Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Police charged over Hayley Adamson death

A Police officer is to be charged with causing the death of teenager Hayley Adamson by dangerous driving.

Lawyers for the Crown Prosecution Service made the decision after considering a file of evidence prepared by the Independent Police Complaints Commission.

Over four months after 16-year-old Hayley was struck by the Northumbria Police patrol car driven by PC John Dougal, a criminal case will now be presented at court.

The student was killed as she crossed Denton Road, Newcastle, after a night out with friends on May 19.

Hayley’s family had called for justice for the youngster whose life was cut short as she was about to sit school exams.

Chris Enzor, Chief Crown Prosecutor, CPS Durham said: "Following a thorough investigation by the Independent Police Complaints Commission, I confirm my decision to charge PC John James Dougal of Northumbria Police with causing death by dangerous driving.

"PC Dougal was driving the patrol car that struck Hayley Adamson.

"In relation to another officer who was driving a second patrol car behind PC Dougal’s vehicle, I have decided that there is not sufficient evidence for a realistic prospect of conviction.

"My thoughts are with Hayley’s family at this difficult time."

Schoolgirl Hayley, of Cedar Road, Fenham, was hit by a police car just after 11pm. She died at the scene in front of her distressed friends.

There was a hostile reaction in the immediate aftermath of the incident in which police were pelted with bricks and a full investigation was subsequently launched by the IPCC.

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Friday, September 19, 2008

Police ordered to return £14,420 taken from man who did nothing wrong.

THE son of a Muslim cleric today won his bid to reclaim £14,420 confiscated from him by police at Heathrow airport.

A judge criticised a Wikipedia entry used by officers to justify their actions and said the money was a religious gift and was not intended for "terrorist purposes".

Abdul Fostock, 25, was stopped by police in October 2006 when he was about to travel to Beirut to visit his father.

London's Southwark Crown Court heard Fostock was carrying £14,420 in a series of envelopes marked: Daddy; Mum; Sheikh and Spending Money.

Fostock, of Streamside Close, Enfield, Middlesex, told officers he received the money from "friends and family" and intended to distribute it as an "Eid present".

But Detective Sergeant Russell Hughes of the Metropolitan Police Counter Terrorism Command told an appeal hearing there were "reasonable grounds" to "suspect the money had been intended for the purposes of crime", and it was seized under the Proceeds of Crime Act.

Ruling on the appeal Judge Higgins said: "This was for his father's day-to-day living requirements as he was largely destitute and depended on friends and relatives.

"It was an Eid gift, it was not for the purposes of terrorism.

"It was an act of humanity given at the end of the month of Ramadan when the minds of Muslims turn to such matters."

He also dismissed evidence provided by the Met about Mr Bakri's involvement in terrorist groups as "unreliable" as it was from "open sourced material", namely a Wikipedia entry.

Tanveer Queresh representing Fostock said this evidence was "wholly unreliable".

He added: "The crux of the case against him rests on open source material from Wikipedia.

"Mere users of this website can edit the website's content instantly and it often contains inaccurate and malicious information.

The Met was ordered to repay the money within 14 days and also ordered to cover Fostock's court costs of £4,000.

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Police in £5 million overtime 'terror' case urged to buy "holiday in Spain, plasma screen television or a bed at The Savoy, good show, food and booze"

Britain's biggest anti-terrorist investigation was seen by police as an opportunity to pay credit card bills, take luxury holidays and stay at The Savoy Hotel.

Volunteers were told that shifts, believed to be paid at £300 each, would give them time to "read a good book, take up botany or ornithology, study for your sergeant’s exam (or) work out the compound interest on a rest day’s pay".

Emails circulated to officers at Thames Valley Police offered "premium rates" of pay to those "with a raging credit card habit".

One message, titled "108 shopping days to Christmas", sought officers for Saturday shifts and said that the payments "could buy the joy and admiration of your children on Christmas morning... is that not priceless?"

Another presented the goodies that two or three nights work could buy, ranging from a holiday in Spain to a plasma screen television or a "bed at The Savoy, good show, food and booze".

The emails were sent by Sergeant David Bald to source extra manpower for Operation Overt, the inquiry into the alleged 'plot' to blow up transatlantic airliners.

While specialist teams searched King’s Wood and Fennels Wood near High Wycombe, uniformed police were required to stand guard.

Hundreds of officers took up the opportunity over a six-month period.

