And so it begins

Am I paranoid? Yes. Am I paranoid enough? Mayhap not.

Three years since ANPR was started. And they switch it on within months.

A national network of cameras and computers automatically logging car number plates will be in place within months, the BBC has learned.

Thousands of Automatic Number Plate Recognition cameras are already operating on Britain’s roads.

Police forces across England, Wales and Scotland will soon be able to share the information on one central computer.

Read my lips, for I fear that there may be some misunderstanding if attention is not paid: there is no need, excuse or justification for this action.

A national, searchable and centralised database of the movements of every driver is in no way beneficial to any individual, save those that mine the data for personal financial gain. Like advertisers, housebreakers and kidnappers.

ANPR is a very interesting technological solution to a problem that doesn’t exist. Crime now is no more complicated than it was twenty years ago; the really scary crimes are not any more common than they were then. Crimes in the eighties were solved by the same means that they are solved by now: interviewing suspects, speaking to witnesses and collecting forensic evidence at the scene. They are not solved by CCTV, and they will not be solved by keeping track of us when we go about our legal business.

However, legal actions by citizens that make life difficult for the state and for the police – legitimate protesters, journalists, lawyers and the like – will be tracked, and then it will become that little bit easier to make their lives difficult.

In current cases that means that protesters get stopped any time they approach London. If you mixed it with a little bit of Norn Iron history you could get very detailed travel details or troublesome individuals passed to murdering bastards. Neither of these is a good thing, to my mind.

So am I paranoid? Yes. But the things that I worry about I only worry about because things like them have happened before, and they will happen again. And they’ll keep happening until we all wise up to it.

That’ll be useful

The wonderfully comical Minister of State for the Home Department, Jacqui Smith, has clearly decided that the appropriate way to cope with being totally wrong on an issue is to be more wrong, and be more certain and louder about it.

Thusly, when the press, the public and the majority of MPs – in fact, seemingly everyone except Smith and her cabinet colleagues – are saying that ID cards are an expensive mistake and need culled, Jacqui has pushed on. Because she’s secure in her wrongness, and intends to continue on with being wrong in her wrongness.

It’s likely an attempt to make these bastardish ideas a reality, and difficult for any following government to get rid of. But because it’s obvious that the days of this government are numbered, she’s having to rush to get things in place.

Manchester will this autumn become the first city where people can sign up for an ID card, Jacqui Smith has said.

At a series of meetings on Wednesday, Ms Smith said post offices and pharmacies could play an important role in the success of the ID scheme, allowing people to give their fingerprints and a face scan while “out doing the shopping”.

Translation: the government has looked at the figures, and decided that it’ll have to pass the infrastructure cost onto us and the private sector. But it relies on companies signing up for a programme that can’t be finished until the next government take control, when the next government is almost certain to have a manifesto pledge to abandon the plan.

Which means that any private sector company that signs up at this stage is declaring that they’re really quite keen for the ID card to come in. I hope that they see this as a badge of honour, and put stickers in the doors of their establishment.

Because then I’ll be able to see, at a glance, the businesses that espouse ideas that I find totally abhorrent. And thusly I can take my hard-earned and spend it elsewhere.

A useful idea? From the Home Office? That’s quite useful…

Arrange into a sentence: that, fuck, shit

Cash is a wonderful thing. It is flexible, it is reliable, it is portable. It has been used for many years and it will continue to be used. However, there are some problems with it. It can be easily stolen, and it is difficult to trace.

The fact that it is difficult to trace means that it is easy for the state to steal. As in this case

A man has been ordered to forfeit more than £67,000 because he could not prove where the money came from.

Det Con Phil Davies, financial investigator for the division, said: “The onus was on the respondent to provide a lawful origin of the cash found in his possession.

“A legitimate source was not found and the cash was subsequently forfeited. “

Detective Constable Davies: you can take those ideas of yours, wrap them up in barbed wire, and shove them up your arse. The onus is never on the citizen to prove their innocence; it is always on the state to prove their guilt. That is how a fair society works, that is how the legal process is meant to work. This man may, or may not, have been guilty. But that is immaterial. The case could not be made in a fair court, so this fucked up excuse for legislation was used instead.

If you recall, when the Proceeds of Crime Act was enacted, we were told that it would only be used to go after really serious criminals. People who had stolen millions, or cheated on taxes of hundreds of thousands. And back then I said that, even if it was limited to those groups, it would still be wrong.

However, in this instance the full weight of the state – police, customs, benefits agencies, councils, etc – were brought in to claim a whopping £67,000. An amount of money that can’t have covered a third of the costs of the investigation. Doesn’t that makeyou feel happy about the entire state of affairs?

I’m confused

When the system of post horses was developed, did the various governments of the world attempt to make a list of who was sending notes to whom?

No, they did not.

