Wooh! No plans to deploy water cannons on the streets of England… for now.

Well, Theresa May, the UK Home Secretary, has rule out the use of water cannon in the policing of student protests, saying there was no legal authority for their use on the streets of England and Wales. But the overall message was clear: May has no plans to use water cannons right now; but circumstances change, and police tactics must also change to deal with the ever-evolving problems.
Look what Commander Bob Broadhurst, the head of Scotland Yard’s public order branch, had to say on the matter after May’s speech:

“There has been a great deal of speculation over the weekend about the Met using water cannons. There are no current plans to use water cannons on the streets of the capital but we would be foolish if we did not take time to look at tactics such as this to see if it might be appropriate in the future.

In other words: the water cannons are on their way. Get ready for a soaking, boys and girls.
May also took the opportunity to blame the violence on an “organised group of hardcore activists and street gangs” who had infiltrated the protests. Government ministers always do this: they say the majority of demonstrators are there for a good time, but a hardcore of evil anarchists and street gangsters turn peaceful demonstrations into warzones.

“Some students behaved disgracefully. But the police also assess that the protests were infiltrated by organised groups of hardcore activists and street gangs bent on violence.
Evidence from the other recent protests shows that many of those causing violence were organised thugs, as well as students. It is highly likely that this was also the case last week,” she said.

May made mention of the attack on the Duchess of Cornwall (the adulterous “whore” who shagged Prince Charles while he was still married to Diana – remember that awful recorded phone conversation in whch he said he’d like to be Camilla’s tampon? Ugh!): she said “some contact [was] made” when the Duchess of Cornwall was struck through the window of her royal car (ie she got a well-deserved slap). The Metropolitan police inquiry into the attack on the car carrying Prince Charles and Camilla is due to report by this Friday but May warned that, for security reasons, the public details of the report are likely to be limited. No pix of the ugly woman’s war wounds then. Shame!
May revealed that 35 people had been arrested so far and expected the number to rise significantly. So far the mugshots of 14 of “key perpetrators of violence” have been published. The Met are to continue to publish pictures of other key individuals over the next week. All very interesting. But what about the police officers who used excessive violence and concealed their identification numbers? After the police actions that led to the death of Ian Tomlinson (an innocent passerby, not a demonstrator or rioter), Met police commissioner Sir Paul Stephenson said it was “absolutely unacceptable” for officers to cover or remove their shoulder tags bearing identification numbers. Yet a number of officers at this latest “riot” were seen with ID numbers concealed – look at this Youtube video. And what about the cop who slugged Alfie Meadows across the head with a truncheon – an attack that left Alfie needing emergency brain surgery. Will a mugshot of the offending officer be posted on the internet? Of course not: May used the standard cop-out answer when asked about this. She said that she was unable to comment as the Independent Police Complaints Commission had begun an investigation into the incident that had left him seriously injured.Yeah right.
May even defended the controversial “kettling” tactic, where police officers in full riot gear and armed with long batons corner groups of demonstrators and hem them in, even refusing to release peaceful demonstrators with major health problems. Even little children and old-age pensioners are forced to stay in the “kettle”. One woman asked a cop where she was supposed to go if she needed the toilet. The leering swine pointed down at the road surface in front of him.
It’s hard to blame individual officers: after all, they are merely following orders issued from on high. Then again, it’s very easy to blame those bobbies: they chose to join the force; they chose to obey the evil orders.
A little advice for those among you who might attend a demo where the water cannons are brought out: make sure you take with you a nice, dry set of clothes in a waterproof bag. When the filth shoot you with water, they’re hoping that you’ll become cold and dis-spirited and piss off home. If you go change into something dry then come back to continue demonstrating/rioting/whatever, the cops will become very confused. Remember, most cops are thick as pig shit (why else would they join up?); when faced with a situatuion that their orders don’t cover, most will just walk in ever-decreasing circles until they disappear up their own bottoms. So don’t let the assholes scare you. Believe me, they are probably more scared of you.

