11 January 2006

Tony Blair and the respect agenda continued...

I already posted this comment in the comments of my 'why Tony is right post', but I feel the points are so important, they need highlighting in a new post, so here it is;

I know, I know, it sounds terrible doesn't it to suggest that it is worth a few innocent people getting punished to enable us to punish the guilty, but we are talking about low level punishment and 100 pound fines here not the death penalty and nobody in their right mind would argue that it should be extended to anything other than low level punishment.

Also how likely is it that someone is innocent who is walking around an industrial estate or council estate at 2am with 10,000 in cash and no reasonable excuse for doing so?

Contrary to what you all seem to think, we have had summary justice for a long time and I have never seen any of you question it before.

Think of parking wardens dishing out parking fines. Think of fixed penalty fines for driving. Yes there are many cases of these fines being awarded unjustly (there is a process of appeal) but we can't allow it to clog up our criminal justice system at great expense. The time consuming nature of proving all these cases is just impractical.

All that Tony Blair and I am suggesting is that we extend this fixed penalty concept to low level crime such as anti-social behaviour.

Longrider, B4L, Urko etc. In the point I was making about the 10,000 cash scenario, I did point out that as long as they can provide a reasonable reason for this, they are fine.

If someone gets stopped at 2am in an industrial estate with 10,000 cash on them, I don't think the police should have to prove wrongdoing. I think its perfectly reasonable to ask someone to explain this situation and if they can't then I'm afraid they deserve to be punished.

All these high minded principles are great, but they sometimes conflict with the practical evidence. In low level cases, I don't see anything wrong in following practical solutions that work rather than sticking to high minded principles that just let the guilty off the hook and lead them onto higher levels of crime.

The evidence shows, if you can catch a criminal and prosecute them quickly and easily for low level crime, you stop them in their tracks and largely prevent them from progressing onto more serious offences. This is in the interests of all of us.


  1. As you've posted it again because it's important, so shall I:

    "how likely is it that someone is innocent who is walking around an industrial estate or council estate at 2am with 10,000 in cash and no reasonable excuse for doing so?"


    PC Plod: Hello sir - how'd you come by this here ten grand in a rucksack?

    Stooge: Eh? What ten grand? What rucksack?

    PC Plod: This one here, sir? Here, Plod 2, you saw him with this rucksack just now, didn't you?

    Plod 2: Yep. No doubt about it. He dropped it just now as he saw us coming.

    PC Plod: Now prove that two policemen are lying. Your word against ours. Ha.


    You, Mr Harding, are an imbecile. Even your own invented implausible scenario doesn't provide a good excuse for this pathetic policy.

  2. Do you really believe in in 'guilty until proven innocent'?

    "how likely is it that someone is innocent who is walking around an industrial estate or council estate at 2am with 10,000 in cash and no reasonable excuse for doing so?"

    We don't lock people up in this country for "probably" being up to no good.

  3. "Contrary to what you all seem to think, we have had summary justice for a long time and I have never seen any of you question it before."

    Oh I think my objections (and many other commenters too) go back to Magna Carta. I don't who you're referring to by "any of you" but speaking for myself, "summary justice" is an oxymoron.

    Parking fines aren't about justice; they're about the enforcement of property rights.

    "Think of fixed penalty fines for driving."

    I'm as ecologically-minded as the next cyclist, but when did driving become a crime? Keeping up with the Blairs is hard work! Speed cameras? A revenue scam, nothing else, and they should be abolished.

    And what, exactly, is anti-social about walking about with a fat wallet?

  4. we have had summary justice for a long time and I have never seen any of you question it before.

    Think of parking wardens dishing out parking fines. Think of fixed penalty fines for driving.

    You obviously haven't been looking. Neil Herron has forced Sunderland council to pay back over £30,000 for example and is trying to get to court to prove that they are illegal. There is and has been for a while opposition to the Revenue Robots, with people faring so far as to burn them.

  5. "...it sounds terrible doesn't it to suggest that it is worth a few innocent people getting punished to enable us to punish the guilty, but we are talking about low level punishment"

    Sounds like someone just volunteered to have their ears flicked once a day, just in case they might be doing something naughty. Please report to West Pier, 9am every morning for "low level" flickery.

    On a more serious note, I agree heartily with nosemonkey. The point is that suspicion is subjective. Anyone that relies on the ideas of "common sense" and "an obvious felon" has obviously never met or heard of anyone with a penchant for prejudice and power. Our legal system isn't supposed to just protect the "law-abiding" from the "natural-born crims". It needs equally to protect the "ruled" from the "rulers". Too many people forget this very simple fact, including you it seems.

    I have more comments here. Woo.

  6. Actually, the confiscatory system works quite well in Third World countries, where carrying large amounts of dollars may be both absolutely necessary for travel and completely illegal; in practice, a compromise is reached between the individual police and the victim, who goes on his way only a few dollars lighter.

  7. Just a small point in relation to neil's £10000 scenario.

    Since when has it been an offence to carry large sums of money irrespective of the location or the time ?

    what is the next stage ?? what other innocent actions will require explanation to our friends the police?

    civil liberties are under enough threat right now neil its time you saw through new labour and used your analytical powers to highlight the good policies.Slavish adherence to every measure only weakens your case.

  8. Neil,

    I assume it's perfectly okay for someone to walk around a middle class suburb carrying 10,000 in cash.

  9. Another essential point seems to be missed here, I think.

    How is punishing the innocent supposed to further the respect agenda? No doubt in Neil's neck of the woods the wrongly accused will no doubt tug their forelock and say, "Thank you, mister policeman" and then tell all their friends that "I was once wrongly punished and it never did any me harm."

    The rest of us will go, "Fuck Da Police", never trust them again, and spread that message as widely as we can.

    Neil, what your advocating here is the mechanism for further erosion of respect for authority and the fostering of grievance.

