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Police seek new rights for searching rail passengers

• MPs asked to change 'conditions of carriage'

• Home secretary seeks new powers against gangs

Passengers who buy a London train or tube ticket would automatically be giving their consent to be searched, under proposals now under consideration.

Senior British Transport police officials told MPs today that they wanted to change the railways' "conditions of carriage" to close a loophole that means officers using mobile knife-detecting arches at stations have no legal power to search someone who sets them off unless they have a reasonable suspicion that they are breaking the law.

Assistant Chief Constable Paul Crowther of British Transport police told the Commons home affairs select committee that, as the law stood, it often made more sense to search passengers who deliberately avoided going through the arches.

The proposal emerged as Alf Hitchcock, the Metropolitan police assistant commissioner, said the programme had made a significant impact. Hitchcock, who heads the government's drive against knife crime in police forces across the country, said the forces involved had achieved percentage reductions "in the mid-teens" since it was launched last June.

The police figures support the broad picture of improvement indicated in Home Office figures published last month, which were the subject of stern criticism from new Whitehall watchdog, the Statistics Authority. The authority said the numbers were were "selective" and "unchecked".

The Home Office also confirmed today that the home secretary, Jacqui Smith, wants to introduce banning orders to tackle gang-related violence. She is considering legislation to allow civil injunctions to be used to ban individual gang members from visiting particular areas or wearing insignia or clothes that signal their allegiances.

The idea was given a lukewarm reception by the Labour chairman of the select committee, Keith Vaz, who said he preferred to see measures that tackled the underlying causes of gang culture rather than another method of simply containing the problem.

British Transport police say the proposal to make an agreement to being searched a condition of buying a railway or tube ticket would put the railways on the same footing as public events such as football matches or concerts. Consent is already a condition of travel in the United States.

Crowther told MPs the issue had arisen since 100 mobile search arches were deployed at railway stations and other crowded public places as part of the drive against knife crime.

"We want to conduct these measures with the support of the public and the community," he told journalists today. "I think we would need to engage in debate about whether there was an appetite for that and whether people saw it as reasonable and proportionate."

The transport police chief told MPs they could currently use the arches only to scan people who volunteered to go through them, unless they had a reasonable suspicion the travellers were breaking the law. Police codes of practice ban voluntary searches.

"In effect, a suspect may not be searched, even where consent is provided, in an absence of 'reasonable suspicion'; a procedural stumbling block to the unfettered use of knife arches," said transport police evidence to the MPs' inquiry into knife crime.

"An exception to the procedural prohibition on the conduct of voluntary searches, however, is where submission to examination is a condition of entry to a named premises of a specific location. In relation to policing the railways, one [possibility] may be to have as a condition of carriage, when people purchase a ticket, that they agree to being searched."

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  • 3 weeks later...

Met's new police chief pledges to continue controversial stop and search tactics

• 210,000 youths targeted in nine months, figures show

• Anti-knife crime swoops affect black people most

The new commissioner of the Metropolitan police yesterday vowed to continue "intrusive" stop and search operations against young people indefinitely if required, as the Guardian learned that his force had carried out more than 200,000 in the past eight months.

The force started to increase the use of one of the most controversial police tactics last May to try to curb the knife attacks that have led to more teenage deaths. Many of the 209,269 stops and searches on young people between May last year and this month are under Section 60 of the Criminal Justice and Public Order Act 1994 - a power intended to be used as a short term measure in specific areas.

A disproportionate amount of stops affect black and Asian youths, a fact causing community concern. Recent figures show a black man under 18 is 5.3 times more likely to be stopped than a white youth, and an Asian youth is 1.6 times more likely to be the subject of a "section 60" than a white youth of a similar age.

As he took over as commissioner yesterday, Sir Paul Stephenson said tackling the issue of "kids killing kids" was one of his priorities. He acknowledged the tactics used were "pretty intrusive" but they were reducing knife crimes, down 13.1% between April and November last year.

Figures obtained by the Guardian yesterday show that in the past eight months officers working on the anti-knife crime strategy, Operation Blunt 2, made 7,355 arrests and recovered 4,223 knives from 209,269 stop and searches predominantly aimed at teenagers and young men. One community representative said yesterday that the police remit to continue such tactics would only last as long as allowed by the communities. The Brixton riots in 1980 erupted after intensive use of stop and search powers.

Nims Obunge, a street pastor who works with young men in east London, said: "It is important that we don't see the death of a young person, but the police need to continue to justify the use of stop and search as a crime reduction tool and as one that saves lives. It must be an ongoing dialogue. They have to be accountable." Obunge said there had been several complaints made to borough commanders about inappropriate use of stops and the behaviour of some officers; these issues were being investigated.

