“England has 39 police forces, headed by 39 chief constables or commissioners. In the past 18 months, seven have been sacked for misconduct, suspended, placed under criminal or disciplinary investigation or forced to resign. That is not far off a fifth of the total. In the same period, at least eight deputy or assistant chief constables have also been placed under ongoing investigation, suspended or forced out for reasons of alleged misconduct. No fewer than 11 English police forces – just under 30 per cent – have had one or more of their top leaders under a cloud.”
The Tories are re-learning the point that unionised organisations tend, over time, to pursue their self interest in ways that, unless subjected to the rule of law, will be destructive. This conduct is some way off from the ideal as set by Sir Robert Peel.
Just to state the obvious, White Rose is inactive. This is due to a simple lack of time on the part of the main contributors. Work, life, other blogging… alas White Rose is currently a ‘blog too many’.
Quite possibly WR will be reactivated at some point in the future as Gawd knows the need for it has not gone away.
There has been a chain email doing the rounds. It seems to have caught the public imagination to the extent of being used as a source by at least three well-known national columnists to my knowledge.
There are some unwarranted speculations in it, however, and it is worth going through and picking out what’s not true, because what’s left is quite frightening enough. This is long, sorry.
Actually it is now the Identity Cards Act 2006, and (after a strange and unprecedented delay in getting the final text published, and, unlike all other Acts at time of writing, only in pdf) is now available on the Cabinet Office website here (pdf).
Not, quite, all. → Continue reading: Fisking ‘the anonymous email’
- Andrew Miller MP (Lab, Ellesmere Port and Neston) of the Legislative and Regulatory Reform Bill which gets its second reading of Thursday.
The Bill would permit ministers to change the law by order for the purpose of : “(a) reforming legislation; [and/or] (b) implementing recommendations of any one or more of the United Kingdom Law Commissions, with or without changes.” And they get to nominate the parliamentary procedure for the statutory instrument embodying the order, too.
There are safeguards. Criminal offences and powers of entry, search or seizure, may not be created, or penalties increased above a certain level, unless a Law Commission (an appointed body, remember) has recommended it or it is as a restatement of existing law. An order may not impose or increase taxation, except as a restatement of existing law. Which rather begs the question: how, exactly, can a change in the law be “mere restatement”?
Bureaucrats only expect compliance under threat of punishment. Other people will figure out, even if only by trial and error, how to break any system at its weakest points. See Kevin Mitnick on ‘social engineering’, or–if you are the sort of authoritarian who won’t listen to a felon but is impressed by prizes and tenure–any anecdote by Richard Feinman. I can also thoroughly recommend this post by edjog of the Distreputable Lazy Aliens website:
Read the whole thing, as they say.
The author has kindly offered NO2ID syndication rights, so any magazines interested in new angles on the lamentable scheme for a non-webical audience should get in touch.
Police powers last changed significantly at the turn of the year when the Serious Organised Crime and Police Act came into effect, along with a new ‘Code of Practice’–delegated legislation in effect–under the Police and Criminal Evidence Act 1984.
That’s almost seven weeks ago, so obviously it is time to add to them. Enter the government today with yet another new police bill, the Police and Justice Bill empowering Community Support Officers in some interesting new ways.
Let’s not forget meanwhile the gentle, undisturbed, unnoted, progress of the Powers of Entry Bill which will create a common (low) standard for search and seizure warrants to be issued to officials of all kinds in relation to their functions under around 200 Acts, ranging from adoption to zoo licensing. (And including some long-forgotten items such as the “horror comics” legislation of the 1950s.)
Commenting in The Register on the Government’s defeats in the Lords on the Identity Cards Bill, John is looking ahead:
It would be a lot funnier, if it weren’t so true.
Civil libertarians had noticed that the Blair administration is impatient with conviction rates. We have seen real attempts to reduce the availability of jury trials and to lower the burden of proof. And we have had strong hints from the Prime Minister that he doesn’t regard the principle of innocent until proven guilty as applicable in the modern world.
Astonishingly, however, none of those is enough. A guilty plea may in future permit prosecutors to operate without court process. Idiotically the BBC captions this as “Petty criminals could avoid court“: but a better headline would be “criminal convictions without courts”. People will be convicted and punished by prosecutors and police if prosecutors or police can persuade them to confess. This is a recipe for abuse.
Magistrate’s courts may not be the most reliable finders of fact or interpreters of law, but they have no direct interest in the guilt of the defendant or in clearing up unsolved crimes. They can and do hear defenses and pleas in mitigation. They can, and very occasionally do, insist on entering a not-guilty plea if the defendant appears to be have been browbeaten or to be incapable of understanding his position.
The inevitable consequence of introducing summary police punishment will be an assertion on behalf of the authorities that those who are convicted at trial instead of submitting to official processing ought to be more heavily punished because they have somehow wasted the court’s time. Which will place the accused under more pressure to make admissions regardless of guilt, regardless of whether prosecutors abuse their position.
As the report stage of the Identity Cards Bill approaches in the Lords, a reminder of one highlight from the first day of the committee stage Hansard, 15 Nov 2005, Col.1012:
This is the sort of rhetoric that makes my blood run cold. Here’s a prefiguring example:
– Benito Mussolini.
Terry Eagleton (from a review of Paxton’s Anatomy of Fascism in the New Statesman) elucidates the connection:
All supporters of the old-fashioned conception of individual liberty, whether they think of themselves as left or right, conservative or progressive, must do what can be done. Resist. We should not expect any quarter for outdated ideas under a new kind of freedom.
[cross-posted to Samizdata]
The Independent has a terrifying story, if there is no public outcry over which, I have no hope for the short-term survival of liberty in Britain. Perhaps it is just our turn to live under totalitarianism, and our children’s and grandchildren’s too (assuming liberati and other anti-social types are permitted to breed in the well-ordered society) …
Read the whole thing here. Then answer me this question: by what right is this power assumed? It is no doubt being done in the name of ‘public safety’, in which case where’s the democratic mandate, and when was parliament asked?
Cross-posted to Samizdata
In other words: “Even if your travel is fully paid for, we still want to know where you are.”
Is it just me, or is the Oyster logo half a pair of handcuffs?
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