  10. Which shows how little you understnd the principles of law that pertained in England until recently.

    Parking wardens issued summons to appear in court, ditto traffic cops. On that summons one was offered the choice of attending court and arguing your case or paying an admission of guilt fine. In other words you were allowed to weigh the relative cost of time and money (lost income) against the likelyhood of winning your case.

    Nowadays we have fixed penalty CHARGES where you must pay and then appeal. (Note that the wording is changed because the Bill of Rights which is still a constitutional act of parliament on the statute books prohibits fines, forfeitures and siezures without due process of law).

    The difference may appear slight, but the underlying principle is a biggie. The first still presumes that you are innocent and the state is simply alleging it has a case against you. The second presumes that you are guilty becaue a security arm of the state says you are. You must pay up and they might listen to your pathetic excuses when they feel like it. The whole pallaver about councils being at risk of having to pay back billions in parking charges is based on this seemingly innocuous difference.

    Now I might be able to accept that your ignorance is due to the fact you are a product of the state comprehensive school system and you were not given lessons in the development of English law as part of the history syllabus. What does amaze me is that a government stacked full of human rights lawyers like this one can make the same mistake.


  11. If someone gets stopped at 2am in an industrial estate with 10,000 cash on them, I don't think the police should have to prove wrongdoing. I think its perfectly reasonable to ask someone to explain this situation and if they can't then I'm afraid they deserve to be punished.

    So you will be campaigning for a law that makes it an offence to be found in public with large sums of cash? Since you say such people "deserve" to be punished what punishment do you suggest?

    I can't believe I'm hearing this - you're a reasonable bloke, please, please think it through and consider whether you aren't being just a tiny bit over the top.

  12. I have never said a 100 quid fine was negligible, but it is a low level punishment. There would still be a chance of appeal if someone was deeply aggrieved by it.

    If you lot are against these measures, you are probably all against parking 'charges' and speeding fines as well.

    This is because you are being selfish. I imagine every comment here as come from middle class people who don't live in areas blighted by anti-social behaviour.

    Why is it ok to break speed limits when hundreds of people are killed every year as a result?

    Why shouldn't people who selfishly park in clogged town centres be subject to parking controls when they make the lives of the rest of us hell?

    And why should principle come before the obvious in low level cases like this?

    It is just not practical to use an expensive, time consuming legal system in cases as obvious as the 10,000 cash example.

    I'm sorry if you are going to carry large sums of money like this late at night, you should have a legitimate reason. It is a small price to pay to ensure that low level crime is effectively controlled.

    It is in all our interests, by letting low level crime go unpunished, we let criminals progress to more dangerous crimes. Which is worse?

    Someone give me a reason why someone would need to carry such large sums of money and not be able to give the police a legitimate reason. If you can't, you are just defending the rights of the drug dealers and thieves and what sort of principle is that?

  13. Ah the old "the end justifies the means" argument. I wondered how long it would take for that one to raise its ugly little head.

    Along with "the innocent have nothing to fear" cannard it must be one of the most over used phrases in the totalitarian lexicon.

    Have you ever read 1984? Have you ever looked at totalitarian regimes with eyes open enough to see more than "Uncle Tony" doesn't like them so I must hate them too?

    Every word you have bothered putting up here sounds like you are a "Dictatorship Buzzword Bingo"(TM) caller. If it was a Tory government proposing what Toxic Tony is proposing you'd be out on the streets burning down Starbucks. Where is your mind, man?

    And for the record, I am not against traffic fines. Of course I don't like them if I get them, but if I have earned them, then so be it. Most likely I will pay without going to court, but, by all that is holy, be prepared for war if I am not at least given the chance to argue my case before a properly constituted court of law. That is the true meaning of liberty and may the Good Lord have mercy on the soul of any pecksnit who tries to deprive me of it.



  14. "This is because you are being selfish. I imagine every comment here as come from middle class people who don't live in areas blighted by anti-social behaviour."

    What a typically left wing, snide comment - effectively "you dont agree with me so you must be better educated / earn more / be oppressing the workers - wwwaaahh!"

    Here's a ticket to the clue bus - I live in a low class, deprived area - have done all my life, as have my parents. I live with grafitti, vandalism, violence and "anti-social behaviour" on a daily basis. And guess what - these "measures" will do nothing but make the matters worse.

    You see, there is no such thing as "low level crime". People generally commit crime because of two reasons - theyre evil, or theyre desperate. Inflicting summary "justice" on someone who is desperate (usually the very poor) is only going to make them more desperate (and more likely to commit more crime). If theyre commiting crime because theyre evil then they wont give a stuff anyway, so any measures short of locking them up will have no effect.

    These measures are nothing but a sticking plaster over the gaping wounds that 3 terms of Princess Tony's rule have torn into this once great country. Youve built a culture of dependence on the state, and effectively abolished personal responsibility. Once personal responsibility has gone, the rest of society's foundation crumbles away like a quicksand foundation.

    Here's a newsflash - Im a pretty ordinary bloke, never been in trouble with the police, and was brought up to respect authority where its deserved. Ive instilled this in my kids, with a couple of exceptions. I now have a deep seated dislike for the police as an organisation, as they have not been there to aid me when Ive needed it. Ive a deep seated dislike of government because of the way we are constantly lied to. And Im teaching my kids to have the same healthy level of cynicsm to question why those in a position of power want something before capitulating. As far as Im concerned, the police are only there now in order to be revenue collectors - they certainly dont deal with crime any more.

    And this is the heart of respect - when a government disrespects its citizens (through measures such as constant surveillence, speed cameras, ID card & NIR proposals), then that authority deserves no respect from the law abiding, and will lose it.

    Summary "justice" with the chance of appeal (your words) is not the right way to go about resolving the problem - reinstating the lost liberties, checks and balances that this government have stripped away is.

