link to briefings documents at magnacartaplus.org
 

Magna Carta Plus News

back to magnacartaplus.org index page
orientation to the news at MagnaCartaPlus.org

short briefing dcuments at MagnaCartaPlus.org

This page provides occasional items, linked to the original articles, as we attempt to keep up with the rapidly changing situation on civil liberties.
Archive of old news service:
2002 - 2004

1st Jan to 9th Sept 2005

Google
 
Web magnacartaplus.org

Councils get power to seize assets over minor offences

Posted by James Hammerton @ 10:23 am on 31 October, 2009.
Categories democracy and the rule of law, British politics, accountability, culture of suspicion.
Edit This Permalink to this article

The Times Online reports:

The right to search homes, seize cash, freeze bank accounts and confiscate property will be given to town hall officials and civilian investigators employed by organisations as diverse as Royal Mail, the Rural Payments Agency and Transport for London.

The measure, being pushed through by Alan Johnson, the Home Secretary, comes into force next week and will deploy some of the most powerful tools available to detectives against fare dodgers, families in arrears with council tax and other minor offenders.

The radical extension of the Proceeds of Crime Act, through a Statutory Instrument which is not debated by parliament, has been condemned by the chairman of the Police Federation. Paul McKeever said that he was shocked to learn that the decision to hand over “intrusive powers” to people who were not police was made without consultation or debate.

NB: The Proceeds of Crime Act allows police to seize assets from people without having to have them convicted of an offence, they merely need to persuade a judge that, on balance of probability, the assets were acquired “unlawfully”. Assets can be frozen prior to the court proceedings, thus preventing you from using your money to defend yourself.

Photographer threatened with arrest over jet ski photos

Posted by James Hammerton @ 10:05 am on .
Categories British politics, culture of suspicion.
Edit This Permalink to this article

Amateur Photographer reports:

Garry had stopped in a lay-by after seeing a picture opportunity at Glyn Neath Lakes - a watersports centre adjacent to the A465 in South Wales.

He said he had been taking photos from a public area for ‘ten minutes’ when a man claiming to be the lake’s landowner approached. ‘A guy came over and said “stop photographing the children,”‘ said Garry. ‘He said you need permission to take photographs of children.’

The photos sent to Amateur Photographer (AP), clearly taken from a distance, show a man and a boy on the back of a jet ski, both dressed in wetsuits.

The man then complained to police who arrived shortly afterwards. ‘They checked the images on the camera. They were fine. He [the officer] then phoned my employer.’

Police had demanded identification and asked for details of Garry’s employers, a nearby foster carer agency.

Officers also ran his name through a police computer database.

‘Everything checked out fine,’ said Garry who had taken the pictures for his own portfolio and said he did not plan to publish any of them.

The officer then told Garry: ‘If you take another picture you will be arrested for, at the least, breach of the peace [under the Public Order Act].’

AP understands that concerns had been raised because there were children changing, into wetsuits, near the lake which is used for ‘youth engagement activity’.

However, Garry told us that he was not aware of children changing nearby. He said he could only see the lake and the treeline from where he was standing.

Garry added that, at the time, this matter had not been raised by the landowner, or the police officer who was called to the scene.

Papieres Bitte!

Posted by James Hammerton @ 11:05 am on 12 August, 2009.
Categories privacy and surveillance, British politics, culture of suspicion.
Edit This Permalink to this article

Further to the earlier article on the tactics being used in the run up to the Labour party conference in Brighton, The Daily Express reports:

Squads of officers will carry out door-to-door interviews to weed out potential threats to the Labour Party Conference in Brighton next month.

Home owners and workers will have to produce passports, birth certificates, driving licences, proof of employment, and even provide the names of referees to show they are of good character.

They will also be quizzed on their religion to see if they have connections with Muslim fanatics. Critics said the “Gestapo” tactics were another sign that Britain is lurching towards an autocratic state.

Note the pretext is that the Labour conference is a potential target for terrorism (yet it’d be simple for a terrorist to evade these checks). Similar logic could be used to justify random checks of homes and workplaces within the vicinity of other potential targets such as tourist attractions, public buildings, shopping centres, train stations, indeed anywhere where large crowds of people gather.