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G20 "murder cop" to face misconduct charges over Ian Tomlinson death

Doubtless some of you will remember that on 1 April the G20 meeting of the world’s economic superpowers was held in London.  Such an event requires heavy policing, to protect the delegates and their cronies from evil demonstrators.  And on that day, a man named Ian Tomlinson died as a direct result of police action.
Unfortunately for the police, a couple of circumstances surrounding the death quickly came to light: the entire episode was caught on CCTV; and Tomlinson was not a demonstrator, he was a newspaper seller trying to get home after a hard day’s work.
The police officer who attacked Tomlinson, PC Simon Harwood of the Metropolitan Police’s infamous Tactical Support Unit, is not going to face criminal proceedings related to the killing of Ian Tomlinson – this despite the fact that Harwood’s unprovoked attack on Tomlinson from behind is clearly visible on the many videos that have been posted on the internet (for example here.  There are plenty of other examples online, as even a cursory Google search will find).
But even though Harwood isn’t going to see a court room from the “wrong” (or should that be “right”?) side of the dock, it has been announced that he will face a Police Complaints Commission into his alleged misconduct during the attack.  During the brutal attack, Harwood wore a balaclava to hide his face, and had concealed his badge number – all signs that he knew he was doing something wrong.
The PCC decision to accuse Harwood of misconduct equivalent to manslaughter is likely to place additional pressure on Keir Starmer, the director of public prosecutions, who controversially decided the officer should not even be prosecuted for assault.  Now Starmer will have to explain why he decided that Harwood should not be punished for what was undoubtedly an illegal attack.
The way Harwood has been protected up to this point has sent a very clear message to other coppers: they can be as brutal as they want, even up to the point of murder, and the establishment will protect them.  Now I just hope that the misconduct hearings are held in a properly transparent manner, so other bully-boy cops will learn from this experience.  No one is above the law – especially the police.

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Police want to set themselves above the law

Worrying story here:  Sir Paul Stephenson, Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police and the most senior police officer in Britain, has been secretly lobbying the government to make it harder to take police officers to court.
Stephenson says the move is necessary to stop public money from filling lawyers’ pockets, so the police can spend it on more important stuff, like CCTV cameras and expensive lunches, instead.
But human rights lawyers and civil liberties groups don’t believe him.  Most court actions against the police are for wrongful arrest and brutality.  So opponents to the plan say it’s just a ruse to set the police above the law.
If Stephenson’s idea is taken up, it will be much harder for poorer people to take action when the police do something wrong to them.  One law for the rich, another for the poor.  Some might say “So what?  That’s how things work right now.”  And that isn’t wrong.  But the possible threat of legal action is just about the only thing keeping the police under any sort of control.  The police will be able to do anything they like.  Goddamn pigs.
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Police officer jailed for 6 months. Is that all?!!

Sorry about this: the story is a few days old now, but I didn’t know about it until yesterday.  So here we are – let’s get on with it.
A woman called Pamela Somerfield was arrested for sleeping in her car.  She was sleeping there because she’d had a row with her boyfriend.  But that’s irrelevant.  It isn’t illegal to sleep in a car in the UK; but she wasn’t subsequently questioned or charged with anything, so that must be why she got pulled.
During her stay at Melksham police station, Wiltshire, Somerfield was a bit naughty, at one point she “slipped out of her cell” (how did she manage that?  Was she so thin she could slide under the door?).  Anyway, this made custody sergeant Mark Andrews very cross indeed.  So cross that he dragged Ms Somerfield by the hair through the custody suite and hurled her head first into her cell.  Her head hit the concrete floor so hard that an ambulance had to be called. On the way to hospital, blood began to put from her nose.  While in the ambulance she really thought she was going to die.
Andrews’ attack on Ms Somerfield was caught on CCTV.  You can see an edited version here.
One of Andrews’ colleagues reported the incident, after which Andrews was suspended on full pay pending the court decision.  He has now been sent to jail for 6 months.
I have a few problems with this outcome:
1.  You can see clearly on the CCTV footage that there were several police officers present during the attack.  So how come only one officer reported him?  I think the other officers should be sent to jail themselves (unlikely) or at least fired (also unlikely…).
2.  Why only ABH? And why only 6  months?  The prosecution could easily have charged Andrews with a more serious offense, which would have been kicked up to crown court automatically and given the judge the power to dish out a much more serious sentence.
3. Why was Andrews suspended on full pay?  What kind of message is that meant to say to the public?  “Don’t mess with us.  Cos we’re the police and we can get away with anything!”  That’s the message I’m picking up here.
I think that all police officers found guilty of a crime should be punished to the full extent of the law.  Maybe introduce a new law that mandates a jail sentence of at least five years for cops who break the law.  Who agrees with me?