  15. "And why should principle come before the obvious in low level cases like this?"

    Er... because that's what the word principle means?

    One doen't have to have a degree in languages to see that it comes from the same root as "principal" (another word for the head of something eg an American headmaster) and "prince" (the leader of a country).

    Principles are the basic beliefs that guide our actions. What guides actions must go before actions. What images do the following words "unprincipled" and "without principle" conjure up? I'll bet they aren't positive images, are they?

    Take my advice Neil, you aren't going to win this one. I think everyone here will accept it if you put your hands up and say "Sorry, guys. It's been a bad day. The dog was sick on the carpet, my wife pranged the car and my kid's just got an ASBO. I'm really sorry, I don't know what I was thinking." We all have days like that, we'll be with you.

    Besides, it's about the only way you're going to get out of this one with any dignity at all.


  16. Oh I give up!

    You lot want it both ways.

    The police are too soft followed by the police have too much power. Which is it?

    All I ask is for someone to give me a reason why its ok to have 10 grand in cash and no legitimate reason. If you can't answer that then Tony is right and you are wrong.

  17. You still don't get it, do you? It's not too much or too little power that's the problem. They have plenty of power under existing law. The problem is the state hampering the police exercising their existing powers and then when the chickens come home to roost giving them the wrong sort of power to try and sort the problem out.

    I don't have to prove that my possession of 10 grand is legitimate, the state must prove that it is illigitimate. The reason is simple: I am one man, an individual with very little power on my own. The state has infinitely more resources than I do. That is why the state must do all the work, not me.

    Sorry you've had such a bad day. Better luck tommorrow.


  18. would it be ok to carry around a blank bankers draft for £10000?

    just as a deposit on a student flat you understand!!!!

  19. The police are too soft followed by the police have too much power. Which is it?

    Both. The criminal justice system as a whole appears to be ineffective; yet the police have a lot of power and are being given more and more. Giving them more power will not solve the effectiveness issue. It's like having a powerful car that's stuck in mud - more power just results in more wheelspinning and digging a worse hole.

    Practical suggestions? I'd send some Taylorists into the police and court system to identify what's taking up everyone's time. It appears to take about one policeman/day to arrest someone, and more to get them punished. This is far too long. I think PACE and sucessive CJAs are part of the problem - the situation appears to have been better before PACE84. I suspect that a lot of redundant paperwork could be removed.

    I take it "It's my money and I'll do what I like with it" isn't something you regard as a legitimate reason? What happens if I claim it's from my business but the police seize it anyway?

  20. RM, YOU don't get it do you. You are just defending criminals with your principles.

    Nobody can give me an answer to the simple question I ask. If someone gives a reasonable answer to why they have 10 grand in cash on them, they are ok. Why would somebody not want to answer that question. Give me a reasonable scenario so I can change my mind on this, otherwise I'm just going to have to assume, that you don't care about low level crime.

    The criminal justice system is a bureaucratic mess. I can agree with you on that. But unfortunately due process is necessarily expensive and time consuming and it is just not practical with such low level crime to give due process. We have recognised that with a whole string of offences, live driving offences littering etc.

    There is always the appeals procedure if someone has been harshly dealt with. But we have to start dishing out fast effective measures to combat low level crime.

    The evidence tells us that zero tolerance and fast effective punishment reduces the numbers who go on to more serious crimes. Today's vandal is tomorrow's murderer if we let them go unpunished. You have to weigh up which is worse. Pissing off a few people who are treated harshly with fines and low level punishment (which they can still appeal against), is better than letting low level crime blight lives and develop into tomorrow's serious crime.

  21. What do you call a 'reasonable explanation', Neil? I've been in a situation where I've had £7000 in a bag overnight. A longer queue than I expected in one bank mean that the other bank I was moving it to was shut by the time I had finished. Doing it manually meant I could avoid transfer fees.

    It's legal to carry money. Your mates in Westminster don't mandate (yet) that I should carry a comprehensive audit trail of any money I have on my person. Fortunately, I'm one of those well-educated, high-earning, middle-class people you don't think are proper socialists, so perhaps the police would, on balance, believe me when I told them the money was mine and come by legitimately.

    What else makes a 'reasonable' excuse for carrying a briefcase of cash? How about "I'm taking it to the Finsbury Park Mosque - it's a charitable donation." Give up, Neil, or at least stage an ID Cards-style conversion. Watching you thrash around is getting dull.

  22. Both of the reasons you give are legitimate. There would only be a problem if someone refuses to give a legitimate reason. Explain why someone would refuse to give a reason?

  23. "Nobody can give me an answer to the simple question I ask. If someone gives a reasonable answer to why they have 10 grand in cash on them, they are ok. Why would somebody not want to answer that question."

    Ok I'll bite.
    Legitimate reasons to be carrying 10k - just bought or sold a car / boat / item of high value, business takings for the week etc.

    If asked by an "official" why carrying that amount - Its legitimate but none of the government's or police's fecking business. Dont want to anser because of the same reason.
    Give me one good reason why the police should be bothering a law abiding citizen in the first place?

    "The police are too soft followed by the police have too much power. Which is it?"
    The police "on the beat" are hampered by paperwork, and from speaking with some of them they are just as frustrated at not being able to get teh scum behind bars as the law abiding citizen is. Whats soft isnt the bobby on the street, but the politically correct (and now politcally controlled) upper echelons, and the entire criminal justice system (which is now run by lawyers, for laywers). The police have too much power in that they are now being asked to be protector, judge, jury and convictor of crime. This is utterly biased and gives no protecton to the innocent when abused. Rights of appeal do not cut it - if Im suspected of a crime then the police should have enough evidence to prosecute by court of law.