When the ground-breaking system of semaphores was developed, did the government of France try to keep a log of every message sent?

No, they did not.

When the telegraph was invented, did the government try to keep a log of every communication?

No, they did not.

When wireless communication was invented, did any government even consider keeping a record of everything being sent?

No, they did not.

And do you know why? It wasn’t because there weren’t threats; the post horse system was misused by enemies of all types. The semaphore could have been used by enemy agents to send any number of unhelpful messages. The telegraph and wireless communications were very helpful to the Germans before and during both World Wars. Do you think that those threats were any less severe than the threats we face now?

It wasn’t because they couldn’t do it either; yes the resources of the state and of data processing were considerably less then than now, but so was the job at hand. A telegram was a massive thing to get, whereas phone calls and emails are ten-a-penny.

It was, simply, because there was no need for it then. And there is no need for it now, despite what GCHQ, the Home Office and the Labour party would have you believe.

But the fact that there is no need won’t stop it; no, ‘commmunications data’ on everything will still be collected. Every communication that you have will still be logged and everyone you associate with will be noted. Every time you answer the phone will be listed somewhere, and this will be accessible on the flimsiest of evidence, or no evidence at all if the requisitioner is of sufficient rank1.

All, of course, for your own protection. Doesn’t that make you feel secure?


1 – Going by the way that the RIPA went, that rank will probably be anything above tea-boy. But that’s not the point at all…

Disrepute? I’m surprised they know the meaning of the word

I’ve long known that identity is something that comes from you, not from the state. I’ve known it without knowing that I knew it; it’s probably only since I watch The Prisoner that I became aware of it. And it’s only since I became a tad more educated by smart folk that I’ve been able to explain it concisely.

But now that I know what I know, and now that I can explain it, I should state that I’m pretty fucked off that the Identity & Passport Service is so openly acting like this.

For years I’ve been saying that an national ID card represents a fundamental shift in the balance of ownership of the country. As it is, we are individuals who make up a country. We choose who we are, and the state deals with that. If we have an Identity service then the state decides who we can be, and we have less say in it.

From that article:

Eileen De Bont, 37, a receptionist, legally adopted the name of the BBC appeal’s mascot and updated her documents.

However, when she sought a new passport in the name of Pudsey Bear her application was turned down.

Mrs Bear, a mother-of-two daughters aged 10 and 13, changed her name legally through the UK Deed Poll Service and sent off her driver’s licence, bank cards, credit cards and tax forms to have them altered.

The Identity & Passport Service, which addressed her as ‘Mrs Bear’, told her in a letter: “It is deemed to be a frivolous change of name, which would bring IPS into disrepute. It could also pose problems for you at border control in some countries.

“IPS is not questioning the validity of the deed poll, however, it is not prepared to issue a passport in a frivolous name which could compromise our mission statement ‘safeguarding your identity’.”

Please note that last paragraph. The IPS is willing to accept that you are who you say you are, but it is not willing to issue you with a passport if it doesn’t like the name you have. Where the fuck do they get off? They are there to issue UK citizens with passports; that is their entire reason d’être. They are not there to safeguard your identity, they are not there to pass judgement on your choice of identity, they are not there to enforce anything other than anti-forgery standards. They are there to check that you are who you say you are and issue a passport in support of that.

Also: the ‘Identity’ at the start of their new title is swiftly bringing the UK state into disrepute, and their methods of operation bring themselves into disrepute. So their claim that they’re doing this to save their reputation is laughable.

But it’s a telling way of showing that the IPS is firm about doing what I’ve said all along that they would do: they’re not “guarding your identity” – they’re taking control of it. And if they have control of it, then you have no control.

Simple explanation

Will Jacqui Smith go? The BBC thinks now, and I (for once) agree with them.

Their logic is that she hasn’t committed enough of a gaffe that she will go entirely; she may go from the Home Office but she won’t go entirely.

My thinking is that she has committed several gaffes big enough to justify her going, to whit:

  • The stealing of money from the public and dressing it up as accidentally claiming things on expenses;
  • Being delusional about people wanting an ID card;
  • Wanting an ID card;
  • Calling in the police to deal with a party political issue;
  • Pushing Parliament to get rid of habeas corpus;
  • Drugs policy reversals.

And those are just the ones that come to mind immediately.

But still, I don’t think that she’ll go, for three reasons.

  1. Under Gordon Brown, being inept, money-grabbing and thuggish is not enough to get you out of office. No, you only go if you are disloyal or a threat to Brown; Smith is both loyal and no risk at all.
  2. Smith is very likely to lose her seat at the next election; she has nothing to lose by being a lightning rod for accusations of sleaze and ineptitude.
  3. While the current crop of bastards in government are dumb, but are any of them dumb enough to take the reigns of a department that has seen off John Reid, Charles Clarke and David Blunkett?