A report by HM Inspectorate of Constabulary said that the diversion of Thames Valley’s resources to Operation Overt had "significantly depleted its operational capacity".

Home Office assessments ranked it the third-worst performing police force in Britain.

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Thursday, September 18, 2008

'The police have put me through hell'

A Hatfield man, recently found not guilty of drug dealing by a jury, has told of the trauma he and his family endured following his arrest.

Robert Lampey, 35, who was brought up in the town and lives with his parents in Elmsford Road, says he was befriended early last year in The Cat and Fiddle pub in Roe Green Lane by a man he knows only as Andy.

But ‘Andy’ was an undercover police officer who eventually asked Mr Lampey - who insists he has never touched illegal drugs - for cocaine.

Mr Lampey said: "He told me he was living with his sister in Hatfield because he had to get away from London for a bit.

"He seemed to be a nice bloke and even asked me to take him and his kids to some fishing lakes I know."

In October last year police arrived at his home, mounted a fruitless search and charged him with conspiracy to supply class A drugs - the start of a year-long nightmare.

The self-employed carpet cleaner told the Review: "I have never been in trouble at all before - not even a speeding ticket. It has been absolute hell for my mum and dad.

"My mum had friends coming up to her in the supermarket saying: 'Hasn't your son been done for selling drugs?'

"I thought I was looking at three or four years in prison."

The evidence against him, presented in a trial at St Albans Crown Court earlier this month, included a video film purporting to show him selling cocaine to "Andy" on the steps of The Cat and Fiddle pub.

According to Mr Lampey, another person was seen with the police officer, but he was at least ten feet away and not involved in any way. The jury obviously agreed as he was found not guilty.

He said: "I was just chatting to some people and having a cigarette outside the pub."

He was also accused of giving a plastic bag with cocaine to "Andy" on another occasion inside the pub.

He said: "When it got to court, they had to admit there was no DNA or fingerprints on the bag, or anything to connect it to me and the video film didn't show anything at all.

"The trial was a real strain. I couldn't stand the thought of prison.

"But thankfully the jury realised I was innocent.

"I have never been involved with drugs or crime at all and the police have put me through hell."

To celebrate the end of his ordeal and claim some much-needed relaxation he is off for a week in Spain next week.

Hertfordshire Constabulary has refused to comment on the case .

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'Bin police' caught using ladders to spy on householders

A council has sent staff equipped with ladders on spying missions to check whether householders are using more than one wheelie bin for their non-recyclable rubbish.

The officials have been spotted scaling ladders all over Blackburn, Lancs, so they can peer over walls and fences into back yards.

If they see an "unauthorized" second bin, they retrieve it and take it back to a council depot.

At least one householder has called police to report her bin stolen, oblivious to the fact that it had simply been reclaimed.

The local council insists its policy of only allowing one rubbish bin per household for non-recyclable waste is necessary to cut down on landfill costs and boost recycling.

However, critics have condemned the "spying" missions, describing them as "ridiculous" and "over the top".

Abdul Patel, a Labour councillor, said "This is ridiculous. How can you spy on people using a ladder?

"It would frighten people. They should knock on the door and show their ID. I am really shocked and will take it up with the council".

Doretta Cocks, founder of the Campaign for Weekly Waste Collections, said: "The term 'bin police' is very much justified here.

"Councils do need to deal with wheelie bin thefts, but this is definitely not the way to deal with the problem.

"If it happened to me I would call 999. It's just not on".

She added: "You have to wonder how much time and money is going into this. It's small wonder our council taxes are going up every year".

Hazel Wilson, 67, challenged two council staff when she spotted them in an alleyway.

"One was carrying a ladder and putting it up against back yard walls one by one. The other man was taking notes.

"I asked them what they were doing and they said some people had more than one black bin, and if they did they were removing it.

"They had a lorry parked nearby. I thought 'What if an old lady was doing the washing up and this man peered over the fence".

"It would give you an awful shock. If I was in my garden trying to catch some sun and some Peeping Tom popped his head over the hedge I would call the police".

Miss Wilson's encounter came on the same day that police were alerted to the "theft" of a wheelie bin in a nearby street.

Senior staff at Blackburn with Darwen Council have now apologized for the "spying" missions. However, they insist that their policy of allowing only one rubbish bin per household is necessary.

Alan Cottam, executive member for regeneration and environment, said: "The council does remove unauthorised bins where they are found and have recently been carrying out checks to see how many are in the borough.

"On this occasion, the officers were over-zealous and the council apologies for the upset caused".