Stephenson was asked by the Guardian yesterday whether the rate of stop and searches could go on forever without a backlash.

He replied: "If it is the right tactic to keep people safe that's exactly what we have got to do. We cannot be complacent and say someone else should solve this problem, it is our job to make sure we do everything we can to reduce violence, and that is a long-term issue."

Stephenson said he believed the police were carrying the communities with them but he acknowledged that they had to continue working to keep that support and continue to hold a mandate to carry out the operation.

The Independent Police Complaints Commission is aware of the controversy surrounding stop and searches particularly under section 60. An investigation by the IPCC into alleged misuse of the power by West Midlands police found in 2007 that the force's use of the searches was "off the scale" and the power misused.

Mike Franklin, from the complaints body, said there was an investigation into the powers used by police forces and the way complaints were handled: "We will be addressing the issues it raises around three key areas - fairness, effectiveness and public confidence."

Marian Fitzgerald, a criminologist and former adviser to the Home Office on knife crime, has questioned the use of the searches on such a large scale, and queried the legality of the Met's use of them "on an almost permanent basis".

Indeed.

Where a police officer of or above the rank of superintendent reasonably believes .....

he may give an authorisation that the powers to stop and search persons and vehicles conferred by this section shall be exercisable at any place within that locality for a period not exceeding twenty four hours.

...

If it appears to the officer who gave the authorisation or to a superintendent that it is expedient to do so, having regard to offences which have, or are reasonably suspected to have, been committed in connection with any incident falling within the authorisation, he may direct that the authorisation shall continue in being for a further six hours.

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Wasnt sure whether to put this here or the photography/terrorism thread

Photographers being arrested to seize evidence" claim at NUJ Photographers' Conference

The first NUJ Photographers’ Conference heard claims that police are using their powers of arrest to seize journalists’ material and circumvent the Special Procedure Material protections in the Police and Criminal Evidence Act.

Solicitor Mike Schwartz of Bindman and Partners told conference attendees that police were circumventing the Police and Criminal Evidence Act (PACE) Special Procedure Material safeguards, designed to protect journalistic material such as photographs and notebooks.

“Sadly, I think one of the dangers is that the police are using their powers to arrest journalists and photojournalists in order to get round the protections which are built into PACE which are supposed to protect journalistic material.”, he told the conference.

“The police are arresting journalists, seizing their equipment, treating them as suspects, looking at their photographs, taking copies, perhaps returning them to them, taking no further action often (but not always) and they’ve got, straight away, what they want.”

more here

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Stop'n'search gets touchy-feely

All of the following is the reproduced article and those words in the quote boxes in both brackets and bold type are the amendments as highlighted in the linked article:

Section 44 not to detect terrorists 'but to reassure Londoners'

Feeling unsafe in your life? Looking for reassurance? The Metropolitan Police Service can help you with a touchy-feely new innovation. It's called stop and search.

A new document hints at a shift of emphasis in the Met's strategic vision for counter terrorism stop and search powers. It's going to be a public relations tool.

Section 44 stops and searches were introduced by the Terrorism Act 2000. These powers differ from those of standard stop and search powers, as provided by Section 1 Police and Criminal Evidence Act 1984, in that to use them officers do not need to have reasonable suspicion an offence is being committed.

They can only be invoked in an area or place for which an authorisation has been given by a police officer who is of at least the rank of commander of the Metropolitan Police (for London), and confirmed by the Secretary of State. Authorisations can only last up to 28 days, but they can be renewed ad infinitum, as is currently case for the whole of London.

The Metropolitan Police Service Stop & Search Strategic Committee has recently updated its Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) on Section 44 Terrorism Act 2000; the Metropolitan Police Authority had recommended a review of this document in its Review of police use of counter-terrorism Stop and Search powers in London. This SOP was developed by the Territorial Policing Safer Neighbourhoods unit, first issued on August 1 2007 and later revised to remove Stop codes on December 31 2008. It's been published as part of the Met Freedom of Information Act publication scheme.

Your reporter happened to have saved a much older version prepared just before the London July 7 bombings. It had been compiled by the Territorial Policing Modernising Operations unit for the Demand Management Strategic Committee. This older version initially issued on April 1 2005 and subsequently revised on May 5 2005 is not mentioned at all in the new document. Comparing these two documents shows an evolution in how the Met considers the Section 44 stop and search powers and how it advises its constables to handle them.

Comparing the 'Appropriate Use' section of these two documents shows a change in the purpose of these powers:

Purpose

It is important that officers take every opportunity to (detect) deter and disrupt terrorist operations and provide public reassurance.