    I ask you - why should I have to waste *my* valuable time proving my innocence when the burden should lie on the state to prove my guilt. This is the whole premise of innocent until proven guilty, something this government are finding increasily easy to ignore. This attitude of "the state is right, the individual is wrong" sickens me to the core.

    Im with you in that "The evidence tells us that zero tolerance and fast effective punishment " is the way forwards, however not at the expense of the innocent citizen. The problem at the moment lies in the fact that even in cases where guilt is proved, there is little effective punishment. Only half the duration of sentences is served, even for the most serious of crimes, and thats if a custodial sentence is given in the first place.

    Its the justice system that needs reformation in order to provide a fast, efficient prosecution of crime - not Judge Dredd style summary justice delivered on the streets.

  24. Both of the reasons you give are legitimate.

    Hang on, Neil - so you're saying that if your putative drug dealer sucks his teeth and says, 'I earned it, guv', or, 'It's to buy a new headmaster for the City Academy round the corner', then the policeman has to let him go?

    This doesn't sound awfully sensible to me.

  25. Nobody can give me an answer to the simple question I ask.

    There are all sorts of reasonable answers

    If someone gives a reasonable answer to why they have 10 grand in cash on them, they are ok. Why would somebody not want to answer that question. Give me a reasonable scenario so I can change my mind on this

    Police: Why 'ave you got ten grand in this bag sir?
    Me: It's my pub takings; I've just closed up and would rather not leave it in the tills overnight.
    Police: Wasn't that the pub with the dealing going on? Looks like drug money to me. I'll have that. You can have it back in 6 months, at your own time and expense in the courts.

    Otherwise I'm just going to have to assume, that you don't care about low level crime.

    You think any crime involving ten grand is low level?

    The evidence tells us that zero tolerance and fast effective punishment reduces the numbers who go on to more serious crimes.

    This seems to be true. But: "Pissing off a few people who are treated harshly with fines and low level punishment [is ok]" is not - it's the sort of thing that starts riots and erodes trust in the police. Without trust the police are blind; nobody will tell them anything.

    You can see this already in the way that nobody will intervene in street violence, petty crime, or "disrespect" for fear that they will be prosecuted for assault.

  26. This is fast being turned into a "cash is inherently evil" thing by our host. Cash can't be tracked or monitored, and therefore only criminals use it.

    Here's a (marginally) better scenario. Hoodie-toter A gets picked up by a policeman for said item of clothing in a CCTV-ubiquitous area. (The 2 are mutually exclusive.) Toter A is marched to the nearest ATM to extract a "negligible" fine - 100 quid, let's say.

    But on accessing the cash point, Policeperson also happens to note that said toter A has 10,000 quid in his or her account. (After all, you have to check the balance to make sure the kid can pay this.)

    You've already established suspicion and/or guilt by imposing the small fine. You've established that this is a person of "anti-social tendencies". Should you be right, therefore, in being equally suspicious about the 10,000 in his/her bank account? Should you then force him/her to hand over bank account details, so the money can be "confiscated" by the Police 20 minutes later, only to be given back once toter A has supplied all his receipts to the local station?

    OK, that's exercise 1. Now exercise 2.

    Moderately-wealthy guy B goes out on the town and has a few drinks with some mates, gets a bit lairy, maybe gets into a fight. Might have a couple of hundred on his body, or at least a credit card with access to the same amount as Hoodie-Toter A. People find his behaviour incredibly annoying and distasteful, but hey, he's surrounded by beautiful women and has a sleek coat on. Is he more or less likely to get picked up by the police than A?

    The point is that the targets of these "tough measures" are increasingly subjective. As your posts have shown, the people who you want to be arrested are the people you don't like, and that you aren't willing to put up with. But what about all the people who you don't like necessarily, but feel like you have to put up with?

    If rich guy C starts selling drugs, but has an excuse for carrying a few grand on him (he's rich), should he be arrested or not? (Assuming that there's no evidence of drug-selling on him at the time.)

    Your pushing for proof that some people are innocent simply proves further just how subjective and discriminatory these powers are. The message is clear: the already-downtrodden deserve everything we can dish out to them. Everyone else can get away with it.

  27. And suppose the police don't buy your reason? (Not that they should be asking, anyway.)

    Mrs Jackson said yesterday her briefcase was searched after she went through a security check at Los Angeles airport.
    Among her documents were detailed plans of new aircraft, including cross-section diagrams showing seat layouts.
    "The guy said 'Why have you got all of this?'," she told the Herald Sun.
    "And I said, 'I'm the chairman of an airline. I'm the chairman of Qantas'. And this black guy, who was, like, eight foot tall, said, 'But you're a woman'."


    Can't you just imagine the police saying, "but you're a woman/black/too young/too scruffy to have that kind of money?

  28. Okay, reasonable scenario involving self:

    Once a year I help a local charity run a three day festival. We collect literally thousands per day, all cash. Since it's held over the weekend and the charity is not a regular trader we can't get drop safe keys (they cost too much anyway). I'm big and beefy so the ladies often ask me or one of the other guys to look after the takings until the cash count the next morning. Being a gentleman I naturally agree.

    Last year I went home on Saturday night with nearly 20 grand (pound value) in a lock box. Strangely enough the route from the festival ground to my home passes through the town's indutrial area.

    Imagine the scene had Plod SA decided he wanted to stop me and chat. I'd finished my third 18 hour day serving the district's finest drunks in the beer garden. I stank of booze, looked like hell and wanted nothing but a shower and bed. I was driving a clapped out old pickup rather than my usual classy mode of transport because we always need to move stuff around the festival.

    Even if I were co-operative which given my state and the time of night is unlikely, as a charity volunteer I had no "official" ID to prove I was involved with the festival. All my freinds were in bed with their cellphones switched off. Oh and since it's SA and I was carrying a huge sum of money I also had my gun with me.

