UK Liberty

Playing to the gallery on ‘self-defence’

Posted in law and order, relates to ordinary people by ukliberty on December 24, 2009

Tories and Labour playing to the gallery, I think.

Mr Johnson said he was sure Justice Secretary Jack Straw would look again at the law on householders’ right to defend themselves against intruders, despite previous reviews that have resulted in no change to the legal position. He was speaking after Chris Grayling, the shadow home secretary, promised a review of the legislation if the Conservatives won the next election to “provide the right level of protection for householders”.

Mr Johnson said he was sure Justice Secretary Jack Straw would look again at the law on householders’ right to defend themselves against intruders, despite previous reviews that have resulted in no change to the legal position.

He was speaking after Chris Grayling, the shadow home secretary, promised a review of the legislation if the Conservatives won the next election to “provide the right level of protection for householders”.
Mr Grayling told the Sunday Telegraph:

“At the moment the law allows a defendant to use ‘reasonable force’ to protect him or herself, their family or their property. Conservatives argue that the defence that the law offers a householder should be much clearer, and that prosecutions and convictions should only happen in cases where courts judge the actions involved to be ‘grossly disproportionate’.”

Mr Hussain was jailed for 30 months last week after being found guilty of causing grievous bodily harm by intent.

The 53-year-old businessman and his brother pursued three intruders who had tied up and threatened to kill his family in their Buckinghamshire home. They caught one of the men and beat him with a cricket bat so hard that the bat broke and the intruder was left with brain damage.

Judge John Reddihough noted Hussain’s “courage” but said he carried out a “dreadful, violent attack” on the intruder as he lay defenceless. … [also see the Guardian]

I suspect any future review will come to the same conclusions as those prior to it: you can use reasonable force, you’ll probably have a bit of leeway in terms of actions taken in the ‘heat of the moment’, but you aren’t allowed to use excessive force.


Merry Christmas from the UK Border Agency

Posted in law and order, propaganda, stupid, surveillance society by ukliberty on December 24, 2009

London Review Blog (hat-tip Andrew Watson):

Christmas, if you do it, is supposed to be about ‘good will toward men’. It’s from Luke 2, just before the angels appear and the shepherds head for the manger. Every year fair numbers of people manage a gesture that rises to the occasion. Still, in a humbug mood you can imagine the card that says ‘Tiny Tim’s still on crutches. Have a good one’ or ‘This Christmas I’ll be eating for higher sea levels’ or ‘We’ve introduced ID cards for foreign nationals. Season’s Greetings.’ Did I say imagine? Here’s the Christmas card the UK Border Agency has been sending out to, among others, lawyers and charities working with asylum seekers and refugees. Run your eye up and down the pretty tree to find ‘controlling the flow of migration’ or ‘biometric fingerprinting for visa applicants’ etc (you can click on it for a larger image).


A handy guide for photographers

Posted in law and order, relates to ordinary people, state-citizen relationship, stupid by ukliberty on December 14, 2009

Less than a week after Chief Constable Andy Trotter emailed all the police authorities in England and Wales to say that “Officers and PCSOs are reminded that we should not be stopping and searching people for taking photos”, police stopped and searched some  people for taking photos.

John Band has some Legal guidelines for photographers in England and Wales.

Ignorance or mendacity?

Posted in database state, DNA database, ID Cards, law and order, politicians on liberty, propaganda by ukliberty on December 8, 2009

(hat-tip Andrew Watson)

Today the Government published its response to the report commissioned by the Joseph Rowntree Reform Trust on the Database State.

I’m reading the response and will update this post as I wade through it.

So far it can be summed up as “The Government doesn’t do anything wrong.”


I have that familiar but confusing sensation of being simultaneously amused and slightly frustrated.

Their comments on the effectiveness of the DNA database and eBorders are cases in point: there are no stats relating to convictions but examples of individual cases are, as usual, held up as proof that these are worthwhile, necessary and proportionate systems to have.


