Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Injured peace protestor to sue police

A retired nurse is planning legal action after she was injured by the police during an anti-war demonstration.

Maureen Stephenson, from Waltham Forest in east London, is still receiving treatment after being knocked to the ground during the protest in June, injuring her back and shoulder.

She has made a complaint against the Metropolitan Police.

The Stop the War Coalition said police were "out to attack" people taking part in the Parliament Square protest. The Met did not comment.

Mrs Stephenson is receiving treatment after sustaining injuries in the protest, timed to coincide with US president George Bush's farewell visit to London.

The Stop the War Coalition complained to the police about the way officers behaved and said it would support anyone facing legal action.

Member Chris Nineham said: "For some reason, the whole attitude of the police towards the peace movement changed on that day and they were out to attack us."

He added: "The level of brutality was in a different league to anything we had seen since the group was launched in 2001.

"There were police with riot sticks, which was just ridiculous given that we had held more than 20 previous protests with hardly any arrests at any of them."

In June Deputy Assistant Commissioner Chris Allison, predictably, defended the actions of his officers during the protest, claiming that the actions of the police were "entirely proportionate" in the face of "irresponsible" and "criminal" provocation by the peace protesters.

Labels: , ,

Police officers caught on camera kicking pet dogs

Two police officers who kicked and beat their pet dogs were yesterday warned they could face jail.

PC Craig Neil Macleod, 34, and PC Anja Mason, 29, from Prestatyn, were filmed repeatedly hitting their border collie pup called Tess and their four-year-old rottweiler, Snoopy.

A neighbour captured shocking footage of the pair using “unnecessary and excessive” violence over a month-long period, during which the court heard the animals suffered “mental terror”.

In one shot, Mason is seen kicking the four-month-old puppy before flinging it in the air by the scruff of its neck.

In another, Macleod drags the rottweiler towards him by its lead before hitting it on the head.

He also forcefully kicks a dog toy, which hits Tess. In another clip the collie is seen running away as Mason chases it with a stick.

Yelps of distress from both dogs can be heard on the tape.

On separate occasions the pair are seen to throw water over the dogs. Yesterday, Macleod pleaded guilty to two counts of causing unnecessary suffering by subjecting both animals to physical trauma.

Mason admitted one count of the same charge against the collie. Four other charges against the pair were dropped because of lack of evidence.

There were gasps in the court room when 20 minutes of edited footage was shown of the cruelty.

In one clip the puppy is struck and kicked after it pulls an item of washing off the line.

Some of the abuse takes place out of sight of the camera but the animal’s cries can clearly be heard.

Glenn Murphy, prosecuting, said: “When the footage was shown to the RSPCA, they took the view that the treatment of the dogs was of considerable concern and was excessive and totally unacceptable.”

The pair claimed they were trying to train their pets but admitted they had chastised them.

After a veterinary report, they signed over the animals, which have now been given new homes. Vet David Martin said Tess is “desperate for attention” in the clips and adds “these actions are not those of competent and humane animal carers.”

But Joanne Stephens, defending, said Macleod and Mason stood to lose their jobs as serving officers for North Wales Police.

Chair of the bench Wendy Gibbs said a custodial sentence could not be ruled out after they found no mitigating factors.

She said: “There were several incidents of deliberate ill treatment which was frightening to both dogs. You intentionally caused pain and suffering and mental terror to both dogs and risked injury by kicking them.”

North Wales Police said both serving constables have been removed from frontline duties pending the outcome of the case.

The couple will next appear before magistrates in Denbigh on November 25.

Labels: , , , ,

UK Police will fingerprint people in the street

UK Police are to be issued with hand-held fingerprint scanners, "so that they can check people's identities in the street".

There's no clear explanation offered of what value this is under the current law, where we are entitled to go about our lawful business without identifying ourselves to the police. The police just aren't entitled to "check your identity" – whatever that means.

Fingerprints taken using the device will be compared against the national police database, which holds information on a quite staggering 7.5 million individuals.

Large public occasions, sporting events, festivals and political conferences could be targeted by the schemes as well as the 2012 London Olympics.