    By your way of thinking I should have been hauled off and bunged straight into Cell Three (the one where all the wife beaters and child molesters get put - it's also the furthest from the custody desk because the officers on duty don't like the screaming). Even on Saturday they should have been able to squeeze me in.

    Now can you see why I think Tony is a complete plonker?


  29. Anybody harshly treated can appeal.

    We all know there are plenty of legitimate reasons to be walking around late at night with 10k cash. But what is the explanation for not being able to provide this legitimate reason when asked (of course some sort of proof would also be required)? I'm sorry but if you just can't be arsed to give an explanation, as it's 'none of the police's business' then you just have to be prepared to lose your money. I'm sure faced with that choice, most would relent and tell what the reason is.

    Everybody blames bureaucracy on the state, but the main reason for the clogged up criminal justice system is people calling for due process. Due process is necessarily bureaucratic. I'm all for cutting solicitors, barristors and judge's wages but you lot would be the first to complain about this 'cut'. I'd pay them for the number of cases they get through, not the number of hours, that would speed things up. At the moment it is in their interest to drag it out as long as possible.

    All the right wing criticise the inefficiencies of public services but they never go on about the most inefficient of the lot, i.e. the police.

  30. (of course some sort of proof would also be required)

    Oh come on, engage your brain - on the spot proof? How? And who judges the proof? Can't I just carry the same V5 around with me for ages as 'proof' that I've just sold a car?

    Open your wallet. Now, prove to me that the cash you've got in there is from legitimate reason. Otherwise, post it to me.

  31. I am now waiting patiently for Neil to harrumph and tell you that it's not up to him to work out what sort of proof is needed - it's up to you, because you don't believe in it. Or because you're middle class. Or because you're a Thatcherite, and it's *his* blog. Or something.

    I think we've already established in comments passim that the burden of proof is a concept Neil has particular trouble with, the poor lamb.

  32. How do you appeal against being raped by ten guys (there's a 1 in 4 chance of each one being HIV positive around here, by the way) just because Plod was bored and didn't like you because you were white, armed, scruffy and smelly And the fact you didn't have five forms of proof as to why you were in possession of R200,000 at four in the morning gave him "due cause" to mess you around.

    You still haven't convinced me as to why we must turn legal protections developed over a thousand years just to get a few chavs off the streets. Proper policing will do it far better and without pissing off the rest of us.


  33. Neil, erm... I know that we don't have it in this country, but it is nonetheless based on sound principles - have you ever heard of the fifth amendment? Or do you take the view that everyone who's ever taken the fifth must have been guilty? Like all those people during the the House Un-American Activities Committee hearings...

    Still, that's only vaguely relevant. The point is merely whether the state should have the right to demand to know what a private citizen is doing. Sod your pet ten grand - by extending your logic, if a policeman knocks on your door and asks to search your house and you refuse to let him you should also be done, as you're obviously guilty.

    Of course, old man plod doesn't know precisely what it is you're guilty of (just as he doesn't with your ten grand scenario), but by what you're proposing, merely raising someone's suspicions is reason for punishment by the state.

    And so we come to a typically fascist scenario (viz Stalin's Russia) where one of your neighbours turns the police on you, you get a swift bit of summary justice whether their accusations are valid or not. Rather than increase respect, you increase fear. Rather than increase community cohesion, the fact your neighbour can anonymously shop you for a fabricated crime and you are automatically presumed guilty, the community fractures even further.

    But, of course, it's ONLY £100, not a trip to Siberia, and you'd have the right to appeal, so it's MUCH better, isn't it?

    The trouble is, not only would the appeal process cost money but it would also waste police and court time and resources. Thus not solving any of the problems this professes to be trying to tackle. At all.

  34. An example of this sort of crackdown on low-level crime:


  35. Why is it ok to break speed limits when hundreds of people are killed every year as a result?

    Wrong! Speed does not kill; bad driving (and careless pedestrians) cause accidents. Next.

    All I ask is for someone to give me a reason why its ok to have 10 grand in cash and no legitimate reason.

    Oh, for fuck's sake, will you just listen to yourself? A. Person. Is. Assumed. Innocent. Until. Proven. Guilty. OK? Ok.

    I've been in a situation where I've had £7000 in a bag overnight. A longer queue than I expected in one bank mean that the other bank I was moving it to was shut by the time I had finished. Doing it manually meant I could avoid transfer fees.

    OK? Now, watch this, Neil...

    Both of the reasons you give are legitimate.

    Do you see what you've done there? You've utterly failed to ask him where he got the money in the first place.

    If you can't even apply your own paradigm, I suggest that you go and find the nearest duck pond and drown yourself in it.


  36. Almost all of these sorts of scenarios can be turned on their head when the suspect is really an undercover agent and this isn't known to the accuser or assailant. (see the case of Gladstone Williams for an amusing example). The agent might well not have a cover story convincing to the local copper, particularly if he were bent and wanted his slice of the cash (and there'd be more of these people in the police in Hardingworld).

    The court records and royal commissions show that the various arms of the state don't or can't always inform each other of undercover operations.

    Anyway, this whole debate is silly. Neil Harding does not believe in due process of law or any sort of procedural justice or right to a fair trial. He's free to hold his offensive, ignorant and dangerous opinion, and should be grateful that society allows him to do so, which it wouldn't if his kind were in power for too long.

    What happens now is that Mr Harding will post a whole bunch of anodyne tripe to the frontpage of his blog to stop anyone seeing how badly he has come off in this exchange.

  37. Just out of interest, Neil - why did you change the title of your blog?

  38. Why should anyone be questioned on why they have that amount of money? After all we have a fine legal system - aside from the meddling of new labour types into it.