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Lancashire Police to pay £2,000 to a Preston man with a heart condition who was arrested and put in a cell

A judge has ordered Lancashire Police to pay £2,000 to a Preston man with a heart condition who was arrested and put in a cell.

Dad-of-one Jordan Wood, 20, was arrested in 2005 after police attended a call to his then home in Eversleigh Street.

Mr Wood, who suffers tachycardia, which causes his heart to race, said he and his partner were merely having a row.

He was arrested and put in a cell before being taken to hospital, where he says his heartbeat was found to be 200 beats a minute.

A judge at Lancaster Crown Court dropped Wood's allegation of assault but found police acted unlawfully in arresting him. He was awarded £2,000 compensation.

Today Mr Wood, of Golbourne Street, Deepdale, said: "I was in the kitchen making a brew when the police turned up banging on the door.

They ordered me to open the door and I was asking why, because there was no reason to. They threatened to knock the door down.

"When I let them in I was knocked to the floor and arrested. I kept telling them I had a heart condition.

"I'm not happy. The incident happened in front of my son Reuben who was just a few months old."

Mr Wood had an operation for his condition two years ago but it did not work.

He lives separately from his partner but they are still together. Their second child is due in December.

A police spokesman said: "Questions were put to the jury in which they found imminent violence to the person or damage to property had not been proven, thereby rendering the arrest unlawful.

"However, the jury did accept that the allegation of assault had not been proven."

Police pay 600K in compensation for wrongful arrests

POLICE forces in Wales paid out more than £600,000 in compensation for wrongful arrests and other civil claims over the past two years.

The largest payouts, totalling £556,700, were made by South Wales Police, according to details obtained under the Freedom of Information Act.

South Wales Police saidtold Leanne Wood that its payouts related to claims stretching back to 1997.

A total of 59 payments were made from Welsh forces with 29 relating to South Wales, 12 to North Wales, 10 to Gwent and eight to Dyfed-Powys in the 2006-07 and 2007-08 financial years.

Over the same period no police officers were disciplined for wrongful arrest.

Leanne Wood, Plaid AM for South Wales Central, said: “South Wales Police force area covers the largest population of Wales, including the principal cities of Cardiff and Swansea. But it is a matter of concern that large sums of public money have been paid out by South Wales Police to resolve claims made by members of the public.

“It is also important to realise that the payouts made mean there is an acceptance that someone has been wrongly arrested or treated and that does have a major impact on people’s lives.”

Ms Wood said she would be writing to Chief Constable Barbara Wilding to ask for an explanation of the high level of payouts in the force area.

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Police stop-and-search accountability removed

Police officers will no longer have to issue receipts to persons whom they have randomly stopped.

Legislation was brought in which gave the police powers to randomly stop and ask people to account for themselves, without reason nor warrant, as is common in all police states. Police officers are currently required to issue a form to the thousands of innocent people whom they harass for no reason at all.

The forms were introduced in the wake of the Stephen Lawrence inquiry after the Macpherson report into Stephen Lawrence's murder stated that stop tactics were used disproportionately against black people.

It is planned to scrap the form nationwide by the beginning of next year.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Police jurors are a threat to fair trials, senior judges warn

Police officers should not be allowed to sit on juries because of the danger they pose to the fairness of trials, senior members of the judiciary say.

The criticism by four senior Crown Court judges sitting in England and Wales follows a shake-up of the criminal justice system five years ago. Before the change, police officers, judges, defence lawyers and prosecutors were exempt from serving on juries.

But research by a retired US judge has uncovered hostility to the reform, in particular extending eligibility for jury service to police officers. One judge said: "I do think the notion of opening up juries to those actually involved in the legal system is a step too far. When I say the legal system, I include police officers." Another said: "I think it's too far to have judges and policemen sit on juries... In a criminal case police in particular are not who you would want on a dispassionate jury."

One judge said: "Juror expertise may cause the case to be tried on more than the evidence before the court". The judge, who presides over serious fraud trials, said: "We tell jurors that they are to try the case based on the evidence... before them but it is hard for any juror to put their knowledge and expertise aside."

Last year, the House of Lords ruled that the "possibility of bias, possibly unconscious, which flowed from the presence on the jury of persons professionally committed to one side of the adversarial trial process" could form the basis for quashing a conviction.

And this year the Court of Appeal said that one way around concerns about bias was to get jurors to declare their profession earlier in the pre-trial process.

