Category Archives: Police

Free speech and abusive behaviour

Marie Stopes anti-choice protestersThis week, Ealing Council made a landmark legal and political decision: patients entering or leaving the Marie Stopes clinic would be protected from harassment by the creation of a buffer zone, a Public Spaces Protection Order, ensuring that no anti-abortion protesters can set up their signs, hand out their leaflets, or otherwise harass patients seeking treatment.
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Sex work and Amnesty

Amnesty International: In Solidarity, Uphold Human RightsOne of the commonest distortions of the resolution Amnesty International voted on this August is that Amnesty want to make sex work a human right.

What Amnesty International resolved to do

develop a policy that supports the full decriminalization of all aspects of consensual sex work. The policy will also call on states to ensure that sex workers enjoy full and equal legal protection from exploitation, trafficking and violence.

I’d say this distortion from “protect the human rights of sex workers” to “sex work is a human right” was bizarre, except that I have seen similar distortions before, when Amnesty finally agreed that in a very limited set of circumstances (such as pregnancy caused by rape, especially in a war zone) they would treat access to abortion as a human right, and that they would treat healthcare – medical support of a girl or a woman who’s had an illegal abortion and needs treatment – as a human right. That got distorted too.

So, Amnesty International are taking the position that sex work should be decriminalised, in order to protect the human rights of sex workers.
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Police Scotland and the Bannockburn deaths

Loch Earn, Stirlingshire

“I went past the crash, not even 100 yards away from her. If anything happens I’ve got to tell myself that.”

Lamara Bell and her partner John Yuill were visiting Loch Earn, Stirlingshire, in a blue Renault Clio on Sunday: their car went off the road Sunday evening.

An “experienced officer” was called at 11:30pm on Sunday night on the 101 non-emergency number by a member of the public who had spotted the car in which Lamara Bell and her partner John Yuill were lying – Yuill possibly already dead, Bell critically injured – down the embankment off the M9 near Stirling.

The “experienced officer” neither entered the call “into systems” nor sent out any message to operational teams in the area.

Eventually another 101 phonecall about the crashed car finally led police to it, shortly before 10am on Wednesday morning 8th July: but Yuill was dead, and Bell was dying.
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Police accountability

Thirty years ago:

“At one point the police surrounded a coach and it stopped. A woman inside stood up and held her baby up – in a very melodramatic fashion, you wouldn’t normally hold a baby that way for fear of dropping it. But she did. She yelled at the police that there was a baby on board. “There was a pause of about five seconds, then from the back of the police ranks, whistling over our heads came a very large flint that exploded the windscreen over the baby.” Yet that was not the worst thing [the Earl of Cardigan] says he saw that day. “At some point in the crazy melee there was a heavily pregnant woman wandering around. Two policemen came up behind her with batons and clubbed her around the head and shoulders, and down she went.”

Wiltshire PoliceThese were travellers going to the Stonehenge Solstice festival in 1985, attacked by the Wiltshire Police. The police attacked the convoy using “police tactics used in the miners’ strike to prevent a breach of the peace” (such as mounted South Yorkshire Police attacking picketing miners in Orgreave, on 18th June 1984).

Ten years ago, in 2005, Tony Thompson, the Guardian’s crime correspondent, wrote with apparently sincere bafflement:

It remains a mystery why the police felt compelled to use such violence. With evidence that radio logs of conversations between officers on the day have been altered, the full story may never be known.

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Police with guns on patrol? No.

Glock 17On a summer Saturday night in Inverness, a fight broke out between two men outside a fast-food restaurant, and three police officers turned up to stop the trouble.

All three policemen should have been unarmed: that’s the fundamental rule of British policing since 1829. Our police go unarmed except for a concealed truncheon. And that has been the rule for nearly two centuries: firearms are carried as an exception, only on specific occasions when a senior officer decides guns will be necessary.

But each of the three policemen who showed up to stop the fight in Inverness were carrying handguns, identified as Glock 17 semi-automatic pistols.

Police Scotland says that these officers – and 272 others – represent less than 2% of the total force, that armed police officers won’t routinely be patrolling the beat, and that

By having a small number of specialist armed officers available 24 hours a day, seven days a week, this means that if the need does arise, we are ready.

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Cyril Smith and Rochdale

Cyril SmithIn 1962, when Cambridge House in Rochdale was opened to give young men a clean safe place to stay, Cyril Smith was 34, already an important man in the local community, and he seems to have regarded it as his private pleasure centre. The hostel ran from 1962 to 1965, Cyril Smith had keys and could come and go at any time, and was responsible for bringing in several boys to live there who’d been in difficult home situations, often then to work for the local authority, so that Smith would have control both over their jobs and over their home. Continue reading

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Shouting in the street

Josh WilliamsonJosh Williamson is from Brisbane, Australia: he now lives in Perth. Nothing wrong with that: Perth is nice. He’s the new pastor at the Craigie Reformed Baptist Church, induction speaker from Grace Baptist Partnership “Helping Christians Plant Churches”.

The Grace Baptist Partnership doesn’t think much of Scotland:

Those witnessing to urban Scots will be struck by the ‘No Religious Callers’ signs they see at people’s doors. The poor, living on rough housing schemes, refuse to answer. The rich live in apartments with secure entry systems. The elderly reside in care homes where matronly managers prohibit religious visits or literature. The young are predictably fearful of strangers. Many open their doors clutching a phone to their ear; too techno-connected to interface with a person. We live in an isolated society.

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