    The only problem with this arguement is as follows:
    1. Your not likely to see a policeman at night - not down my way any way.
    2. He or she wont have the 10K for long as they are liable to be happy slapped by some hoodies in short order.
    3. He or she is most likely trying to get the money out of the UK before ol Gordon "CYCLOPS" Brown taxes it out of his pocket,

  39. You can post your views as much as you like, but that doesn't make them any less ridiculous, you silly silly man.

    I'd love to see Tony Blair's face if he read your posts and realised what sort of hearts and minds he's winning over.

  40. "All I ask is for someone to give me a reason why its ok to have 10 grand in cash and no legitimate reason."

    All I ask is you give us a reason for your obsession with one unlikely hypothetical yet hold complete disregard for any principles.

    BTW 'None of your business' why I've got 28 quid on me.

  41. And Anonymous's link to the BBC article about the Oxford Student - Gay Horse debacle allows me to give an illustration of just how low NuLabour's pc agenda and politicisation of the police has dragged Britain's reputation.

    Driving home last night, listening to SABC's flagship evening news radio the story featured. Not as headline news or anything. No it was at the "Tommy the Tapdancing Turtle" end of the news. The lead (or lede for our American chums) was basically "Look at what those stupid Brits have gone and done now". The newsreaders didn't even bother to hide their laughter, which for the staid SABC is almost unheard of.

    Yes, NuLabour's pc fixation has made the country of my birth a laughing stock even in the wilds of Africa. Congrats the Labour Party! Really well done!

    Now, Neil, you've been demanding that we give you some reasonable explaination for an unlikely event which shouldn't need explaination in the first place. How about you giving us a reasonable reason for for the police having the power to arrest and charge people for being stupid and mildly offensive?


  42. Dear Neil,

    I tried to keep my response to some of your observations short, but I failed, so I've turned it into a blog post of my own, please feel free tor ead my reasoning here.

    I hope you don't object to the title too much, it is meant, as with all things, to be tongue in cheek, but, well, it did seem apposite.

    Best regards,

    Mat Bowles,
    a formed Labour voter.

  43. RM, I think the reason the UK has such a bad reputation in some places is because we permit the media moguls to control the news to fit their corporate agenda. Their aims will always be lower taxation and they will use whatever distortion they can to achieve it.

  44. "RM, I think the reason the UK has such a bad reputation in some places is because we permit the media moguls to control the news to fit their corporate agenda. Their aims will always be lower taxation and they will use whatever distortion they can to achieve it."

    Outstanding. The world famous Gay Police Horse is a "distortion" by
    "media moguls" in order to achieve "lower taxation."

    How does that work exactly? I mean, did the transnational media elites make it up? And how does it tie into a low-tax agenda?

    Please, keep digging.

  45. I'm sure the story is in substance true and of course it is a case where a police officer should have used some common sense, but we don't know exactly how provocative and threatening this person was being.

    If you drunkenly start taking the mickey out of a police officer, you are not exactly being sensible, no matter how jokey the insults are. There is more to this story than the headline obviously.

  46. Thanks for not deleting this, like you did my last comment.

    I have no doubt the student involved was both drunk and annoying. Threatening? Two coppers on horseback? I think not. Pre-PACE he would certainly have been nicked for being drunk & disorderly. In Nu-Britain, the boy is charged with equine homophobia. Please do not blame the worldwide derision on low tax tranzi media elites. The rest of the world is laughing because because the police and criminal justice system of this nation has been reduced to an sinister and idiotic farce. You wish to give summary powers to those who brought these grotesque charges. Think on... I promise you, the results will not be funny.

  47. Carter, I can assure you I have not deleted any comments. Sometimes the word verification plays up if it is a particularly long comment. It is best to check it has posted properly. I promise you I never delete comments. (unless they are truly offensive - racist etc.)

  48. Carter, on your point; Its easy to pick on one individual idiotic case but that is always going to happen in any particular field. It is the logic of the Daily Mail. Look at the whole picture, there are plenty of cases where the due process has completely failed but that doesn't mean it is completely useless does it?

    Summary powers are fine as long as their use is properly and clearly defined and limited to low level action such as fines, ASBOs etc.

    Like I say ASBOs were ridiculed by the libertarian elite and criminal justice elite (who obviously have most to lose), but they have proven successful and now even the Greens are considering supporting them.

  49. Presumption of guilt,summary justice, intrusive state surveillance and ID cards (which you also, predictably, support) are all hallmarks of a police state. If I wished to live in such a country I would emigrate to Paraguay.

    You and your kind have put us on a very slippery slope here, going downhill fast.Things are going to get really nasty when we hit the bottom.

    Daily Mail? Never read the rag.

    Face it....your brand of cultural marxism has been nothing but a 40 year long train wreck. You are now flailing around in a mess of your own making, desperately trying to fix that which you have broken.

    It would be comic were the consequences not so dire.

  50. Neil, Now you really are loosing the plot.

    Anon's link was to the BBC website. Last time I looked that organisation was a public broadcaster supported by a pole tax on all tv owners. Hardly the sort of media conglomerate that seems to give you nightmares.

    The website quoted a Thames Valley spokesman who said:

    "We present the case to the CPS and the CPS make the decision to proceed or not.

    "He made homophobic comments that were deemed offensive to people passing by."

    As I read the official explanation (and someone may correct me here) there was no actual coplaint by the public, merely the policeman's belief that someone "might" be offended.

    Doesn't this come back to the crux of the whole arguement here? The cops have been given all sorts of powers that allow them to arrest and attempt to prosecute based simply on perception. If your proposal came about this guy would not have had a chance. TVC and the CPS would have forced him to pay an eighty quid fine. Now you proibable have some sort of prejudice against anyone who goes to Oxford, but I suspect that eighty quid is not a small sum for any student. Of course under your proposal, in a few years time some tribunal might have heard his case and refunded the money (without interest of course). As it was, a magistrate managed to see the case for what it was, bullshit, and threw it out. That is why we have due process. One up for the English justice system I think.