Peter Lodder QC, chairman of the Criminal Bar Association, said it was difficult to know what influence police officers had on jurors because of the rule which banned inquiries into the behaviour of jurors during their deliberations.

A Ministry of Justice spokesperson said: "We believe that the pool of people eligible for jury service should be as wide as possible."

Monday, September 15, 2008

Police officers under pressure to hit stop and search targets - stop schoolchildren and invent names

MSP Shirley-Anne Somerville has demanded an explanation from the Government and Transport Police after the Evening News revealed officers were under such pressure to hit stop and search targets that they stopped schoolchildren and invented names to boost their figures.
The SNP member for the Lothians has written to Justice Secretary Kenny MacAskill, UK Transport Minister Tom Harris and the British Transport Police.

She has asked for a response to Constable Edmund Burke's claims of tricks used to hit targets in the wake of the Glasgow Airport terrorist attack.

He said there was so much pressure on officers to "get numbers up" on searches that he and his colleagues stopped schoolchildren and even invented names.

Ms Somerville said: "The use of stop and search powers is an extremely sensitive area and it appears the British Transport Police forgot that."

Ms Somerville said she wanted assurances the pressure described by Constable Burke was no longer being applied to officers, and that children were not being stopped without good reason.

Police cameras to track 50million cars a DAY - and keep details for up to five years

Police intend to map millions of car journeys and keep them on a national database for five years.

Roadside cameras across the country will capture the exact movements of 50million licence plates every day.

Officers have been encouraged to 'fully and strategically exploit' the database to reconstruct the whereabouts of drivers despite growing concerns from civil rights groups.

But questions will be raised about the length of time details are being kept on file and the apparent lack of guidance about who might be allowed access to the information.

The operation uses automatic number plate recognition (ANPR) cameras to 'read' the time and location of all vehicles on the road.

Thousands of CCTV cameras across the country have been converted to read ANPR data, capturing people's movements in cars on motorways, main roads, airports and town centres.

Last night a spokesman for The Association of Chief Police Officers (Acpo) said they understood that under current guidelines the data could only be kept for two years.

But responding to inquiries under the Freedom of Information Act, the Home Office has reportedly admitted the data is now being kept for five years.

Local authorities have since adapted their own CCTV systems to capture licence plates on behalf of police, massively expanding the network of available cameras.

Mobile cameras have been installed in patrol cars and unmarked vehicles parked by the side of roads.

Police helicopters have been equipped with infrared cameras that can read licence plates from 610 metres (2,000ft).

In four months' time, when a nationwide network of cameras is fully operational, the National ANPR Data Centre in Hendon, north London, will record up to 50million licence plates a day.

Human rights group Privacy International last night described the five-year record of people's car journeys 'unnecessary and disproportionate', and said it had lodged an official complaint with the Information Commissioner's Office (ICO), the government's data watchdog.

In a statement, the ICO said it would take the complaint 'seriously' and would be contacting police 'to discuss proposed data retention periods'.

Senior police officers have said they intend the database to be integrated into 'mainstream policing'.

The director of Privacy International, Simon Davies, said last night the database would give police 'extraordinary powers of surveillance'.

'This would never be allowed in any other democratic country,' he said. 'This is possibly one of the most valuable reserves of data imaginable.'

Meanwhile, it also emerged that motorists could be charged for all journeys under tests that are being carried out by potential Government contractors.

Companies bidding to run the pay-as-you-go driving schemes have been asked to come up with a system to impose a minimum charge on motorists.

The charges would be imposed at all times and not just on the busiest roads or during rush hours.

In the tender document, it encourages companies to test technology for a pay-as-you-go scheme that could be applied nationwide.

It means that minimum travel charges, short distance fees and higher costs for driving on busier roads could be imposed on some areas.

A Department for Transport spokesman said the trials were being carried out for local schemes and denied national charging would be introduced.

He said: 'We have been absolutely clear that these trials - which we announced last year and updated Parliament on in July - are about designing effective local schemes.

'They do not mean that national road pricing is going ahead.'

Police State Britain is back!

We're back!

After a short period of non-posting, Police State Britain is back in full force!

Much has happened in the time in which we've been away, and not much of that has been beneficial to the right of the individual to live their life free from unjustifiable state intrusion.

We hope to be able to keep the site updated a little bit more frequently than previously may have been the case, and, to be honest, there has been no let up on the constant assault on freedoms which we face.

Anyhow, thanks for reading, and remember, all contributions and tips are welcome at our new email address.