UK Liberty

Merry Christmas!

Posted in Uncategorized by ukliberty on December 22, 2008

Merry Christmas to all my readers, and a Happy New Year also.

Right to privacy vs. safety

Posted in database state, law and order by ukliberty on December 22, 2008

Good article by Lee Griffin at Liberal Conspiracy:

The right to a private and family life, it seems like such a simple request does it not? Yet it is taken for granted, and is a right that is readily abolished by our government and other agencies to ensure our “safety”. Are we really living in a world where we cannot be safe without giving up our right to a private life? Thankfully a couple of recent decisions, regarding the holding of DNA on a national DNA database and of being retained on the sex offenders register indefinitely, have had a huge impact on restoring the value to the Article 8 right of the ECHR. …

And of course he isn’t suggesting there shouldn’t be such a register at all.  That is what people such as Jacqui Smith would like you to think about people who raise such things for discussion: that if you are against how a particular system operates you are against all such systems.

Seeing things in such black and white terms is the the province of simpletons and the dishonest, and those who haven’t spent any time thinking about it.

What Lee is asking about is its necessity, its proportionality, what the possibilities are for review, how it distinguishes between offences and offenders, and so on.  All valid questions that to date have not been asked, let alone answered, by the Government – which merely states that it is ‘disappointed’ by any ruling that challenges them to answer such questions.  (They were also ‘disappointed’ by S & Marper.)

Although I disagree with this:

The reality is that these are issues the Home Office and our government need to start backing down on if they want to even have a peak at the chance of winning a fourth term.

Sadly, civil liberties aren’t among the important issues at election time.

Of course law and order is an important issue, but more in terms of how the political parties are trusted to deal with crime and criminals, rather than their policies on fingerprint and DNA databases, or monitoring our communications, etc.


Counter-terrorism head shoots himself in the foot

Posted in law and order by ukliberty on December 22, 2008

The BBC:

The head of Britain’s counter-terror squad has apologised “unreservedly” to the Conservative Party.

Met Police Assistant Commissioner Bob Quick claimed on Sunday the party had mobilised the press against him.

But on Monday he said he had reflected on his comments and apologised “for any offence or embarrassment” caused.

(SpyBlog has a lot more detail than appears in the news, Daily Mail excepted.)

Bailiffs to be given new powers

Posted in database state, law and order by ukliberty on December 22, 2008

The Times:

The government has been accused of trampling on individual liberties by proposing wide-ranging new powers for bailiffs to break into homes and to use “reasonable force” against householders who try to protect their valuables.

I think the “reasonable force” bit is the new power, they can already break into homes (it says later).

Under the regulations, bailiffs for private firms would for the first time be given permission to restrain or pin down householders.

And will householders have the right to use force in self-defence or are they expected to lie down and take it?

They would also be able to force their way into homes to seize property to pay off debts, such as unpaid credit card bills and loans.

The government, which wants to crack down on people who evade debts, says the new powers would be overseen by a robust industry watchdog. However, the laws are being criticised as the latest erosion of the rights of the householder in his own home. …

It emerged last week that Her Majesty’s Courts Service has already handed out guidance to privately employed bailiffs, pointing out that under legislation passed in 2004 they can already break down doors as a last resort to collect court fines. …

It is claimed these powers are already abused. In one case, an 89-year-old grandmother returned home to find a bailiff sitting in her chair having drawn up a list of her possessions. He was pursuing a parking fine owed by her son, who did not even live at the address.

As an aside, earlier this year I received a letter from a bailiff that claimed I owed the gas company nearly £4,000 (for a quarter!) and that the debt had been passed to him for collection.  Of course, it was the first I had heard of the debt. Not only that, but I couldn’t get in touch with the bailiff as there was a typo on his mobile phone number and no other contact details.  It turned out that there had been a snafu at the gas company and with the bailiff’s typing.  I was also caught up this, at a previous property. Nothing to hide, nothing to fear, eh?

What is necessary and proportionate about this?

(see also Chicken Turkey Yoghurt.)

We’re all in for a shock

Posted in law and order by ukliberty on December 22, 2008

Boom boom.

The Independent:

Daniel Sylvester can’t forget the night the police fired 50,000 volts of electricity into his skull. The 46-year-old grandfather owns his own security business, and he was recently walking down the street when a police van screeched up to him.

He didn’t know what they wanted, but obeyed when they told him to approach slowly. “I then had this incredible jolt of pain on the back of my head,” he explains. The electricity made him spasm; as he fell to the ground, he felt his teeth scatter on the tarmac and his bowels open. “Then they shot me again in the head. I can’t describe the pain.” (Another victim says it is “like someone reached into my body to rip my muscles apart with a fork.”) The police then saw he was not the person they were looking for, said he was free to go, and drove off.

This did not happen in Egypt or Saudi Arabia or any other country notorious for using electro-shock weapons. It happened in north London and, if the Home Secretary, Jacqui Smith, has her way, it will be coming soon to a street near you.

Of course there is an ongoing inquiry by the IPCC and Met Professional Standards Directorate…

This is really important:

Far from lowering violence, Tasers seem to lower the threshold that by which the police resort to violence …

Or, in Sylvester’s case, no violence at all (allegedly).

Anyone remember Nicholas Gaubert? Quite what the threat was that he posed that could be obviated by a Taser, I really don’t know…

And, as Henry Porter asks, when was the debate?