  51. By the way, the SABC was and is modeled on the BBC. It is also supported by a tv licence.

    Given that it generally portrays a pro-ANC flavour (as it once showed a pro-National Party leaning) I don't think it's fair to describe that organisation as the plaything of some media Doctor Evil either.


  52. How exactly have ASBOs proved successful? I don't understand the mechanism. They seem to work by criminalising things which are already criminal - so they are effectively a means of diverting police priorities.

  53. Dude, i'm guessing you don't know any criminals, other than the people you've occaisionally scored off, with whom you've never had more than the conversation required to cough up the readies?

    Let me assure you as somebody who spent 16 years as a criminal in the grip of drug addiction, the policy advocated in the Govt's Respect Action Plan will not deter anyone from crime nor will it reduce it's incidence.

    Why can't the police catch successful drug dealers? It's much simpler than most people would think: to rise up the ladder of drug dealing is actually a very complicated business, to be a success at which one is required to combine, usually in 1 person, all the usual management and economic skills of any retail operation; plus the insight into behaviour of a social worker; the prudence of a security agency and an ability to predict trends in a highly fluid business and social environment; including being able to remain calm enough to think clearly in repetetive catastrophies. Add to this an often astronomical personal habit and the fact that mistakes could quite easily get you killed, severely beaten or jailed for so long you may as well have died and you'll see that, as well as the raw intelligence, it also requires a massive pair of brass bollocks.

    Pitted against these people are who exactly? Plod.

    I'm certain that you can see that taking money from the poorest makes no difference to their lives whatsoever? If you can't pay, you don't pay. For more from me on the wider effects of this: go here.

  54. edjog:

    I think all drugs should be legalised but strictly controlled by the state (and heavily taxed).

    Prison's don't rehabilitate, they are generally universities of crime. I am all for restorative punishment, actually putting right what you are guilty of.

    As for fining the poor, a hundred pounds is a lot to some people obviously, but even someone on the dole could afford to pay it off a few pounds a week. If someone is cuaght doing something wrong, some corrective action has to be taken. The problem is too many people are not being corrected of the more trivial crimes and are progressing to more serious offences. It's not good for them to avoid punishment and it's not good for society as a whole either.

  55. Anon: 42% of people issued ASBOs keep to them and the rest are punished further. 42% might not sound a lot, but it is probably much better than letting them get away with their anti-social behaviour.

    Crime is plummeting in this country. This is a combination of lots of factors, including lower unemployment, better public services and more targeting of taxation and benefits to help the poorest. But also it is a result of better targeting of crime by this government, closing crack-houses etc.

  56. Neil, do you seriously imagine that because 42% of people who have been placed under an ASBO don't get arrested again for the period in which it remains active that they are not committing crime?

    Amongst a community of which i am a member, it's a standing joke than when a person gives up our previous lifestyle, we suddenly find ourselves at a loss as to how to obtain even the simplest goods and services, because we have been used to getting everything through crime. Seriously, we have to support each other with help and advice through this transition period; it's only the shared identification that makes it funny.

    It really is the worst kind of blinkeredness that allows anyone to persist in repeating the notion that punishment deters crime. I know it's a difficult one to get your head around, because our Judeo-Christian based moral codes are drummed into us from the get go, however it is a logical fallacy. All crime which harms another is only possible through a dysfunction of empathy. If we were able or allowed ourselves to grasp the full emotional impact on our victim of the offence, we wouldn't do it. Add to that much crime being made attractive by economic circumstances, a perceived need which outweighs any thought about the consequences and you can surely see that if a person is chronically or temporarily unable or unwilling to consider the ramifications of their conduct, consequences of that conduct have no bearing, ipso facto.

    How does this lack of an ability to empathise come about? By living in an unsafe environment. Experience teaches us that if you give an inch, you'll lose a mile. We become detached emotionally from our fellows. This, incidentally, is why it takes elements of controlled brutality to turn 'normal' young people into soldiers, to make it possible for them to commit the worst crimes of all and why, despite training, many are emotionally ruined by the experience. It's also why, despite all kinds of systems of punishment being experimented with, crime persists.

    There is only one remedy, which you rightly point to: bettering the circumstances of the poorest. It is this which is driving down crime. However, if these measures are not kept up and if harsher measures are taken against what is already an underclass, we will see a surge in crime, as we did in the 90's. Which was caused by a gradual decline in the real value of benefit against inflation, legislation which made people less secure in their jobs and tended to curb the rise of the wages of the lowest paid, economic disaster countrywide and an inability of government to afford the level of policing that would have been required to curb it.

    Now, whichever party comes into power, i have little doubt that "tough on crime" will be a slogan we will not hear the last of, however any attempt to actually push through regressive social policy will result in a backlash from a situation which is currently inherently precarious, because of its transitional nature. This time though it will be worse: there are a lot more guns on the streets of Britain than there used to be and crack cocaine makes people a lot more prepared to use them.

    I agree that drugs should be legalised. All drugs. But not taxed or controlled in the way you suggest. Rather available at a price which does not require crime to support their use. A price that actually reflects the market value of the product, if it were not hyped up by the effects of prohibition. That is the only way to curb gangsterism also. As it was with alcohol prohibition in the US.

  57. edjog:

    I think ASBOs make it MORE difficult for someone to commit crime.

    I agree with you totally about the causes of crime. It is a result of the environment people find themselves in. Improving this environment will have by far the biggest impact, but there will always be a need to have some penalties as well. I would favour restorative penalties but those who posed a serious danger to the public would have to be locked up.

    You are also right to point out that the levels of taxation on drugs would have to be low enough to discourage the black market.

    For drugs like heroin and cocaine etc, they would have to be restricted to some secure environment (maybe shooting galleries could be in hospitals) to ensure these drugs don't become available to children. Prohibition of drugs is quite clearly failing.