Photography != Terrorism… no matter *what* they say!!

I don’t think I’ve ever mentioned this before: but I’m a keen amateur photographer. In the olden days, when photographers still used film, I had a succession of Pentax cameras: an ME Super, a Program A, and I still have a SF7. But film is old hat nowadays, we all use digital; and I couldn’t afford a digital SLR, so for now I’m using a Fujifilm S5700 “bridge” camera. Still, it’s okay for my favourite types of photography: landscape, architectural, and its small size maks it grrreat for street photography.
Unfortunately, photography in general and street photography in particular are in real trouble here in the UK. Why? Because the police have got it into their heads that photographers are all potential terrorists!
I’m not sure, but I think this paranoid delusion first took hold when the police found photos of “potential targets” in the belongings of terror suspects. Individual officers were told to keep an eye out for photographers both overt and covert as they might be performing reconnaissance for an attack. This has resulted in street and architectural photographers being harrassed, searched and detained by police and community support officers, chiefly in London but also in other towns and cities.
The UK magazine Amateur Photographer has been running a campaign to defend our rights since 2005, when police persecution of photographers first became apparent. There’s a nice article on the AP website that runs through the campaign, starting with Roy Jhuboo who was stopped and searched by overzealous officers when he was out and about taking photos in Limehouse, East London. The police told Jhuboo that he’d been searched because “he could have been on a reconnaissance mission to launch a ‘rocket’ on nearby Canary Wharf.” Two police vans full of officers were sent to intercept him because he had been seen taking a photo of a house!
Since AP began their campaign in 2005, government figures have sought to reassure us that photographers in general are not being targetted. And both the government and ACPO (the Association of Chief Police Officers) have publicly issued advice saying that photographers should not be bothered unless there are good grounds for suspicion. Yet every week there are more stories in the magazine telling how photographers have been stopped, searched, even arrested by police for no more reason than taking photos in public places. The City of London Police even told AP that anyone taking photos in central London should expect searches and demands for identification, even though this directly goes against the guidance all forces have received from the government and ACPO on this subject.
Opposition to the police stance on photographers is wide-spread and growing. MPs who are also enthusiastic photographers have raised the subject in Parliament. Professional photographers working for the media have got the issue in the news. But the harrassment continues. I would ask all photographers to support Amateur Photographer in its campaign to defend our rights. It is gradually becoming acceptable in the eyes of the police and some members of the public. We need to stop this! We need to reinforce the fact that we have the right to take photos in public places. We must not allow the police and their political masters to create a climate in which innocent photography can be banned.

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Taser! Taser! Taser! UK Police taser and beat defenceless man

Have you seen this?? Police officers in Nottingham, England, effecting an arrest. In the old days, they’d have had nothing but truncheons to batter their prisoner with. But the past decade or so has seen our boys in blue tooled up with all sorts of wonderful weaponary. Long batons, CS spray, tasers – they’ve got the lot. And here you can see them putting some of this equipment to good use.

The guy’s on the floor, having been tasered. When you’re shot with a taser, your muscles go into involuntary spasms. So he’s on the floor, arms and legs jerking, as happens when you’ve been electrocuted. But the copper decides this movement is resisting arrest. He and his colleagues try to pin the poor sod down, but his limbs are still in spasm. So the heroic Taser Cop shoots him again. Then all the coppers lay into their victim… I mean prisoner.
The way Taser Cop shouts “Taser! Taser! Taser” when he shoots the poor guy – it’s like the policeman thinks he’s on TV. Which he was, a short time later. Jeez, don’t go to Nottingham. Unless you like being electrocuted and beaten…