Posts tagged Police

Domestic Violence policy?: Media Distortion?

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Recently I was copied into an email from someone who had been part of a long chain of recipients and people who had forwarded on the contents. In the email was a story about Government policy on domestic violence. It claimed that the Coalition was scrapping a new Domestic Violence Protection Order in order to save money and it included quotes from Labour politicians about how the Government was putting vulnerable people at risk.

DVPOs were meant to give senior police officers a power to provide a breathing space for a possible victim of domestic abuse by banning the accused perpetrator from their joint home. This sounds in principle a sensible and useful tool to protect alleged victims. My limited understanding about them is that they are meant to be used in cases where the police don’t have enough proof to charge the alleged attacker.

I was naturally quite shocked and anxious about the story and wondered how the Liberal Democrat ministers could allow something like this to happen. My next thought was that something didn’t seem to ring true with the story. I struggled to believe that the Coalition would do such a thing and certainly not the Liberal Democrat MPs. It looks cheap and short-sighted. The Conservatives have being trying to cleanse their brand for several years and this action would seem to be counter productive for little gain.

Then I came across the story in the Independent that seemed to confirm what I had been sent. Theresa May stated that she was scrapping them to save money. But she was also quoted as stating that there were worries about the legislation involved as well. Still not satisfied, I continued to google the story. The Guardian wrote

“May wrote to charities last week to say that she had taken the decision to “defer” the pilots due to budgetary pressures and concerns about the “practicability” of the legislation.”

Interesting. The scheme was deferred for a review in the autumn and not “scrapped”. Also what was being deferred was a pilot scheme. It also seemed that the orders themselves were seen as at fault and that they might need altering. The Liberal Conspiracy blog had already picked up on this several weeks earlier (I had not spotted the issue at the time), although it seems to think that the spending cut agenda was being put forward as main driver.

From what I have read, there were many concerns about these orders and whether they would actually work as planned. Would the alleged perpetrator be re-housed temporarily? What is the accused worked from home?Would they be able to claim benefits? Would the police be able to get the orders in time and could the courts cope with the speedy timetable. Now I don’t know if these worries are valid, but they were aired during the parliamentary debates and so seem genuine and worth investigating.

Elements of the media seem to have carried out a sloppy piece of unbalanced journalism that gives the wrong impression of what is actually happening. I have noticed this happening more and more over the past few months. I would guess that some are stories being fed to the media by Labour politicians or spinners, but there does seem to be a bit of a narrative being built up in the media that the cuts will be vast and unfair, and they are seeking stories to fulfill this narrative. Even if the story is not quite true, many people will skim the story and take on board the headline. The coalition need to work harder and smarter at presentation and rebuttal, without going down the long dark road that Alistair Campbell trod.

Call for criminal investigation

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David Howarth has called for a full-scale criminal investigation into the alleged police assault that might have led to a man dieing.

Other blogs on the subject from Lib Dem voice

Police filmed assaulting man who died

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The Guardian obtained footage of an apparent assault on Ian Tomlinson during the G20 protests. The information in the press and media indicate that Mr Tomlinson was not involved in the protests, was not challenging the police and was assaulted in an unprovoked attack. ITN report

We all know that major events like the G20 meeting frequently attract protests in which wide-scale damage to property occurs. We also know that the police often become the target of provocation by a small minority of protesters, with bottles and other objects being thrown at them. The police have an unenviable job of keeping the peace and preventing violence in these situations.

No all the facts are known yet and a full investigation is needed. The incident appears to show a police officer unhindered by any restraints and confident that what he does will be supported by the authorities. What is known is that many people are becoming angry at a perceived pattern of abuse of power that the public is becoming less and less tolerant of.

Since the September 11th attacks, the UK government has steadily handed over more and more powers to the police in the name of fighting terrorism. Many of the laws they have created give wide discretion to the police to act as they see fit. We regularly see stories in the media of protests banned or limited under police powers, of local authorities using powers created to stop organised crime and terrorism for relatively minor offences and people arrested by the police under suspicion of terrorist offences and released without charge. Only recently the police were found to be acting incorrectly in preventing the press from taking photographs during the protests – We were wrong, says the met.

I believe that New Labour under Blair and now Brown have been steadily removing important checks and balances in the way power is restrained. They have given powers to enforcement agencies that are too indiscriminate and with inadequate limits. Little thought seems to have been given on how these powers can be monitored for abuse and New Labour’s assumption appears to be that all powers will be used wisely and in the public interest. I think that they have done this for two reasons; firstly to appear tough and decisive to the right-wing popular media in order to secure voters who might think about voting Conservative; and because their leaders have found it difficult to shake off their control-freak, authoritarian mentality. Both of these factors were born of the strong drive not to repeat the failures of the past where Labour has been portrayed as split and unable to control their own party.

For years we have seen the Government steamroller opposition and criticism to the destruction of liberties, claiming that opponents are too soft, naive or liberal. The culture they have engendered have created a fertile breeding ground for abuses of power. In every organisation there are people who go too far and take matters into their own hands, and I’m sure that most police officers generally work hard to uphold the law and protect the public. But if you keep drafting illiberal laws with inadequate restraints, you provide an excuse for those few bad apples that bring shame upon their colleagues.

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