  58. To be fair Neil, you seem like a reasonable man. When i caught your post @ GB not LE i just thought you were another person with a very deluded sense of what's going on, stated my piece, insulted and left: as is my wont. However, reading some of the stuff you've posted on here makes me think you're open to ideas, which is why i'm back.

    Just read back through what you just wrote for me a sec. Do you see any pattern to the language you use? Again, TBF, i'll not be surprised if you don't. It's a very common thing.

    "the environment people find themselves in"

    Let me tell you, i am one of those "people" and i didn't "find myself" in any "environment". I was so confused by events beyond my control, the chaos and seeming pointlessness of almost everything i was surrounded by, i had no idea what was going on, let alone what my place in it might be. All i knew was that almost every aspect of my life caused me grief, unremittingly. At the age of 13, when i first encountered a mood altering substance, i was already so messed up emotionally that i recklessly tried it and as soon as i discovered that it took away intolerable feelings, my inability to deal with which had been getting me into trouble for years, i had no option but to continue using substances, because it wasn't just that i'd never learned any other way of coping, i'd never been exposed to the idea that there were other ways. I had no choice. My addiction and subsequent criminality was forced on me by circumstances.

    That's not to say that it's not my responsibility. It clearly is, but there is a massive difference between responsibilty and culpability; just one that popular morality hasn't actually cottened onto very well. Only i am able to respond to my emotional dysfunctionality in any way which is actually productive and after extensive therapy for it, these days i generally do. "Penalties" didn't bring this about: healing did. If the full extent of my criminality had been known when things got really bad, i would still be in jail, maybe just getting my first serious chance at parole. Seriously, i did some appalling things, the shame over which still haunts me.

    Since 1997 i have harmed another exactly twice, both times whilst being forced by my new found sense of empathy to intervene in terrifying violence perpetrated on others who were almost strangers to me. The primary stage of my healing took 7.5 months (after 16 years bang, and i do mean 'bang' at it), but requires constant top-up (at no cost to anyone except our self supporting community). In that time i've made some amends directly, some it wouldn't be fair on anyone concerned for me to show my face: i make amends indirectly to society at large. Tell me how "penalties" would make this situation better.

    "restricted to some secure environment"

    What, you mean in the same way as substances like Toluene & N-Hexane mixture, consumption of a single mouthful of which by a child would cause sudden and massive degradation of fatty tissues in the major organs, almost certainly fatal, but in the unlikely event that life was sustained, would cause cancer of the liver and bowel and would have likely already caused considerable brain damage; is also highly inflammable, dangerous by inhalation and potentially far more explosive even than pressurised butane, you mean? It's Evostick thinners.

    "shooting galleries"

    At the worst of my addiction, i frequented many such places. Though they were the scenes of horrible human degradation, i never once heard a fellow addict refer to them as anything other than what they were: squats or so-and-so's place. These are people's homes. The fact that awful things go on in them is not because we are morally deficient or different somehow, it is because we are suffering from a tragic, but treatable, mental illness.

    If you want to see this problem at all clearly, you need to drop this underlying notion of 'us and them'. Nobody wakes up one morning and thinks, "I know, today, for no apparent reason, i'll become the scum of the earth. That sounds like a top buzz." It happens, and i include myself in the appelation, in tiny steps, each leading to the next little mistake which compounds the last. Have you any idea how offensive that notion is?

    How do you expect people who are already ostracised from society to have any respect or desire to integrate into society if they are stigmatised and forced into a special category of substance users? Or perhaps you think that pubs should also be relocated to hospitals? The problem is not the drugs themselves, it is the mental illness that leads to addiction. The physical symptoms of addiction, although severe, actually only last a short time, but there is no need to suffer more than mild discomfort anyway, as one can be slowly weaned off any drug just in the same way as a patient receives a gradually reducing dose of strong painkillers that they may be physically dependant on prior to an operation.

    Many people use these drugs without significant harm. Some of them are celebrated figures. Apart from the odd scandal and rumour, how do i know? Because i've sold them their supply. Without addicts being forced into crime, being ostracised or stygmatised, i'd bet my life that we wouldn't see anywhere near the level of degrading problems which are associated with chronic addiction now.

    When confronted with sickness, the civilised response is an attempt at healing. In a society which tolerates the conditions which force people into degrading sickness, you Neil are as culpable as anyone else for its continuance. Don't think it can't happen to you either. You think not? Try this. Get good and drunk tonight. Have a hair of the dog tomorrow. Top yourself up all day, so you don't feel rough. Get pissed tomorrow night also. Keep that up for one week, in your own home. Then see how hard it is to get your life back on track. Can't think of anything that might lead you to do that as anything other than an experiment? Good. I hope you never suffer such personal tragedy, but shit happens.

  59. edjog,

    I didn't for a minute want to argue a 'us and them' situation and I apologise if I gave that impression. I believe we all have the capabilities to abuse drugs and lose control of our lives. Although the more difficult a life the easier it is for this to happen.

    Your comments are the most illuminating I have ever read on this subject and I agree with a huge amount of what you are saying.

    I agree with Bertrand Russell that when something goes wrong with a human being (dysfunctional behaviour) then the solution should be the same as fixing a machine. If our car breaks down, obviously punishment is not going to make it work again. But saying that, some forms of punishment can act as a deterrent in some cases (but not all). I do think that any punishment does need to be rehabilitive if possible.

    I think Tony Blair's proposals for small fines are a useful deterrent. I understand why you disagree. I think they are a quick, efficient and cheap way of addressing a problem that is being totally ignored at present. Of course it is not a perfect solution, far from it. I don't think punishment can be done away with altogether. I do agree that prison is not a useful way of treating offenders, we need to change an attitude not just lock people up. There is no easy solution, but prison is not the answer. Thanks again for your comment.