Essence of section 44

Police officers in uniform are (entitled) authorised to stop and search people/vehicles to see whether they have 'articles of a kind which could be used in connection with terrorism' and (if) when no such articles are found then they must be allowed to go on their way.

There's an implicit admission that Section 44 stops and searches do not detect terrorists. This is borne out by the available data. In the financial years 2003/4 to 2006/7, the Met stopped and searched 31,797 pedestrians using the powers of Section 44(2); of these only 79 were arrested in connection with terrorism - less than a quarter of a percent - and even fewer will be convicted. The purpose of deterring is feeble considering the extent to which the Home Office is ready to go to avoid revealing when and where the exceptional powers for Section 44 apply.

If the location of authorised zones and when these are in effect is secret, how can it have a deterrent effect at all? What we're left with is the new belief of the Met that these stops and searches are taking place to provide reassurance to Londoners. The time difference is not as much as in Life on Mars but back when the earlier document was written, officers were entitled as now they're authorised; a much more civilised approach to policing.

New text on the introductory page reinforces that a key change in focus in what the Met wants to achieve with these powers is to be seen to be doing something, to reassure Londoners. Surely this could be better done than by stopping and searching passers-by without reasonable cause?

Introduction

Stop and search powers under Section 43 and 44 Terrorism Act 2000 are used to improve the security of London and enhance community confidence by demonstrating a visible, responsive and proactive style of policing. The exercise of Section 44 powers is to disrupt, deter and prevent terrorism and to help create a hostile and uncertain environment for terrorists who wish to operate in London. Section 43 powers are used as a tactic to detect terrorists.

Strategic vision

Counter Terrorism stop powers, if used appropriately and effectively, will serve to reassure the people of London and in doing so will install trust and confidence of all communities.

Historic evidence

Historic evidence on the methodology of (both Irish) National and International terrorists indicates that they operate on a pan-London and (indeed occasionally) a pan-UK basis.

Terrorists need to travel - meetings, training and planning can take place anywhere.

Terrorists need transport - they need to move equipment, material and people around.

Terrorists need to prepare - hostile reconnaissance and surveillance is carried out to plan attacks.

Primary targets

The particular areas where they live, plan, meet and store equipment and arms are generally away from the iconic, financial, crowded places and transportation hubs, which they seek as primary targets.

Vigilance

All staff (should) must recognise that there is an ongoing daily requirement to be remain vigilant and alert to terrorist related activity wherever they may be based or whatever type of policing activity they are involved in.

The mention of the Section 43 powers right in the introduction is clearly there to increase the awareness of all constables of these other stop and search powers also present in the Terrorism Act 2000. The new short sentence on Section 43 is also were the detection of terrorists reappears, as a tactic.

Section 43 provides powers for the police to search someone they reasonably suspect of being a terrorist for the purpose of discovering relevant evidence. These powers are distinct and should not be confused; this is clarified in a new section titled 'The Encounter':

If after speaking with the person stopped the officer considers a search is still required, then a Section 44 search should be carried out. If the officer has reasonable grounds to search then a section 43 search should be completed.

None of the generally available statistics (such as Statistics on Race and the Criminal Justice System, Home Office Statistical Bulletins and Met Stop and Search Monitoring Reports) that include data on stops and searches separate Section 43 data from overall total. One of the very few relevant statistics appeared in the Metropolitan Police Authority document Counter-Terrorism: The London Debate: from October 2005 to September 2006, the Met conducted 114 Section 43 stops resulting in 13 arrests, none of which were for terrorism-related offences. From this limited data, Section 43 has been particularly inefficient to detect terrorists.

Terrorists do indeed need to travel, transport and prepare. They also need to sleep and eat. As does everyone else. The last annual Met counter-terrorism ad campaign highlighted three dangerous items used by terrorists: mobile phones, houses and cameras. Photographers have been found particularly suspicious lately.

In the new 'The Encounter' section, one of the "Notes to officer" is:

Explain to the person being stopped that they are being stopped as part of the operation to reduce the risk of terrorism in London. Reassure the individual that the stop is a routine part of counter-terrorist policing and it is a preventative power proven to help make London safer from a terrorist attack.

After years of getting poor results in terms of stopping terrorists using the powers of Section 44, is the Met attempting to use these as a public relations tool? Officers conducting the stops and searches may find it difficult to convince us.

(For a more general context see the latest Practice advice on stop and search in relation to terrorism, now produced by the National Policing Improvement Agency on behalf of the Association of Chief Police Officers.)