The ‘Database State’ report suggested that there was ‘little evidence of effectiveness’ of UKBA systems. However, the following case studies illustrate some of the benefits of e-Borders and outline some of the different ways the data can be used: [synopsis of three cases]

That’s it! There is nothing else offered to refute the claim that there is “little evidence of effectiveness”. Nothing. Possibly because there is little evidence of effectiveness.


ID cards

The [Database State] report also noted ‘the growing public opposition to ID cards’ as part of the explanation for a red rating but there was no reference to support this suggestion – the majority of public opinion polls over the past five years have shown that the majority of people support identity cards and recent research has shown a consistent level of support for the National Identity Scheme of around 60%.

OK, it appears to be a bit remiss of the authors of Database State not to substantiate their claim here. But it seems to me any follower of the polls would, if he is honest, suggest there does indeed appear to be growing opposition to and declining support for ID cards.

Plot, for example, the results made available in table form by Polling Report:

What I hope you can see (and I’m sorry if it isn’t clear enough, do let me know) is that I’ve plotted the results of the polls over time for TNS/Home Office polls.  Looking at a particular poll result over time – the result for ‘support ID cards’, for example.  This is the pink line, to which I have added a dotted red line to show the linear trend.  It is clearly in decline over time.  Look too at the cyan (light blue) line, which represents the Home Office poll’s result for ‘oppose ID cards’. The dotted turquoise line represents the linear trend.  Opposition is clearly growing over time. And remember, this is the Home Office’s own poll.

And have a look at the TNS report from June 2009:

Support for the service has decreased this wave, with only 56% agreeing strongly or slightly with the plan. This continues the general downtrend in levels of support over time.

The results for ICM/NO2ID polls tell a similar story: decline in support, growth in opposition.

(Note: the ballpark percentages for and against differ between the polls because of the different methodology – there is a much closer gap in the ICM/NO2ID results.  Also, I haven’t plotted ‘don’t know’ or ‘undecided’)

Incidentally, TNS/Home Office changed the methodology of their poll since (and including) their February poll.  They inserted this new question:

Q.1a How concerned or worried are you about protecting yourself against identity theft?

Before this question:

Q.1 Are you aware of the Government introducing a national identity scheme, which includes the Identity Card?

This could explain the jump in support (regardless, support remains in decline).

Why is photography still a problem?

Posted in control freakery, law and order, relates to ordinary people, stupid by ukliberty on December 7, 2009

John Ozimek at the Register:

The government’s own anti-terror advisor, Lord Carlile of Berriew, believes that the police are over-using and misusing anti-terror laws to crack down on photographers. …

Craig Mackey, speaking for the Association of Chief Police Officers on this issue, blamed lack of awareness by officers as to how best to use “complex” legislation. He said: “It goes back to the issue of briefing and training of staff and making sure they are clear around the legislation we are asking them to use.” …

Apparently there is an “internal urban myth” that photography is not allowed in particular areas.  This is despite the fact that “there are no powers prohibiting the taking of photographs, film or digital images in a public place.”

The fear, expressed within the ranks of senior police officers, is that a backlash against perceived heavy-handedness could lead to members of the public becoming more aware of their rights, less co-operative, and ultimately far more difficult to police.

Although the focus of public debate is currently on photographers being stopped and searched under terror legislation, the issue goes far wider and highlights a growing confusion both on the part of police and public as to what police may do – and when they may do it. …

It is hard enough for the public to keep abreast of this maze of legislation – and therefore not at all surprising if some police forces are also unable to keep their officers fully trained in the nuances of the law.

I take the point but this seems the wrong way round – surely the police ought to be more aware of the law than the public.

In any case, we (society) do have a hard time navigating our way through the ridiculous amount of legislation that has been churned out in recent years.  But it’s odd that this was not nipped in the bud far sooner – i.e. when the first photographer was stopped for doing something perfectly normal and reasonable and lawful.

What’s interesting to me as well is the question as to why people invent these “internal urban myths” – e.g. photography in s44 areas is not allowed – in the first place.

Perhaps it is because their superiors provide a fertile environment in which such ideas may flourish?