NO2ID said there needs to be legal protections put in place. The group called for assurances that any failures in the technology would be reported to Parliament, and asked that it be made illegal for the fingerprints to be checked against any database other than the criminal databases. They said, for instance, that prints should not be checked against the proposed national identity database.

The group asked that it be made illegal for the fingerprints collected on the streets to be stored, and asked that police officers be banned from arresting those who refuse to give prints.

One thing is plain. History shows we cannot trust the government to constrain unlawful use of a new toy by overzealous forces. In 2000 the courts declared unlawful the standard police practice of hanging on, forever, to DNA records of unconvicted people. No illegal samples were destroyed as a result. Instead the present government changed the law retrospectively to make it all legal after all.

Labels: ,

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Man assaulted and fined £500 for defending son from police dog attack

Cliff Auger is a life long Chelsea supporter who back in January he took his sons, aged 13 and 16, and two of their friends to the Chelsea v QPR FA Cup tie in January. He’s not a hooligan, he’s not a troublemaker, just a normal bloke taking his lads to the match.

After the game Cliff’s life turned upside down as his son was attacked by a police dog and in the course of defending his child, Cliff was assaulted by police officers, and left with four broken ribs and a punctured lung. Oh, and a ridiculous charge that would also leave him with a £500 fine and criminal record.

On their way back to the car, the game having ended in a narrow 1-0 win for Chelsea, one of his son’s friends went into a pub to use the toilet. The premises were then 'locked down' by the police - no one could enter or leave.

Cliff approached the police and asked if the boy could be allowed to leave the pub as he was responsible for the welfare of not only his sons, but their mates as well.

Due to earlier events, tensions had been running high but by the time Cliff and his party arrived in the area it had calmed down. Unfortunately this did not stop the dog handlers approaching Cliff – a German Shepherd was released by police and bit Cliff's older son on his calf.

Hearing his son’s cry of pain, Cliff's immediate and instinctive reaction was to kick the dog - just once - to release its grip, this worked as the dog then turned to bite Cliff. Any parent would surely do the same?

At this point, Cliff was bundled to the ground by several officers - two of them openly admit to striking him with their fists and a baton. Cliff had curled up to protect himself and this was their way of releasing his hands to cuff him.

Cliff was taken to the police station and charged with causing unnecessary suffering to a protected animal. After complaining that he had sustained numerous injuries he was eventually taken to hospital where he was told he had four broken ribs and a punctured lung. Cliff remained in hospital for four days, and subsequently missed six weeks’ work.

Cliff's case was heard earlier this week at the West London Courthouse by a district judge. The dog handler claimed the boy was a threat to him, not the dog. There was contradictory evidence in court from the police. One claimed the boy approached with hands raised, another claimed the boy approached with fists clenched by his side. The dog handler said the dog was on a short lead, whereas another said it was released to the full length.

After a two day trial the judge found him guilty of causing unnecessary suffering to a protected animal. The vet used in the case diagnosed that the animal might have suffered more than five minutes pain, despite never having seen the dog.

The judge advised that he was unable to give Cliff a conditional discharge as he should have waited to let the handler release the dog’s grip. In short, Cliff should have stood and watched while an animal attacked his son.

The court fined Cliff £500 while the police left him with four broken ribs and a punctured lung. We believe this verdict sends out the ridiculous message that a father does not have the right to protect his own child.

Cliff is now pursuing a complaint with the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC).

Labels: , ,

Friday, October 17, 2008

PCSO powers to be expanded

PCSOs, are to be given powers to detain members of the public, it was announced by Jacqui Smith yesterday.

PCSOs, introduced in 2002 by the Home Secretary David Blunkett, have previously been criticised and have been disparagingly referred to as "plastic policemen" and "Blunkett's bobbies".

In September 2007, two PCSOs were heavily criticised after 10-year-old Jordan Lyon drowned in a pond in Wigan.

The two officers stood on the bank and radioed for help instead of jumping in to rescue the child.

They told an inquest that they were not trained to do so.

Greater Manchester Police say Ball Bearing fired into home 'not important enough to attend'

A woman who dialled 999 after yobs fired a ball bearing gun through her window says she was told the incident `wasn't important enough' to send an officer.

Denise Pickard, 42, was watching TV at her home in Stretford when the shots were fired into her front room.

