Tuesday, January 16, 2007

18DS and Super ASBOs

Last night's Blogger TV, on which your humble Devil was "remarkably well-behaved", is available to watch here.

One of the stories that I brought up was Timmy's comment on the so-called Super-ASBOs (or Violent Offender Orders).
These new “super-Asbos” will be aimed not only at people who have a history of violent behaviour or who have just left prison but also those who may not yet have committed an offence.

So, there you are, Burberry encovered, tattoos rampant, wandering down the road with a can of Stella or the like. Copper comes up to you and says, you know, I think you migh commit a criminal offense at some time in the future. Would you like to come along with me sir?

Off you go and:
Like Asbos, the police or probation service would apply for the orders to the civil courts, where the threshold for proof is lower than in a criminal case. The document says the process will therefore be much quicker and hearsay evidence will be permitted to obtain an order against a suspect. Any breach of the order would be a criminal offence.

What, after they've got this order, can they insist you must do?
...the measures will ban potential trouble-makers from certain areas or mixing with certain people, alert police when they move house and possibly force them to live in a named hostel, give details of vehicles they own and impose a curfew on them. The orders will last for at least two years, with no upper limit. Any breach could lead to up to five years in jail.

So, you've actually done nothing wrong at all (perhaps something against the rules of good taste with that outfit but we haven't actually put Trinny and Susannah into power just yet) and the State, on the balance of probablities, including hearsay evidence, can insist that you move out of your house, move towns, probably lose your job....wonderful isn't it?

Indeed, it is an absolute fucking shocking thing to even propose, and so you can imagine that I was (almost) struck dumb when Nick Palmer MP defended the measures. Nick used that old canard—tried and tested by NuLabour after the 7/7 bombings—that the greatest right that anyone had was to walk the streets in safety, and that this right superceded all others.

"What's next?" I thought to myself, "Will this idiot trot out that huge stinking pile of old bollocks about having nothing to fear if you have nothing to hide?" Luckily Nick did not do so and, even more fortunately for Nick, we ran out of time.

Still, I feel that, for the record, I ought to make this clear: Nick Palmer MP supports the right of the state to restrict your freedom of movement and association—to restrict your life and liberty—on nothing more than a suspicion that you look like you may, at some point, possibly commit a crime somewhere.

Every time that I think that our elected representatives could not get any lower in my estimation, some fucking fool says something so contemptible that I find a new nadir. Today's candidate is Nick Palmer MP: why not show your appreciation for Nick's firm stand via his website or email?


AntiCitizenOne said...

But if the police can restrict your liberty to walk the streets just because they have a suspicion then you are not safe!

Left wing politicians allways ignore the state using force.

james higham said...

...but also those who may not yet have committed an offence.

Oh goody. That sounds like it could be for me.

Dick Turpin said...

Sounds a good wheeze to up the official detection rate. Hard working, taxpaying mugs likely to commit offence 100% detection rate. Foul mouthed, murdering, thieving scum 0%. Mind how you go sir.

Elaib said...

Sounds like a job for Constable Savage

PJ said...

This vignette of modern life, as reprted in The Telegraph: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/main.jhtml?xml=/news/2007/01/17/nbb117.xml
caught my eye.


A man who racially abused a police surgeon was told by a judge yesterday: "Next time call him a fat bastard and don't say anything about his colour."

Judge Paul Darlow described the decision to charge Matthew Stiddard, 36, with a racially aggravated offence as "nonsense".

"At a time when we have an overstretched police force and an overstretched Crown Prosecution Service, one wonders why we are sitting here with long faces dealing with one sentence," he added.

Exeter Crown Court heard that Stiddard was in the Hole in the Wall pub, Dawlish, Devon, when police entered looking for someone else.

However Stiddard fitted the description of the man police were seeking and was asked to step outside. He became abusive and was detained.

While in custody he asked to see a police doctor after complaining of back pains.

Imraan Jhetam, the doctor who attended, was told by Stiddard: "F*** off you Paki, I want an English doctor, not a f***ing Paki." Judge Darlow remarked: "This was a single sentence to a man who should not have taken it so seriously.

"He is a man of some considerable standing in society and I cannot see that it caused him any distress or hurt. It should not have caused a problem in this case.

"To charge rather than let it go by with a caution strikes me as rather odd. We let people hit each other and break into people's homes and they are not charged."

Ann Reddrop, prosecuting, said: "When there is a burglary and it is in the public interest there will be a prosecution. This was a police surgeon and he is entitled to the same protection as anyone else."

The judge then stated: "So next time call him a fat bastard and don't say anything about his colour."

Stiddard, of Dawlish, admitted causing racially aggravated intentional harassment, alarm or distress.

Without hearing mitigation, Judge Darlow indicated his view on the seriousness of the offence by conditionally discharging Stiddard for two years and ordering him to pay £45 of the £150 costs.

Reading between the lines, I would imagine Mr Stiddard was enjoying a pint at his local when Devonshire's finest decided he could 'help' them with their enquiries and step outside. When he declined, in no doubt a forthright manner, he was dragged out of the pub & down to the nick in shall we say a less than courteous way - maybe resulting in some "back pains". Regulations require any complaint of injuries to be dealt with by summoning medical aid and when confronted by the police doctor the already somewhat agitated Mr Stiddard was a tad impolite.
The only redeeming feature of the whole sorry episode was that the eminently sensible Judge Darlow treated the prosecution's submission with the contempt it deserved.

I must say, that if a bunch of coppers dragged me out of my local for no good reason I could be a lot more than "abusive" and if a police doctor, whatever his family's country of origin, takes offence at the mild appellation of "Paki" he really should be looking for more sheltered employment. The last time I saw it, the Pakistani High Commissioner's car sported the registration number PAK1 so the term can't be that contentious

The case shines a light on a disturbing trend in our justice system. Having made a mistake in misidentifying Mr Stiddard in the first place, instead of apologising and sending him on his way the police have , with the aid of the CPS looked around for an offence they can hang on him. It's an experience that is becoming all to familiar to those who have the misfortune of coming to their attention unless, (and I suspect that this applies to Mr Stiddard) their ethnicity does not draw the attention of human rights lawyers and Guardian columnists, in which case large out of court settlements are readily available.
That Mr Stiddard received a two year conditional discharge is to be welcomed but it's worth remembering, in regard to your post, that this could subsequently be used by a civil court to justify an Anti-social Behaviour Order barring him from ever savouring a pint in The Hole In The Wall again.

Anonymous said...

I saw that show, and I was speechless too.

I just wished you'd had time to lay into him properly, it was most disappointing not to see that.

Oh yeah? So what has happened for the last ten years, exactly?

Over at the ASI, they are posting some of the winning entries of the Young Writers on Liberty. One does not want to put such keen minds off,...