American laws that made strikes in certain vital industries illegal, and which was used to break a strike by American air traffic controllers. It hardly needs to be said that you can read the same kind of arguments, with the same Nazi attitudes, in the Daily Mail.

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David Cameron and the Tories: want to ban trade unions because they are undemocratic and exploit the British worker

As for taking the names of strikers, this is similar to the tactics used against demonstrators and social activists in that beacon of Asian democracy, Singapore. Under their laws, you can make speeches in public about nearly any topic you like at their equivalent of Speaker’s Corner in Hyde Park. In order to do so, however, you have to notify the police when you will be speaking, what you will be speaking about, and give your name and address. So far there have been very few people willing to make use of their democratic freedom. Somehow I don’t think the similarity of the Tories’ trade union legislation with this piece of anti-democratic legislation is at all coincidental. The Tories have, after all, told us in the page of Britannia Unchained, that British workers should prepared to work under pretty much the same conditions as the Developing World in order for the country to compete globally. Singapore was one of the Asian ‘Tiger’ economies, whose massive economic growth was admired in the 1990s. Clearly the Tories have decided that if they can’t make the economy grow like theirs, they can at least import their highly illiberal legislation and attitudes.

And once it’s been done to lock up strikers and trade unionists, you can bet it will be used against peaceful demonstrators. They’ve already passed legislation against them on the pretext that they are protecting neighbourhoods from the nuisance caused by masses of people marching through their areas.

It’s another nail in the coffin of British democracy and the destruction of British political freedom and free speech.