Brighton residents face ID checks at home in run up to Labour conference

From The Argus:

During the conference, from September 27 to October 1, police will seal off a secure ‘island site’ around the Brighton Centre, Hilton Metropole, Grand Hotel and Russell Road car park.

But residents and workers further afield will also have to prove who they are.

Police working with Brighton and Hove City Council have already sent letters to businesses and homes around the conference centre which will be affected by Operation Otter.

Officers will visit homes and ask residents to show an identity document like a passport of driving licence, as well as confirming their address with a bank statement or utility bill.

The names will then be checked against the police national computer to check whether they are wanted or suspected of terrorism.

What if one of the residents has no passport and no driving licence with them?

Metropolitan Police propaganda poster fosters suspicion

Posted by James Hammerton @ 3:45 pm on 21 March, 2009.
Categories British politics, culture of suspicion.
Edit This Permalink to this article

Spy Blog writes:

Presumably Miles Calcraft Briginshaw Duffy are at least partly to blame for the current Metropolitan Police Service anti-terrorism advertising campaign launched today.

This campaign includes this false and misleading poster, which claims a non existent link between public CCTV and protection against terrorist bombs:

“A bomb won’t go off here because weeks before a shopper reported someone studying the CCTV cameras”

There is no evidence that any Islamic extremist or Irish terrorists or Animal Rights extremists or neo-Nazi extremists, who have exploded, or tried to explode bombs, or set off incendiary devices, have been deterred from doing so by the presence of CCTV cameras. Some may have been tracked down partially through the help of CCTV footage, after their attacks or attempted attacks, but that is not what this poster is implying.

There is no evidence that any of them who have actually had access to any explosives, have ever been caught in the act of “terrorist reconnaissance” of CCTV cameras, neither by members of the public (which is what this poster misleadingly claims), nor by regular Police street patrols, nor even by any covert surveillance of known suspects.

Since you do not need any equipment to check out where public CCTV cameras are, just your eyes and your memory, it is unlikely that any real terrorism or criminal reconnaissance of CCTV camera systems will ever be detected in the way that this poster implies.

This poster is just Climate of Fear propaganda, and it will no doubt be used to justify the harassment of photographers taking photos, perfectly legally in public places, which have been infested with CCTV spy cameras, something for which there is plenty of evidence for.

Trial of CCTV cameras that also listen in Glasgow

Posted by James Hammerton @ 6:03 pm on 15 February, 2009.
Categories privacy and surveillance, British politics, accountability, culture of suspicion.
Edit This Permalink to this article

BBC News in Scotland reports:

But teaching a computer system to recognise the specific characteristics of aggression has taken more than a decade, building on research at the University of Groningen.

Bram Kuipers explains how the system operates

Sound Intelligence say Sigard is able to discriminate between the sound of aggression and other, everyday loud noises like passing trucks and car horns.

Kuipers demonstrated this by clapping his hands. A display screen noted the sounds but took no action. Then he shouted aggressively. This time an alarm sounded and a CCTV camera spun round to look directly at the source of the shouting.

Such systems are already in everyday use on the streets of several Dutch towns and cities. The company said it also has uses in potential flashpoints like prisons and benefits offices.

There are hopes eventually to sell Sigard in other markets - hence the Glasgow trial.

“We installed a couple of microphones in one of the main streets of Glasgow,” Kuipers said.

“It’s working. We detected aggression and it’s currently under evaluation.”

Britain’s war on photography

Posted by James Hammerton @ 11:44 pm on 13 February, 2009.
Categories political liberties, democracy and the rule of law, British politics, culture of suspicion.
Edit This Permalink to this article

For some time now I’ve been gathering stories regarding the harassment and general suspicion of photographers in Britain. Note that the basic position in law is that it is perfectly legal in Britain to take photographs in public streets (though some erosion of this is occuring under “anti-terror” laws), yet it seems to me that photographers are increasingly finding themselves challenged by both the police and other officials.

