Police numbers are falling. In England and Wales between March 2015 and March 2016 (the most recent government figures), “frontline” positions shrank from 110,853 to 106,411. Recruitment was down and the number of dismissals and resignations were up, continuing a five-year trend.
It has also been widely acknowledged, not least by the Prime Minister herself, that her decision to deploy troops to guard key public buildings today frees up some armed police to do policing. Of course, the optics of looking very serious by calling in the military has absolutely nothing to do with a certain date in the diary, especially after Conservative campaign strategy has collapsed. It also helps cover the fact that the numbers of coppers have slid since her “team” took power with the Liberal Democrats in 2010, at least for those folks who look at politics askance.
As campaigning starts returning to normal after Monday night’s outrage, the Tories and their media friends will probably throw propriety aside and scaremonger. Threat and the threat of threat is what they do and how they won last time. They don’t really need to explicitly say it, though. The mood among some is bound to be unsettled. As @IanPMcLaughlin put it, “I don’t feel particularly reassured by seeing several heavily armed officers today. I feel like I’m being reminded to be fearful.” Continue reading
The Independent Police Complaints Commission has cleared armed police officers of any wrongdoing over the killing of Mark Duggan over 3 years ago, following an inquest verdict of lawful killing a year ago. However the police officer who fired the fatal shots refused to be interviewed by the IPCC; why could he not be compelled to answer questions? A week ago it was decided that no further action would be taken after the child sex abuse victims in Rochdale were repeatedly let down by police officers, one of whom retired to escape prosecution; why is retirement allowed to preempt prosecution? Continue reading
The decision by Drew Harris, the Assistant Chief Constable of the PSNI, not to investigate killings carried out by the secret British Army Military Reaction Force (MRF) of the early 1970s will surprise few within the nationalist community.
The MRF was the subject of a BBC programme last year. In it members of that clandestine force boasted of their activities. The MRF was particularly noted for carrying out drive-by shootings in which civilians were targeted. Pat McVeigh and Daniel Rooney were two of its victims. There were others.
At that time it was widely believed that these attacks were the work of unionist death squads but now we know that British soldiers, working to a strategy to heighten sectarian fears, were responsible. Continue reading
Seven days ago, the Guardian revealed that Cambridgeshire Constabulary had attempted to infiltrate activist and student groups through the recruitment of informers. The news prompted outcry from students, academics and campaigners alike. If you haven’t yet seen the videos secretly recorded by the Guardian’s mole, they provide a fascinating insight into the inner workings of our surveillance state. At both its most transgressive, and its most amateur.
In a blog for the London Review of Books on Tuesday, I objected to the position adopted by management at the University of Cambridge, who have refused to comment, saying it is a “matter for the police”. “You might expect an educational institution to be concerned by solid evidence that the police are gathering information on its law-abiding students,” I wrote. “But the university has form when it comes to collaborating in the crackdown on student dissent.” The fact that Cambridge’s vice-chancellor remains silent, after over 130 academics called on him to speak out, alerts us to the wider significance of this story: that Britain’s youth are becoming increasingly alienated from the institutions they once thought were there to protect their interests. Continue reading
The latest revelation that the police have been trying to recruit informants about the political activities of university students produces an unpleasant and disturbing reaction that Britain is drifting into an authoritarian state where suppression of human rights and civil liberties is becoming commonplace. The Guardian reports that the police officer from a covert unit says it is necessary to to find informants to target ‘student-union type stuff’ because the police cannot infiltrate their own officers into universities. In other words, they would if they could. Continue reading