David Mery is a scribbler and technologist based in London. Over three years ago he was stopped and searched under Section 44(2). Subsequently he went to ask a question to the Metropolitan Police Authority about the effects of such tactics on the relationship between Londoners and the police. His website is gizmonaut.net.

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Criminal policing

Did you know ... police face few sanctions even if their conduct, such as searching you for 'over-confidence', is deemed unlawful

Back in the heady days of September 2007 I was at an arms fair in the Docklands in London, though to avoid confusion I should add I was outside speaking against it, rather than inside browsing. The crowd I addressed was a mixture of Quakers and crusties and for my troubles the police stopped and searched me as I left the event, an incident that I wrote about in Cif.

When the police conduct a stop and search they have to fill out a form giving their reasons and hand a copy over to you. On mine they wrote that Mr Thomas appeared to be an "influential individual" – a quote I intend to use in future publicity – and had attempted to walk past the police with an "over-confident manner" – always a sure sign of criminal intent. Maybe I am wrong, perhaps there is a forensic linkage with having an "over-confident manner" and criminality, perhaps the police routinely chase suspects through our metropolis shouting, "Stop him, he's got a jaunty demeanour!" But I got the distinct impression the police were stopping me because they thought they could.

My rakish over-confidence might be the reason I was stopped but the official purpose was to look for items I might use to commit criminal damage (the arms fair had been subject to a paint attack earlier in the day). So exactly what tools did the police hope to find rummaging through my wallet? Unless my wallet possessed some Tardis-like qualities it was unlikely that a large crowbar might clatter out from between a photo of my daughter and my British Library card? Wasn't this intrusive as well as unlawful?

Although protesters are often targeted for stop and search, often claiming these are unlawful, they seldom seem to put in official complaints. So with the help of solicitors at Fisher Meredith I brought a complaint against the police. Being Britain the first step in a complaint against an official body is for the very body you are complaining about to investigate itself. And lo the police did find themselves innocent.

In official interviews the officers who conducted the stop and search described me as "pleasant and conversational throughout the incident" and thus were "surprised and disappointed that Mr Thomas has made this complaint". Please note that it is me that has disappointed them in this complaint, we had a bond in those moments you see, a brief passing moment of pleasant intimacy, then I let them down. I don't return their calls, ignore them in the street and am later seen being searched by other police officers. In their logic my decent behaviour exonerates their bad behaviour.

So had I been rude or surly would this have implied guilt on their part? If when stopped I had responded by saying, "**** off copper", would they have blinked and spluttered, "Oh blimey, you got me bang to rights guv'nor ! It's an unlawful search, an' no mistake." How else are we meant to respond to the police if not politely? If innocent people respond rudely they become guilty by default. Suffice to say the police deemed there was "no case to answer".

So pressing on, the issue was put before the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC). Now the IPCC generally attack the police with all the effective ferocity of a moth taking on a lightbulb. So I was somewhat taken aback when at the end of last year they declared that they "consider[ed] the stop and search of Mr Thomas and the subsequent search of his wallet was unlawful". And that "it would appear that the officers had misinterpreted their powers under PACE (Police And Criminal Evidence Act)". In an earlier point in the investigation the police said they had stopped everyone at the demo with a bag, this the IPCC said was "an indication that the officers did not consider whether or not they had reasonable grounds to suspect each individual may have been in possession of items to use in criminal damage".

Fifteen months after the event the police have been found to be acting unlawfully. So what sanctions do the police face? "The appropriate way to address the failure in standards is that the officer is given words of advice," says the IPCC, "Such advice is neither given nor received lightly and is delivered by a senior member of the officer's management team." I am sure you will agree this is a daunting sanction.

The debate about the use of stop and search – be it protesters or young black and Asian men, be it in the case of stopping knife crime or deterring terrorism – is one that has understandably perhaps been fixed on the police results rather than the times they get it wrong. But it is in the cases where they get it wrong that attitudes towards police are sharpened and the rights we feel we have as citizens practically defined. So I am writing to the police requesting a formal admission of liability on the part of the commissioner and damages for assault and false imprisonment.

The Convention on Modern Liberty will begin in London on Saturday 28 February at 9.45am at the Institute of Education, 20 Bedford Way London WC1. Other sessions, with live screenings from London, will take place at Trinity Centre, Trinity Rd, Bristol; Student Council Chamber, Oxford Road, Manchester University; Cambridge Union, Bridge Street, Cambridge; Institute of Advanced Studies, University of Strathclyde, Montrose Street, Glasgow; Peter Froggatt Centre, Queen's University, Belfast. The venue in Cardiff is yet to be confirmed.

modernliberty.net

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Why protesters are now stalkers

One of the most heartbreaking articles I have ever read was a response column published recently in the Guardian. Edward Countryman explained that he was writing on behalf of his wife, Evonne Powell-Von Heussen, "who could not bear to face" the unintended consequences of the thing she had created.

