Thu, 25 May 2006

Innocent in London - Notes from MPA meeting

Some notes from the Metropolitan Police Authority (MPA) meeting.


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Wed, 24 May 2006

Is the UK a police state? - CCTV surveillance and DNA

Update to the laundry list of factoids to help everyone realise what has been happening in the UK. I've put in bold some of Britain's success stories: CCTV surveillance and DNA collection. Some new information from a very interesting article on the BBC: Cannes director urges CCTV debate. Completely unrelated news: the membership of Liberty has reached a new high.


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MPA full Authority meeting tomorrow

Apparently Sir Ian Blair, the Met Commissioner, will be at the full Authority meeting as well. Will he use this opportunity to apologise? This would be a welcome surprise.

I prepared a response to the response:

As ‘The Metropolitan Police Authority (MPA) does not consider the Metropolitan Police Service (MPS) to have overreacted to the horrific terrorist attacks’ of last July 2005, and that ‘the MPS response in terms of both disaster-management and investigation has drawn respect and recognition from around the world’ we have an essential disagreement. If the MPA finds the MPS is doing a perfect job in respect to its anti-terrorism response then a discussion on how it can be improved is not possible.

This satisfaction can not be shared by all Londoners when there are so many stop and searches under Section 44(2) of the Terrorism Act 2000, and subsequent arrests of innocent Londoners. This does not make us any more secure but does impact the lives of Londoners.

Even Sir Ian Blair, the Metropolitan Police Commissioner, appears to disagree with MPA's assessment. He is reported by Bloomberg to have said at the MPA's own 'Together Against Terror?' conference last December: ‘London police have arrested 130 suspects since suicide bomb attacks in July, yet the threat of terrorism continues to increase’.

That's more than all the arrests, whether in connection with terrorism or not, resulting from stop and searches conducted under Section 44(2) during the combined financial years 2003/4 and 2004/5 (the Met arrested 125 persons during this period according to the Statistics on Race and the Criminal Justice System). And that's only for five months.

Former Home Office criminologist and visiting professor at Kent University, Professor Marian Fitzgerald mentioned on BBC One, on 22 January 2006, that ‘under the Terrorism Stop and search [legislation], the arrest rate there is only 1% and very few of these arrests are anything to do with terrorism.

This shows that that the MPS must work more effectively with more intelligence instead of stopping, searching and arresting Londoners, without reasonable cause, on the basis of a stereotypical profiling.

How can the MPA be satisfied that the MPS keeping DNA samples, fingerprints and palm prints of innocents forever, and PNC records, including mentions of non-conviction, until the Londoner reaches 100 years old increases our security.

The MPA is to be commended on getting the MPS to publish statistics such as the Statistics on Race and the Criminal Justice System. May I suggest the MPA puts further pressure on the MPS for the statistics to be published earlier and to include the number of arrestees being tried and how many are convicted.

The MPA's 'Together Against Terror?' conference was I'm sure a very interesting. It is unfortunate that its existence was announced by a press release only three days earlier and that the selection of the over 150 (100 in the press release) community members has not been open and transparent. I couldn't find transcripts or videos of the event, either. Hopefully lessons have been learned from organising this event and the forthcoming events will be more open to Londoners.

I am disapointed that your response has not convinced me that ‘in counter-terrorism, as in all other fields of policing, the MPA remains committed to securing an effective, efficient and fair police service for all of London's communities.

I'll have three minutes to cover all these points. I'll update the story after the event.

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Wed, 17 May 2006

Innocent in London - Question to the MPA

My written question to the Metropolitan Police Authority (MPA) has been published, with a proposed response, in the agenda of the May 25 full Authority meeting. More...

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Mon, 15 May 2006

Innocent in London - A more positive entry

How several helpful individuals have been of great assistance. And using my right as a member of the public to put a written question to the Metropolitan Police Authority (MPA).


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Sat, 13 May 2006

Community Safety Focus

My council put through our letter box a brochure titled 'Community Safety Focus'. This included a page on 'Terrorism' with sections such as:
Terrorist need:
Common sense would have prevented such publication. Don't law abiding residents also need "a place to live"? Don't law abiding residents need to be aware of security measures to respect them? Don't law abiding residents ever return goods even for large cash refunds? Don't law abiding retailers sell legal goods and shouldn't be surprised to have people buy them?

Surely, by this description we - local residents and retailers - are all terrorist suspects and should be arrested?

I sent an email to the Council's Chief Executive about how such advice reinforces a climate of fear that will lead to further wrongful arrests of local residents.

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Sun, 07 May 2006

Leaving do

I eventually had some leaving drinks last Thursday, a week after I left Symbian to join the developer community team at UIQ Technology.

Many thanks to all who came along, I enjoyed the enjoyed the evening very much! JohnP, MarkS, MartinDJ and PanosA gave me a really nice card, and RichardB wrote the following limerick:
There once was a fellow called Mery,
A brilliant techie? Yes, very.
Then to UIQ he went,
Well, perhaps it was meant,
But we hope he'll remain very merry.

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