One narrowly missed her partner Patrick, but when she phoned police she claims they told her they would not come out as it was not a real gun.

Miss Pickard said the shooting was the latest incident in a two-year ordeal of anti-social behaviour and abuse from youths who have thrown rocks at her home, banged on the windows and shouted threats.

She said: "We heard a massive bang. I saw three holes in the window. We called the police but they were so dismissive. They said it wasn't important enough to come out.

"I have been left to deal with this problem and have confronted the kids and even spoken to their parents but have just received more abuse and even death threats."

Greater Manchester Police say they logged Miss Pickard's report but did not attend as it was not known exactly what had caused the damage and there were no witnesses.

She says she called 999 again the following day after a group of seven youths returned, banging on her door and shouting `you're going to get shot, I'm going to trash your house'.

She claims it was not until she reported a third incident that night, when the group returned, that an officer came out to see her.

A police spokesman said: "Police received a report that a window at an address in Stretford had been damaged.

"At the time of the call it was not known exactly what had caused the damage and no witnesses saw what happened. In line with procedure a report was logged by a member of the public assistance desk."

Greater Manchester Police were last year ranked second-bottom out of 43 forces in England and Wales in league tables compiled by the Press Association.

Labels: , , ,

Police in Newhaven to harass people for no reason

Police in Newhaven, Sussex, have pledged to crackdown on people minding their own business, and not breaking any law.

Officers will use Section 27 of the Violent Crime Reduction Act to move people on from a place, without reason or warrant, for up to 48 hours at a time with a view to prosecution using public nuisance powers or ASBOs, who have allegedly committed the crime of sitting on a public bench, and enjoying an alcohol based beverage.

But Lea Vesti-Neilsen from Paris Grooming said: 'We have noticed them drinking but it hasn't affected us.

'They have actually been helpful bringing in stray dogs to see if they have been micro-chipped.

'We actually have a positive relationship with them, they
feel quite comfortable coming in.'

Gill Hart from Gill's felt the same. She said: 'If they come past with their dogs they always, to me at least, have been quite polite and everything else.

'To be perfectly honest I have found other people more annoying and rude than them.

'Their dogs do run about but I think they have them quite under control, they do run loose but if they call them they come back to them.'

Unabated, PC Matt Holt (pictured) has indicated that the police will continue to harass people for no reason, and move them on for no reason, using the Violent Crime Reduction Act.

Appearing to be completely oblivious to the feelings of the public in the surrounding area, he said 'I am also going to be approaching our partners from other agencies to look at long term solutions, but would still like the public's assistance in reporting these matters.'

Labels: , , ,

SPECIAL REPORT : How to avoid Big Brother snooping on your on-line browsing

Today, there are a myriad of different bodies and agencies who are spying on you.

Recently, the Home Secretary, Jacqui Smith, announced plans by the government to monitor and record details of every phone call, email, text message, and internet records of every web site you visit.

Many people believe that such activity already takes place, and that this is merely bringing it out into the open.

This article will look at ways to remain free of illegal government spying when browsing online.

There are many software packages which claim to be able to 'anonymise' or 'hide all traces' of your online activity. Most of these are, at best, innefective, and at worst, operated by intelligence services to monitor you directly.

The software we will be looking at today uses a special means of anonymising your browsing, using a system called Onion Routing.

How this works is to set up a chain of computers in between yourself and the website you wish to visit. When you type, for example, '' into your browser, instead of connecting directly to the blogspot server, your request is first sent to one PC, then another, then another, then finally sent to The web page you have requested then travels back to you along the same path.

The effect of this is that it is impossible for anyone monitoring your connection to see what websites you are looking at, or for anyone monitoring the website to see which people are looking at that website.

The preferred choice of software for most people to accomplish this is called 'tor', which is an acronym of 'the onion router'.

Tor is free software, both in terms of cost, and of availabilty of the source code. This is important because it allows anyone in the world to view the programming code which makes up the software, and to determine if there any sections of code which might compromise their anonymity.

(One other such piece of software, known as 'JAP', for which the source code was not available, was later discoevered to have been altered by German Intelligence Services to record visits to certain websites)

Using tor is fairly simple.

