So UK police admit illegal stop and search in "Kingsnorth 3" case… so what about the hundreds of thousands of cases we'll never hear about?

Kent Police have finally conceded that their stop and search procedures at the 2008 Kingsnorth power station demo were illegal, and have agreed to pay a (so far undisclosed) sum of money to the three.
In a way, this is a victory – it’s pretty unusual for the police to ever admit they’ve done something wrong. But thousands of protesters were dealt with in a similar fashion, and I doubt very much that any of them will see a single penny of compensation. Protester Sarah Horne told the Guardian:

‘Hundreds of people’s possessions were seized, from walking sticks to crayons to health and safety supplies. ‘Riot police burst onto the site on a number of occasions and started beating people with batons, without warning or provocation.
‘Kent police have offered compensation to three people – but thousands of members of the public were searched, attacked or otherwise harassed at the 2008 Camp. Are Kent Police going to compensate and apologise to them all?’

It was only the tenacity of the “Kingsnorth Three” that ensured the police didn’t get away with their gung-ho approach. And two of those three protesters were children – twins just 11 years old!
The law used by the police to justify the use of stop and search powers requires police officers to have ‘reasonable suspicion’ that an individual is carrying prohibited weapons or articles that could be used to cause criminal damage.
However, during the case, brought against the police by the three protesters, it emerged that police had been conducting a blanket stop and search policy. Kent police now admit that search policy was ‘unlawful’ and ‘should not have happened’. Of course, what they mean is that this policy should never have come to light. The police, and many of their friends in government, would love to make it illegal to demonstrate.
So thousands of protestors were unlawfully detained, searched and physically abused; but only three are to receive compensation. Also, the police conduct at the demo has been characterised as “unlawful”; so police officers broke the law while on duty. It is very probable that these unlawful actions were authorised, even ordered, by senior officers. This needs to be investigated by an impartial commission, and any officers found to have broken the law should be sacked and possibly sent to prison.
There’s an oft-quoted question: “Who watches the watchers?” The answer, of course, is us. The police are entrusted with great power. When they are found to have abused that power, they need to be stamped on. Hard.

Big Brother is watching you… watching him… watching you… watching him…

Seeing that I’m a bit of a shutterbug on the side as well as a tech freak/geek, this little birdy caught my eye:

It’s the DraganFlyer X6, a remote controlled helicopter with camera attached. Any gadget-madmen amongst us must surely salivate at the idea. As will voyeurs, photographers, and voyeuristic photographers. It has a range of 8000 ft, and built-in stabiliser sensors mean you can tell it to hover round while you concentrate on your photographer. The version that the What Digital Camera reporter hot his hands on carries a Panasonic Lumix LX3, though apparently there are 3 others to choose from.
All sounds great, huh? So what’s the catch? £21,585 plus VAT.
But those of us who lack pockets overflowing with gold sovereigns don’t have to sit to one side of the playground, weeping piteously while everyone else wants to hang with the kid with the DraganFlyer. Reading the What Digital Camera article stirred something deep in my memory, and a quick google sussed it out – check out this video from the DefCon 17 archives. And a video google for “quadrotor” turns up a whole bunch of projects where hackers are building remote controlled flying vehicles with live camera connections. A good few of them are autonomous too – meaning they are robotic birds!
Of course the authorities love kit like this… so long as it’s the forces of law and over at the controls. Many countries (the UK included) strictly restrict where and how remote controlled vehicles can be operated. All under the blanket excuse of “safety”. And “security” too, no doubt. Just think of all those terrorists spying on us through our bedroom windows, or delivering bombs to high-rise high-profile targets! OMG I’m terrified!
I certainly do dread the thought of big brother sending out flocks of quadrotors to do their evil bidding. But the mass of detail out there on the interwebs about hackers’ projects to develop the same kind of thing for a much smaller budget makes me feel a little better. In fact, I wouldn’t mind having one of these things for myself. For its photography potential, of course: just think of all those shots that would be otherwise unobtainable… like the flash of claw and fang of a murderous pussycat that mistakes your quadrotor for a quick snack…

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