For 17 years she was the victim of an aggressive stalker, who attacked her and held her captive. She spent five years running a brave and vigorous campaign for an anti-stalking law, to ensure that nobody else's life could be ruined as hers was. Now she has seen how that law – the 1997 Protection from Harassment Act – is being used for a completely different purpose. She is so upset by the "perversion of its intentions" that she cannot bring herself to confront it.

Powell-Von Heussen "took great care that the act would protect frightened, endangered individuals from their assailants, and only such persons". But the first three people to be prosecuted under it were all peaceful protesters. Since then it has been used by the police and courts to criminalise almost all forms of dissent.

The law creates an offence of pursuing "a course of conduct which amounts to harassment of another". Harassment is defined as "alarming the person or causing the person distress". The act can be used to impose injunctions on people, criminalising their previously lawful activities. As the injunctions use civil law to create criminal offences, they require a much lower standard of proof: hearsay evidence and untested and unproven allegations can be used to criminalise any action the police or the courts wish to stop.

In 2001, the act was used to prosecute protesters outside the US intelligence base at Menwith Hill, who were deemed to have distressed American servicemen by holding up a placard reading "George W Bush? Oh dear!" In the same year a protester in Hull was arrested under the act for "staring at a building". In 2004, police in Kent arrested a woman who had sent two polite emails to an executive at a drugs company, begging him not to test his products on animals. In 2007, the residents of a village in Oxfordshire were injuncted from protesting against a power company's plan to fill their lake with fly ash – in case they caused alarm or distress to the company's burly security guards.

Having discovered what a useful tool it had become, in 2005 the government amended the act in a way that seemed deliberately to target peaceful protesters and smear them as stalkers. Originally you had to approach one person twice to be "pursuing a course of conduct"; now you need only approach two people once. In other words, if you hand out leaflets to passers-by which contain news that might alarm or distress them, that is now harassment. The government slipped in a further clause, redefining harassment as representing to "another individual" (ie anyone) "in the vicinity" of his or anyone else's home (ie anywhere) "that he should not do something that he is entitled or required to do; or that he should do something that he is not under any obligation to do". This is, of course, the purpose of protest. These amendments, in other words, allow the police to ban any campaign they please. Surreptitiously inserted into the vast and sprawling 2005 Serious Organised Crime and Police Act, they were undebated in either chamber of parliament.

So who can blame Powell-Von Heussen for being unable to face the monster to which she unwittingly gave birth? The government, police and corporations have used the law she requested to ban people from acting very much as she did: peacefully seeking to change the way the world is run.

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DISCLAIMER: SOCIALIST RANT COMING UP, PLEASE AVERT EYES IF OFFENDED OR BORED :)

God this is going to sign so cliche. But it's truely how I feel.

The government doesn't even need to have a police state to control the people. Everyone is already in fear, of terrorism, the credit crunch, murder on our streets etc, etc, etc. It's pumped into us day after day after day, through the independent media, and creates two consequences.

1) Belief that the government can control all of this, can save us from our fears, if they are given more power to do what is really in their own interests.

2) Belief that the only thing which makes people happy is buying material items which make them feel more comfortable, more secure.

This is so much more subtle than measures which hint towards the existence of a police state. The people don't even feel like they're being oppressed, so they can't even point to the problem.

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Harassment is defined as "alarming the person or causing the person distress". The act can be used to impose injunctions on people, criminalising their previously lawful activities. As the injunctions use civil law to create criminal offences, they require a much lower standard of proof: hearsay evidence and untested and unproven allegations can be used to criminalise any action the police or the courts wish to stop.

In other words, if you hand out leaflets to passers-by which contain news that might alarm or distress them, that is now harassment.

These parts are in my opinion something everyone should be concerned about.

Effectively stopping flyers being handed out containing certain truths (whatever they may be) and making distribution of said flyers an offence.

Forums such as this will probably be next, some of the threads on here contain information which people who don't follow current events would possibly find distressing.

Are we stalkers?

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These amendments, in other words, allow the police to ban any campaign they please. Surreptitiously inserted into the vast and sprawling 2005 Serious Organised Crime and Police Act, they were undebated in either chamber of parliament.
How often are these words being attached to contentious laws nowadays. Just as with the current 'coroners' bill - put together a mishmash of rubbish and throw in a few whoppers, drop one headline piece of legislation to buy of the rebel sheep and slip in the real nasty stuff sandwiched in between. I'm sure if this had been challenged then we would have been reassured that the correct checks and balances were being put in place to make sure people arrested for staring at buildings were doing so in a malevolent manner and not in a friendly way.You really can't trust the bunch of crooks can you. BIAD.
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DISCLAIMER: SOCIALIST RANT COMING UP, PLEASE AVERT EYES IF OFFENDED OR BORED :)

God this is going to sign so cliche. But it's truely how I feel.

The government doesn't even need to have a police state to control the people. Everyone is already in fear, of terrorism, the credit crunch, murder on our streets etc, etc, etc. It's pumped into us day after day after day, through the independent media, and creates two consequences.

1) Belief that the government can control all of this, can save us from our fears, if they are given more power to do what is really in their own interests.

2) Belief that the only thing which makes people happy is buying material items which make them feel more comfortable, more secure.

This is so much more subtle than measures which hint towards the existence of a police state. The people don't even feel like they're being oppressed, so they can't even point to the problem.

I agree, to a point. Except, I'm not in fear. But articles like the one above about the harrassment laws, give me cause for concern.

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These parts are in my opinion something everyone should be concerned about.

Effectively stopping flyers being handed out containing certain truths (whatever they may be) and making distribution of said flyers an offence.

Forums such as this will probably be next, some of the threads on here contain information which people who don't follow current events would possibly find distressing.

Are we stalkers?

Yes you are - and people have already been charged with offences against the ministry of truth by conspiring to distribute non-govt approved material with the direct purpose of distressing people (at how woeful their govt are) and alarming people (at how little there is they can do about it).

Blair laid bare: the article that may get you arrested

In another example of the Government's draconian stance on political protest, Steven Jago, 36, a management accountant, yesterday became the latest person to be charged under the Serious Organised Crime and Police Act.

On 18 June, Mr Jago carried a placard in Whitehall bearing the George Orwell quote: "In a time of universal deceit, telling the truth is a revolutionary act." In his possession, he had several copies of an article in the American magazine Vanity Fair headlined "Blair's Big Brother Legacy", which were confiscated by the police. "The implication that I read from this statement at the time was that I was being accused of handing out subversive material," said Mr Jago. Yesterday, the author, Henry Porter, the magazine's London editor, wrote to Sir Ian Blair, the Metropolitan Police Commissioner, expressing concern that the freedom of the press would be severely curtailed if such articles were used in evidence under the Act.

Mr Porter said: "The police told Mr Jago this was 'politically motivated' material, and suggested it was evidence of his desire to break the law. I therefore seek your assurance that possession of Vanity Fair within a designated area is not regarded as 'politically motivated' and evidence of conscious law-breaking."

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Yes you are - and people have already been charged with offences against the ministry of truth by conspiring to distribute non-govt approved material with the direct purpose of distressing people (at how woeful their govt are) and alarming people (at how little there is they can do about it).

Indeed, it kinda reminds me of this incident last october...

We will not be silenced, say protesters after clash with police

CAMPAIGN groups will return to Liverpool city centre this weekend despite clashing with police and claiming their “freedom of speech” had been violated last week.

Members of around 10 groups including Keep Our NHS Public, the Socialist Party, and Stop the War Coalition say peaceful leafleting ended in a “near riot” because of the police’s action.

They say literature has been confiscated on many previous occasions and they deny anyone broke the law on obstruction or public order grounds.

They are now planning to set out their campaign stalls again this Saturday and say they will not be silenced.

Merseyside police refuted the claims that officers breached any human rights, as two people were arrested on Church Street.

The force claims officers received complaints from the public and shop owners about campaigners causing an obstruction.

It is also alleged one campaigner verbally abused an officer.

But Socialist Party member Tony Aitman, who was present last Saturday morning, said: “A huge crowd of people were gathered as this was all happening, they were very shocked.

“Over the last few months, campaigners on issues as diverse as the war in Iraq, animal rights and defending the NHS have been the subject of police bullying, with many being cautioned and arrested.

“We were peaceful but the situation rapidly turned ugly when the police came

more here

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As this seems to be the most popular thread on the subject at the mo, I'll pop this in here:

Lords: rise of CCTV is threat to freedom

World's most pervasive surveillance undermines basic liberties, say peers

The steady expansion of the "surveillance society" risks undermining fundamental freedoms including the right to privacy, according to a House of Lords report published today.

The peers say Britain has constructed one of the most extensive and technologically advanced surveillance systems in the world in the name of combating terrorism and crime and improving administrative efficiency.