So, unfortunately, we’re stuck with the muppet for the foreseeable. Which is a shame.

Yay! More cameras!

I have this crazy idea about the role of the police in modern society; my theory is that the primary job of the police is to stop crime before it happens. To deter crime, if you will, through the medium of being a bit respected and being visible.

What I really don’t think they should be doing is using yet more hidden cameras to catch people doing things that shouldn’t really be crimes. Especially when the cops are just using cameras being driven by wannabe vigilantes.

Cars with spy cameras have taken to the streets of Greater Manchester to catch drivers using mobile phones, eating or doing anything illegal at the wheel.

Cameras on the two Smart cars, brainchild of safety group DriveSafe, photograph potential offenders and pass these on to police.

Fantastic. Some random anti-freedom nutjobs are going to be driving round, and spotting things that the police don’t and passing those things on. Of course, to do this, they’ll be recording hundred of thousands of innocent people obeying all the laws. Which provides people with a nice little get out.

See, to run a private CCTV system, the data protection act says that you have to do a few things. You have to declare that video is being taken. You have to let people know who they have to talk to to about it. And you have to be able to provide people with a means to obtain a copy of their appearances on tape.

I really hope that there’s a good few people in Manchester who use their rights under the Data Protection Act to swamp this illegal data mining. And then, once DriveSafe has been shown to be in violation of said act, I hope they sue it to fuck and stop anyone trying anything like that again.

But that’s just me.

A fucking “proviso”? My Christ…

Here’s a not to those mutherfucking, useless, spineless, amoral twats in government: free speech is not a proviso. Nor is it a loophole, nor is it an inconvenience. It is not something to be worked around when specifying those about whom we can’t make jokes or those opinions that we may voice.

Free speech is an absolute right, one that has been sadly neglected by Westminster for many years. It is something that governments have to learn to live with, not something that we should learn to live without.

Also: I really wish that the government would stop fucking using one badly written law to amend their previous badly written law from the previous year. How about doing the job properly first time out, eh?

“Not getting it” quotient: extremely high

The US Bill of Rights is generally held up as the best (so far) example of such things. It has enumerated a good number of rights, it’s lasted a couple of centuries and most of the rights are surprisingly relevant today, given the issues that were current in 1789.

There are other such things, but few of them were as succinct as the above. And few of them are as famous outside their own land. Some are successful, and some of them are lasting.

There is, apparently, to be a new attempted addition to this list, but I suspect that it’ll be neither successful or lasting. Because of the way they’re going about making it.

Justice Secretary Jack Straw has said the government’s planned Bill of Rights will define the UK’s “common values”.

He suggested that entitlements to free healthcare and education could be added to rights such as trial by jury and free speech.

Launching a new consultation paper, he told MPs that people’s responsibilities also had to be defined “explicitly”.

Note to the Demon Headmaster: NO THEY FUCKING DON’T, because if you produce an exhaustive list of rights, then the state will eventually decide that the populace don’t have any rights except those which are on the list. Which would, to my mind, be a bad thing.

Even if I did grant that such a list should be drawn up, the best way to arrive at it would certainly not be a ‘consultation paper'; nobody except dumb-ass activist charities and think tanks actually offers opinions, and they have a nasty habit of talking absolute wank.

Also: I’m not massively keen on those fucktards in Westminster telling me what my responsibilities are. Because they have a responsibility to provide leadership by example, and they’re not fucking doing it – they’re busy cheating, lying, thieving, bullying and in general doing things that would get the average citizen a nice stay at Her Majesty’s Pleasure. How they can get around to telling us what we shouldn’t be doing with tiny sums of money when they’re busy wasting billions?

In short, these people are the worst possible people to tell us what we should do, and they’re going the wrong way about finding out what they should be telling us, and they’re not likely to come up with anything sensible. So let’s stop now and save us a few quid, eh?

Note to HMRC

Tax evasion, the act of using illegal methods to minimise the tax you pay, is illegal.

Tax avoidance, the act of working within the law to minimise the tax you pay, is legal. In fact, it is not only legal, but both morally and fiscally responsible.

So why the flippedy fuck are HMRC “investigating” allegations of tax avoidance at Barclays? They’re investigating looking for evidence of people obeying the law?

Nice to see that they’re proving my point: government should be given the minimum money possible lest they waste it doing stupid things like this…

Phew

It’s rare for someone with views like mine to look at a politician and think “they get it”. Politics doesn’t seem to really attract too many people who realise that government is a big part of the problem, and that the solution is for many things is not government action, but government inaction.

In fact, the only person in UK mainstream politics who has ever got close to that is one David Davis, who is well known for striking away from party lines in the direction of libertarianism. Yes, he has a few daft ideas but he seems to be largely on the side of the angels. I would say that he gets it.