A further issue is that people photographing or videoing protests are increasingly being obstructed or harassed by the police, as are the protestors themselves.

Finally, on February 16th a new law comes into force that the police may use to prevent people filming or taking photos of them. A mass protest against this law and the harassment of photographers has been organised for 11am on this date.

Below is a selection of various stories illustrating the problem, including some stories related to the legal situation and official campaigns that fuel suspicion about photographers:
(more…)

Local councils adopting “Allegations Management Systems”

Posted by James Hammerton @ 5:56 pm on 13 September, 2008.
Categories privacy and surveillance, British politics, the database state, culture of suspicion.
Edit This Permalink to this article

The Telegraph recently reported:

Local authorities around the country are setting up databases to hold records of accusations made about anyone from teachers and doctors to Scout leaders and private tutors.

They are employing staff just to look into the claims - which can be made anonymously - who are required to contact police, social services or the adult’s employer and then keep track of the case.

Details of the allegation will be kept on the accused’s personnel file until they retire so they can be seen by potential employers, and in a reversal of the basic tenet of English law they will only be deemed innocent if they can prove it.

The system was introduced in the wake of the Soham murders to make sure authorities keep track of anyone suspected of child abuse.

But critics claim it gives too much power to unaccountable council officers, creates extra red tape for bosses and will lead to innocent professionals having their careers blighted by malicious allegations.

They also warn it will drive people - particularly men - out of working with children for fear of being labelled a paedophile. Already just 2 per cent of teachers of the youngest primary school pupils are male.

It comes on top of the new vetting system being implemented for everyone who works with under-16s, the Independent Safeguarding Authority, which will lead to 11.3 million adults having their backgrounds checked.

The Pub Philosopher also reports on this.

So if you work with children, you’ll work in a world where one anonymous allegation made against you can, even if groundless, haunt you for the rest of your working career (of possibly ‘just’ a decade if the Pub Philosopher is correct), as it’ll be kept on file, shared with employers, social services and the police. This is in addition to the requirement of everyone working with children to undergo mandatory criminal records checks.

Thus the culture of suspicion marches on.

Telegraph: Council officials told to question adults in public park without children

Posted by James Hammerton @ 9:53 pm on 9 September, 2008.
Categories political liberties, freedom of speech, British politics, culture of suspicion.
Edit This Permalink to this article

Update: UK Liberty has some good commentary on this story.

Fancy going for a stroll in a public park? Apparently, if you do so in the Telford and Wreckin council area, and fail to bring any children with you, you may find yourself questioned about what you’re doing and asked to leave, ostensibly in order to protect children from paedophiles. The Telegraph reports:

The policy came to light after two environmental campaigners dressed as penguins were thrown out of Telford Town Park when caught handing out leaflets on climate change.

Rachel Whittaker and Neil Donaldson, of the Wrekin Stop War pressure group, were told they had to leave the park because they had not undergone Criminal Records Bureau checks or risk assessments before being allowed near children.

David Ottley, Telford & Wrekin’s sports and recreation manager, said in a letter to them: “Our Town Park staff approach adults that are not associated with any children in the Town Park and request the reason for them being there.”

“In particular, this applies to those areas where children or more vulnerable groups gather, such as play facilities and the entrances to play areas.”

However Miss Whittaker, 34, said: “I’m outraged that my concern for the planet and for the future of all children can be turned into petty bureaucracy.

“It is dangerous as well as frightening people, it could start a hysterical society and punishes people who have done nothing wrong while giving an outlet for those with sinister motives a way of getting around it.

“I think they are reacting to what was is essence an expression to public expression of free speech - and how many child molesters dress up as penguins anyway?”

And so the culture of suspicion marches on…

« Previous Page

email feedback@magnacartaplus.org

© magnacartaplus.org2008, 2007, 2006 [1 December]

variable words
prints as variable A4 pages (on my printer and set-up)

abstracts of documents on magnacartaplus.org UK Acts of Parliament click for news from magnacartaplus.org orientation to magnacartaplus.org orientation button links to other relevant sites links

Powered by WordPress