Jonathan Fryer

Writer, Lecturer, Broadcaster and Liberal Democrat Politician

Posts Tagged ‘stop and search’

Brian Paddick Back on the Lewisham Beat

Posted by jonathanfryer on Monday, 19th October, 2009

Brian Paddick 1Only one in a hundred reported crimes in London actually gets solved, which means that those criminals who do get caught feel very hard done by. That was the gruesome message delivered by former senior Metropolitan police officer (and LibDem London Mayoral candidate) Brian Paddick at the Blackheath Supper Club this evening. He was very much on home territory, having been Chief Inspector in Lewisham for a while (though his name is usually more intimately associated with Lambeth). The solution to this lamentable record in getting more convictions, he said, was in building a new kind of trust between police and community, so that people in areas where the criminals are well known would actually feel confident enough in the police to share the necessary information. Interestingly, when he toured a problem estate with some black youths not so long ago and asked them what they thought the police should be doing, they replied, ‘More stop-and-search!’ But what they meant, of course, was stopping and searching armed thugs whose identity is well known within local communities, rather than the current practice of blanket stop-and-search based largely on ethnic profiling. Neither the Conservatives nor Labour seem to have found the answer to London’s policing dilemma. The question now is whether the LibDems, benefiting from Brian’s advice, can offer a viable alternative.

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Shami Chakrabarti and Toffs in Wigs

Posted by jonathanfryer on Thursday, 18th June, 2009

Shami Chakrabati‘Unelected toffs in wigs, be they in the Courts or in the House of Lords, have been the defenders of civil liberties in many cases, during the current government,’ according to the Director of Liberty, Shami Chakrabarti, who was the guest speaker at a lunch given today by the UK Section of the Association of European Journalists at the London office of the European Parliament. Because of the so-called War on Terror,  disturbing new powers have been granted to both the government and the police. For example, Section 44 of the Terrorism Act relating to stop and search requires no necessary grounds for suspicion at all. Tony Blair famously said that he would give the police whatever powers they needed. Shami opined that an ‘authoritarain arms race’ began in Britain when Michael Howard and Tony Blair became responsible for the Home Affairs brief in their respective parties — well before 9/11.

Liberty ID card bookletLiberty is currently celebrating 75 years of existence, having previously been known as the National Council of Civil Liberties (NCCL), in which, interestingly, several now prominent New Labour figures were previously involved. It’s always a spectacle to see them squirm when they try to defend the proposed introduction of ID cards in Britain, about which Liberty has been running a campaign. Shami Chakrabarti — who was a barister before working for six years for the Home Office — has no such ambitions to be sucked into politics with all its compromises. ‘I’d sooner be a rock-star before I’d be Home Secretary,’ she declared. She paid tribute to the work that Liberal Democrats have done in defending human rights (though she opposes the European arrest warrant, which the party has championed) and she sharply criticised Conservative plans to scrap the Human Rights Act, suspecting that their main objection to this important buttress to civil liberties is its essentially European origin.

Link: http://www.liberty-human-rights.org.uk and http://www.aej-uk.org

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