So imagine my surprise t’other when I heard on the radio the following:

Conservative MP David Davies has called on abusive protests against serving military personnel to be outlawed.

The Monmouth MP has tabled an amendment to a bill governing religious hatred that would extend protection to the Armed Forces.

It would make it an offence to incite hatred against serving soldiers.

Aw fuck, thought I, he doesn’t get it at all. So that’s 646 MPs, not one with a clue. Balls

However, upon further investigation, it’s not that bad. It’s a different Conservative MP called David Davies who thinks that making protest illegal is sensible. So it’s only 645 MPs who have not a clue, meaning that nearly 0.2% of MPs don’t make me scared for the future.

Do you think that David Davis will take David Davies to one side and explain to him that just because you find something distasteful doesn’t mean that it should be illegal? Morals and morality shouldn’t transpose to laws and legality, for you new know who’ll find your actions immoral in the future…

I really don’t like this man

Bloody hell. I don’t know how he does it, but every time that Doctor Sir Liam Donaldson opens his gob, he seems to come out with something outlandishly stupid. And illiberal. And petty.

Latest effort: minimum prices for alcohol.

You may remember, last week the Scottish parliament decided, in its ignorance, that people were just too stupid to do what they wanted with their own bodies, and that they should be subjected to a minimum price for alcohol of around 40 pence per unit*. They decided to do this without changing the law or anything like that, because they’re a bunch of fuckers. But at least they have the country with the worst drinking habit in Great Britain to contend with.

Sir Liam does not have a problem (if you call it a problem; I don’t) on the same scale. But that’s not stopping him at all.

The government’s top medical adviser has drawn up plans for a minimum price for alcohol which would double the cost of some drinks in England.

Under the proposal from Sir Liam Donaldson, it has been reported that no drinks could be sold for less than 50 pence per unit of alcohol they contain.

So he’s decided that England should out puritanism the Scots on this issue. Because he too is a fucker.

I also like this bit from the article: Ministers are determined to tackle the problem of alcohol misuse, which impacts on health, crime and anti-social behaviour.

Of course ministers are determined. It’s because the Prime Minister is a puritanical fuckwit, who has as yet never resisted an urge to meddle. And because his government is populated by fuckwits who can never restrain themselves from appearing to do something about problems that aren’t problems. Because they’re the actual problem, and fixing that problem would involve them resigning to a padded cell somewhere.

And with that happy image in my head, I’m away to see if I can get a flight in. Ta-ra for now…


* – The unit, as we all know, being that measured by thinking of a number, dividing it by 7.25, adding the 0, multiplying by pi and then turning around three times singing the national anthem of your choice. Well, obviously it’s not that, but try to get a sensible definition of it and see how far you get…

It’s been a sad day

And to continue with another song:

Duh-duh-dun-dun-dun, another one bites the dust.

Switzerland, the world’s largest offshore financial centre, has agreed to accept concessions on bank secrecy.

Andorra, Liechtenstein, Austria and Luxembourg have also just agreed to sign up to the OECD rules.

That’s a shame. The Swiss managed to keep their secrecy through the depression, a series of wars enveloping them and fifty years of relentless pressure by greedy tax departments* from all over the world. But now they’ve caved. As have other countries. And just this week Jersey signed a deal to be more ‘cooperative’ with Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs.

So people with a (perfectly sensible) desire not to pay nearly fifty percent of everything they ear to a bunch of wasteful feckers are just going to have to kick in with proper criminal schemes. Oh well.


* – some redundancy here, do you think?

Trust the machine

Reason four million, twenty four thousand, six hundred and forty nine not to trust the massive power grab by the state and agents of it: some of those agents aren’t really that nice.

A former Lancashire police officer who abused his police powers to uncover his wife’s affair has been sentenced to 150 hours’ community service.

Andrew Liptrot, 47, seized CCTV from two pubs where he suspected his wife had met another man, on the pretext he was investigating a crime.

He was cleared of assault but admitted seven counts of misconduct in a public office in January.

We’ve always instilled the police with a certain amount of power, but there aren’t as many checks on them these days; fifteen years ago a police officer would have to get a dozen of his friends involved to get that sort of surveillance on his wife and her lover. Now, he walks into a bar, flashes his warrant card and gets a recording of the activities of dozens of people.

We’ve always allowed a good few people to have access to some pretty detailed information on all of us. But now we’ve apparently decided that hundreds of thousands of people deserve that access. Well, I say we’ve decided; I mean that others decided for us without so much as a polite request to do so.

Hundreds of thousands of people, perhaps even millions, now have handy access to our communications data, or movements, our spending habits, our health records. How many of them are worthy of that trust, d’ye think?

I’ll leave you with that pleasant thought. And why you’re musing, I’ll be off enjoying a fun day long training session on PAYE. Because what I really need is to spend more time musing on how much money the state steals from us…

No, that law is just for
  • you
  • