Vir Cantium

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Category Archives: Law and Order

Internet Surveillance: Yes, It’s Another Round of Big Government Bingo!

OK, so far, I’ve got:

  • “combating terrorism”
  • “need to take action”
  • “serious crime”
  • “potential for saving lives”

I’ve also picked up the ‘ratchet effect’ bonus point for:

  • “There is nothing new about this….updating existing regulations.”

And for triple points the perennial:

  • “paedophile”

Of course, it’s another broken manifesto promise and another desperate attempt to pander to a perceived Daily Mail constituency (the last six years of courting the Guardian having gone so well). Today it’s the proposals to force ISPs to install equipment to monitor everyone’s internet traffic (to conform, it appears, to EU desires). It’s OK, though, they won’t be storing the contents of your emails (yet) and they will need a court order to undertake the interceptions (for now).

Indeed almost every sentence that is spoken or written in defence of the plans can be suffixed with the words ‘yet’ or ‘for now’ without negating what has been said.

I suppose we should congratulate the Home Office for so effectively house-training the Home Secretary and her team.

However, judging by the comment ratings over at the Mail, this isn’t going down too well even there.

So let us, just for the record, run through the usual rebuttals, as they cannot be repeated too often.

“If you’ve done nothing wrong, you’ve nothing to fear.” If I’ve done nothing wrong, why should I have to prove it? Innocent until proven guilty and all that? It’s one thing to be questioned by a police officer if I was at the scene of a crime, or close to a suspect, but to have my everyday movements monitored on the assumption, or just in case I am a criminal? Oh, and don’t patronise me by comforting me that court orders will be required before all this happens; how many such orders ever get refused?

“If you’ve nothing to hide…” another variation on the above. You may not think you’ve anything to hide today, but we live under a law that criminalises free – albeit very distasteful – speech and is open about introducing retrospective legislation.

“It’s for the children.” Yes, they have actually mentioned paedophiles in all this, because they’re on every street corner, you know, and no-one has ever been picked up and prosecuted after surfing or downloading such material. That famous episode of Brass Eye episode wasn’t satire, it was a prediction.

It’s all OK, though, because there will be some vague form of independent oversight, and it’s not going to be a central database (yet). So that’s alright then, we can trust the government’s word on that can’t we?




Rioter Evictions: Don’t Kick Them Out, Kick Them Down

Not surprisingly

David Cameron back[s] councils planning to evict rioters
The prime minister has said people who “loot and pillage their own community” should be evicted from council houses.


David Cameron told the BBC he thought evictions were a way of “enforcing responsibility in our society”.

That David Cameron is backing a populist move I’m not going to criticise. He’s a politician. Alas we can only compare them by the number of bandwagons they jump on.

Back to the point, though: it’s a daft idea. Not the principle – abuse taxpayers’ ‘largesse’ and expect us to take such support away – it’s the practical aspects that cause the problems.

Why should children suffer because their sibling is a thieving scrote? What’s the point making them homeless when we’ll then end up re-housing them anyway?

On the other hand, it’s right that parent(s) take responsibility for their offspring’s crimes. Whining that “I can’t watch him and also keep an eye on little Chardonnay, Tyson and Kyle … I mean, have you seen the price of Sky subscriptions these days innit?” isn’t good enough. Children are a responsibility that you cannot turn off when you feel like it – it’s 24*7 – that’s even (slightly) longer than they have the widescreen telly switched on for.

Talking of parental responsibility and standards, we can’t ignore this gem from yesterday:

‘Sexy’ pics at 12, pregnant at 15 …and her proud mum’s delighted

A SCHOOLGIRL who posed aged 12 for controversial bikini pictures in a magazine is now pregnant at 15 – to the joy of her mum.

And why is her mum so overjoyed? Being a grandmother (again)? Looking forward to being a great-grandmother in her early sixties? Nope:

Jobless single mum Janis, 48, said she was delighted because the council will now have to give her a bigger house.
She added: “Our three-bedroom place was already overcrowded with her sisters Coco and Ritzy, her brother Tarot, Soya’s boyfriend Jake and one of her sister’s babies. Once the new baby comes the council will have to find us a place with four or five bedrooms.

“We’ve already started packing.”

F. F. S.

Interesting, in the context of evicting rioters, is what this tells us about what the parasitical classes value as status symbols. Yes, we can all think of the bull terriers, the plasma TVs, the chavved-up hot hatchbacks, but top of the premier league must be the size of your house.

(Not that different from so many, of course … except that if Joe Bloggs at last weekend’s barbeque had a five bedroom house, the assumption is that he owns it and honestly earned the money to pay for it (or service the mortgage). At a stretch, it may have come out of an inheritance, but the bequest was presumably not made under duress.)

So if the size of the house is such an important factor in what passes for the lives of the feckless, then we have a credible compromise when it comes to whether or not to evict rioters and their families. Don’t evict them from social housing completely – just move them into smaller accommodation. Had a four bedroom house before you smashed up the High Street? Now it’s a two bed. Had a two bed? Now it’s a studio flat. Hit them where, clearly, it would really hurt.

The cost to the taxpayer is reduced and the point is made, but without going through the ultimately pointless and even more expensive motions of eviction, B&B and rehousing in somewhere of equal size – or possibly, it cannot be ruled out, somewhere better than where they are now.

Now they can start packing.

Is Hugh Orde the Top Cop Union’s Official Candidate for Met Commissioner?

One could be forgiven for thinking so.

Admittedly, whether ACPO – the Association of Chief Police Officers – is a trade union or not is a nuanced point. They say they are a professional body, which for many white collar roles is the equivalent of a trade union (just as my own is in the world of accountancy). It works, it says, in the public interest – though you’ll have trouble finding a trade unionist who doesn’t think that their members’ interests are largely aligned with the public’s. There is a Chief Police Officers’ Staff Association, but the boundaries between it and ACPO will inevitably become blurred at times.

Bill Bratton

Old Bill not so keen on Bill Bratton

ACPO is certainly seen to oppose elected chief constables; the government policy that threatens to end the closed shop and cosy club that is the higher ranks of the police service. Now its General Secretary President, Sir Hugh Orde, attacks the idea of a foreigner – the American Bill Bratton – becoming an adviser on gang crime, and thus implicitly his suitability for taking over as Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police; a job that Bratton is rumoured to be favoured for by Number 10 ‘in the longer term’. This is done just as a ‘traditional’ trade union might grumble over the use of foreign labour ‘taking their member’s jobs’ – or, as they would more likely put it in politically correct terms – compromising the quality of service or safety that otherwise only their members British workers can provide.

This being ACPO, Sir Hugh also throws in the ubiquitous complaint about politicisation of the police (which is equally debatable, given its implied assumption that the service isn’t already politicised).

To be fair, though, so far Hugh Orde is just doing his job as the leader of the ‘trade union’ of the top police brass, but with one crucial added factor; he sees himself as being in the running for the vacant job at the top of the Met. Slagging off the Prime Minister might be a strange way of going about making the case for his appointment, though it may well chime with the views and ethos of the Home Office civil servants who will be drawing up the short-list and advising the Home Secretary.

What is not so clear is how all this will be received by any other potential candidates among the top ranks. A chief constable of another large provincial force, say, might not be so happy with the interventions of Sir Hugh. Not that he or she might disagree with what he is saying, but that there can be little doubt that his comments would receive far less attention were he not the top man at ACPO.

ACPO themselves would no doubt say that the title of this post is a QTWTAIN. However, others might suggest that a more circumspect organisation would endeavour to put up spokesmen who would not be seen to have such a potential personal interest. After all, these days in politics how things look often trumps how things are.

An Alternative 2011: Mayor Livingstone Reacts to the #Riots

Day 1: Ken Livingstone, Mayor of London, expresses shock at Tottenham riots, but said people needed answers over Duggan shooting.

Day 2: Ken is concerned over spread of rioting across North London. He “understands the protestors’ grievances”. He makes comments suggesting that Tesco’s had it coming, but points out to the rioters that they’re wrong because some of the small businesses being hit are run by black business people. Blames the Coalition cuts.

Day 3: Ken says that violence is never the answer and achieves nothing. Announces more cash for youth centres, sponsorship of street artists and grants free Olympic tickets to all under 21’s and single parents in Haringey and Enfield. Blames the unrest on lingering resentment over Iraq and Afghanistan.

Day 4: “Londoners need to come together to say no to racism, hate speech and incitement to violence”, Ken says, adding, “we need calmer voices of reconciliation to be heard”. Announces a summit featuring Lee Jasper, Jody McIntyre, Lindsay German and Ali Desai.

Day 5: Demands explanation after groups complain of police using violence against rioters and kettling of 12 year old looters. Blames the rioting on the legacy of Margaret Thatcher.

Ad nauseam until May 2012….

Deja Vu in Tottenham: Deprived of What, Exactly?

Entrance to Broadwater Farm, London N17

Broadwater Farm Estate, Tottenham: scene of the 1985 riots

I have never been to Tottenham. Hailing from leafy Kent, I’ve had little need to. There are two things that I associate with the place: a football team and the Broadwater Farm riots of 1985 when another generation of ‘disaffected black youths’ from the ‘deprived area’ ‘protested’ against the police by trashing their local neighbourhood and, in that particular event, murdering someone.

My thoughts are with those injured and I am relieved that, as things appear now, we have not seen a repeat of the bloody outcome of the ’85 riots when PC Keith Blakelock was murdered by a mob of rioters.

Back then, we had the delectable Bernie Grant, local MP, declaring that the police had “a bloody good hiding”. Lessons were to be learnt, and in the intervening decades millions in taxpayers’ funding has been poured into the area, and others like it, in the name of regeneration. The schools have enjoyed far greater levels of funding than their counterparts in areas whose youth does not demonstrate their boredom and dissatisfaction by violent destruction. The police have beant over backwards and spent disproportionate amount of time and resources in community policing, anti-gang strategies, Operation Trident, and countless initiatives to ‘reach out’, along with other government and voluntary organisations.

And yet, we get last night’s events, in response to the local police having the temerity to fire back at someone who had just shot one of theirs. Now, in the sense of deja vu that I increasingly seem to get from watching current affairs (I must be getting to a ‘certain age’) the same calls are being made again: for lessons to be learnt, for appeals to understand the ‘anger’. We hear the same breed of disgusting apologists for the violence – some even denying that it counts as ‘violence’.

Yet one lesson that, I fear, won’t be learnt is this: no matter how much taxpayers’ cash you throw at the area, no matter how much effort the likes of the police put into it, things will not change unless the people change. Not all of the people, mind, as I suspect most residents of Tottenham want nothing else but to get on with their lives in peace. It is the minority that poisons a neighbourhood.

Government largesse solves nothing. The deprivation that is talked about is not financial – that is but a symptom – it’s deprivation of responsibility, ambition and respect (real respect, not the warped moral code popular among ‘gangstas’). That means not blaming the police for not being ‘friendly’ enough, not expecting the politicians to ‘do something’, not blaming the system, the bankers, or society. It means not excusing the violence. It means not making excuses for people’s lack of achievement just because they live in Tottenham, or giving the youth an excuse for poor educational achievement because they are black.

For the authorities’ part, it means taking off the kid gloves and dealing with the gang culture, multiculturalism be damned.