A piece of software is downloaded and installed to your PC, and you then set your browser to use this software.

Advice on installing and running tor can be obtained from the official site at

New users may find it useful to use a GUI controller such as the Vidalia package, found at

Labels: , ,

134 serving police officers in Strathclyde have criminal records

Documents released under the Freedom of Information Act have revealed that Strathclyde Police now employ 134 serving Police Officers who themselves have criminal records.

Glasgow South & East Renfrewshire Division have the highest number of criminals in their force, 23, closely followed by Glasgow North East & East Dunbartonshire Division, who have 21 criminal police officers.

The aptly named 'Crime Division' also have several criminals working for them.

The total number of criminals who are working for each division is detailed in the following table.

Division/Department Total

‘A’ Glasgow Central & West Division 10
‘B’ Glasgow North East & East Dunbartonshire Division 21
‘G’ Glasgow South & East Renfrewshire Division 23
‘K’ Renfrewshire & Inverclyde Division 9
‘L’ Argyll, Bute & West Dunbartonshire Division 7
‘N’ North Lanarkshire Division 16
‘Q’ South Lanarkshire Division 10
‘U’ Ayrshire Division 14
Crime Division 3
Detached 3
Force Headquarters 2
Operational Support Division 16


Labels: , ,

South Yorkshire Police plan to turn Sheffield into Police State for football match

Sheffield will become a Police State on Sunday, after South Yorkshire Police revealed their plans to draft in extra officers from other forces,joined by mounted officers, police motorcyclists, specials, PCSOs and dog handlers.

The force helicopter will also be used while and CCTV cameras across the city will be examined.

Police undercover 'spotters' will also be looking for people whom they have adjudicated to be troublemakers.

The cause of this avalanche of harassment? Terrorists? Pedophiles? Knife carriers? Some other almost non-existent problem? No.

The cause of this attack on civil liberties is a football match, to be played on Sunday.

South Yorkshire Police have also boasted that they will be using new legislation, the Violent Crime Reduction Act, to ban people who have not committed any crimes from an area, without any reason, for a period of 48 hours.

They have also asked the owners of Public Houses to close between 3PM and 5PM, denying thousands of people their right to a quite drink on a Sunday afternoon.

Labels: , , ,

Force paid £385,438 to company run by police officers wife

THE wife of a senior North Yorkshire Police officer received nearly £400,000 from the force in payments to her training companies, a damning audit report has revealed.

Peta Ackerley is married to the officer who was in charge of the force's training, Supt Paul Ackerley.

The figure is included in a damning audit report on the links between Supt Ackerley and his wife's companies, which often got work without going through proper procurement processes.

It can also be revealed that Supt Ackerley will escape disciplinary action from the force after his application to retire was accepted by Chief Constable Grahame Maxwell.

In June, the Crown Prosecution Service decided there would be no charges against the officer following a police inquiry.

Supt Ackerley then faced three disciplinary charges for misconduct but will not have to answer them after Mr Maxwell decided to accept his application to retire after 30 years' service.

Although officers have the right to retire after 30 years, North Yorkshire Police could have insisted Supt Ackerley remained in post to face the charges. They have not done so.

Jon Porter, director of North Yorkshire Police's human resources department and the civilian official with overall responsibility for training, resigned in the summer.

His role was also investigated during the police inquiry – carried out by North Yorkshire – but the CPS decided he would not face criminal charges.

Both men were suspended in April this year. Supt Ackerley, who is paid around £70,000 a year, will remain suspended on full pay until the end of the year when he will officially retire.

The audit report reveals a catalogue of shortcomings in the management of the lucrative contracts Supt Ackerley's wife was able to obtain from the force.

Although it refers to Mrs Ackerley's payments since 2001, the report focuses on arrangements since 2005, when Supt Ackerley set up a selection system for the employment of external training consultants.

The report adds: "Peta Ackerley has been called on regularly to undertake work, without proper procurement practices that would protect the Force from allegations of inappropriate influence being used."

Phil Willis, Liberal Democrat MP for Harrogate and Knaresborough, said: "Hopefully this episode brings to an end a period when North Yorkshire Police had a cavalier attitude to accountability for public money.

Labels: , , , , ,