Alan Travis on a Lords report warning that CCTV is a threat to freedom Link to this audio The report, Surveillance: Citizens and the State, by the Lords' constitution committee, says Britain leads the world in the use of CCTV, with an estimated 4m cameras, and in building a national DNA database, with more than 7% of the population already logged compared with 0.5% in the America.

The cross-party committee which includes Lord Woolf, a former lord chief justice, and two former attorneys general, Lord Morris and Lord Lyell, warns that "pervasive and routine" electronic surveillance and the collection and processing of personal information is almost taken for granted.

Although many surveillance practices and data collection processes are unknown to most people, the expansion in their use represents "one of the most significant changes in the life of the nation since the end of the second world war", the report says. The committee warns that the national DNA database could be used for "malign purposes", challenges whether CCTV cuts crime and questions whether local authorities should be allowed to use surveillance powers at all.

The peers say privacy is an "essential prerequisite to the exercise of individual freedom" and the growing use of surveillance and data collection needs to be regulated by executive and legislative restraint at all times.

...more on link

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Then again, we could be tennis players (or anyone else whose body is signed up to the WADA code) and have to notify the authorities of where we will be for one hour every day:

Andy Murray criticises new anti-doping rules

Top tennis players including Andy Murray and Rafael Nadal are in open revolt at what they consider to be intrusive new anti-doping rules that demand testers know their location every day.

Players jeered representatives of the International Tennis Federation (ITF) when details of the stringent regulations were announced at a stormy meeting at the Australian Open in Melbourne last month. One player walked out and others questioned ITF officials on the mandatory requirement of the World Anti-Doping Agency (Wada).

Under Wada’s ruling, athletes must report where they are for one hour of each day for the whole year so that investigators can call at any time, unannounced. Anyone who misses three tests in an 18-month period could be suspended for up to two years.

Nadal, the world No 1, condemned the rules as showing “a lack of respect for privacy” and last night Murray criticised the new regime as unworkable and called for a rapid review of the legislation, introduced from January 1.

“These new rules are so draconian that it makes it almost impossible to live a normal life,” the British No 1 said. “I got a visit at 7am one morning at my home right after I had travelled home from Australia. I woke up not really knowing where I was and suffering badly from jet lag. It seemed ridiculous to me as I’d been tested just four days earlier, straight after the match I had lost in the Australian Open.

“The official who came to my home wanted me to produce identification to prove who I was. He insisted on watching me provide a sample, literally with my trousers round my ankles, and then insisted that I wrote down my own address, even though he was at my private home at 7am.”

Resistance to the new anti-doping rules has spread throughout sport, with Sir Alex Ferguson, the Manchester United manager, joining the chorus of condemnation, claiming the new measures are a “logistical headache”. In Belgium, 65 sportsmen are preparing to challenge the Wada code in the courts, a fight that Nadal says he will join. The Spaniard revealed that he has also had an early-morning visit from testers and said: “There is a unanimous voice in the locker-room. It is an intolerable hunt.”

...more on link

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Stop and search? Carry the card

Download this handy card, warning police officers that if a stop and search is intrusive, unlawful or malicious, you will take action

The debate about the use of stop and search – be it protesters or young black and Asian men, be it in the case of stopping knife crime or deterring terrorism – is one that has (understandably, perhaps) been fixed on the police results rather than the times they get it wrong.

But it is in the cases where they get it wrong that attitudes towards police are sharpened and the rights we feel we have as citizens practically defined. So I offer this card for readers to download, print and carry. It warns police officers that if a stop and search is intrusive, unlawful or malicious, you will pursue the issue through the Independent Police Complaints Commission and, if necessary, to civil proceedings. You might want to offer this card to an officer before a search takes place. Enjoy.

Click here to download a pdf of the card. Then print, cut it out, fold it in half and carry it around with you.

Superb. This my card. These are my papers:

stopandsearch.jpg

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Licence to spy on drinkers

The police are forcing publicans to install CCTV before approving their licences

On Monday the Guardian carried a letter from Nick Gibson who told how he had taken over a pub in Islington, London, and had to apply for a new licence, which required the approval of a number of organisations, including the police.

"I was stunned," he wrote, "to find that the police were prepared to approve – ie not fight – our licence on condition that we installed CCTV capturing the head and shoulders of everyone coming into the pub, to be made available to them on request."

He wrote to his MP, Emily Thornberry, but got no reply until today when she sent a letter to the Guardian – a somewhat patronising note, suggesting that this was indeed a civil liberties issue and that the staff from the nearby local Labour headquarters should be able to come and go "without being stolen from and intimidated". She also used the opportunity to take a swipe at the local Liberal Democrat council, which has refused to install street CCTV in Islington.

Typically for a Labour MP, she did not answer the substance of Gibson's complaint, which is that there seems to exist an unofficial policy of forcing pub licencees to install CCTV. In effect, Gibson had been compelled to go along with the policy at his pub – the Drapers Arms – to keep making a living. "When was it that the constant small erosion of our liberties became irreversible?" he asked.

It is clear that the police do indeed have an unofficial policy that they implement in a thoroughly undemocratic manner when advising on licence applications – not on the merits of the case but on the applicant's compliance with their policy.

I contacted the Metropolitan Police Service and asked what was going on. Their statement read as follows:

The MPS overall does not have a policy of insisting CCTV is installed within licensed premises before supporting licence applications. However, individual boroughs may impose blanket rules in support of their objectives to prevent crime and disorder and to assist the investigation of offences when they do occur. Islington is one of the most densely populated districts for licensed premises in London and the borough's licensing authority is committed to providing a safe environment in which to socialise.

Islington council has suggested that Gibson can withdraw his application, take away the CCTV cameras and apply again for the licence. A sensible council would of course waive the need for this absurd procedure, and at the same time publicly state that it will stand against the surveillance creep that is blighting every city centre in Britain. CCTV has its purposes but the idea that someone going for a pint must give up their privacy by having their image taken and stored is repellent to all notions of a free society.

Gibson has been put in a difficult position and I would expect the council to make the first move to resolve what is a minor but also crucial issue of privacy, which of course is guaranteed to each one of us by the Human Rights Act.

If it fails to do so, he might like to provide a mask at the entrances to his pub with a suggestion that if people want to drink in private they hold up the mask as they pass the cameras. Or possibly drinkers may like to go equipped with their own mask. A V for Vendetta mask seems appropriate (£4.99).

Perhaps there should be a V for Vendetta evening at the Drapers Arms. If Gibson would like to suggest a date in the next two weeks, I will publicise it.

In the meantime, it is important that the police understand it is not their business to use their influence to make and implement policy affecting people's privacy.

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Ex MI5 chief says Government 'exploiting terrorism'

Former MI5 head Dame Stella Rimington has claimed the Government had exploited people's fear of terrorism to restrict civil liberties.

In an outspoken interview she said ministers risked handing a victory to terrorists by making people "live in fear and under a police state".

Dame Stella, who stood down as the Security Service's Director General in 1996, also accused the USA of going too far, claiming the Guantanamo Bay camp and allegations of torture had been a recruiting sergeant for extremists.

Her comments came as a report by a panel of leading judges and lawyers said measures to tackle terrorism have undermined international human rights laws.

In an interview with the Spanish newspaper La Vanguardia, Dame Stella said: "Since I have retired I feel more at liberty to be against certain decisions of the Government, especially the attempt to pass laws which interfere with people's privacy."

In the interview, published in the Daily Telegraph, she continued: "It would be better that the Government recognised that there are risks, rather than frightening people in order to be able to pass laws which restrict civil liberties, precisely one of the objects of terrorism: that we live in fear and under a police state."

Dame Stella, 73, has been a harsh critic of the Government's policies, including attempts to extend pre-charge detention for terror suspects to 42 days and the controversial ID cards plan.

She added: "The US has gone too far with Guantanamo and the tortures. MI5 does not do that. Furthermore it has achieved the opposite effect - there are more and more suicide terrorists finding a greater justification."

A study published by the International Commission of Jurists (ICJ) found "many states have fallen into a trap set by terrorists" by introducing measures which undermine the values they seek to protect.

The Panel warned that exceptional "temporary" counter-terrorism measures are becoming permanent features of law and practice. The report condemned the use of "notorious" counter-terrorism tactics such as torture, disappearances, arbitrary and secret detention.

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^ The amount of people in the know that keep warning of a police state in the UK keeps on growing but enforcing more and more state control seems to be hard wired into Labour's DNA.

Read in the paper this morning that under the new counter terror laws you can arrested for photographing a policeman, that's another potential check on their behaviour removed. But we are just paranoid conspiracy theorists Gringo...

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I have to laugh sometimes at the comments on here.

On one hand it is wrong to believe a government and the whole security infrastructure and the messages they give out but on the other hand a newspaper is treated as the gospel and 110% accurate without bias etc. The writers of articles and how they "interpret" comments made in the real world are seen as some sort of gospel writers.

It explains so much

Apparently B'ham council will be banning Christmas because it offends Muslims you know, it's true because I read it and I saw it on an internet article

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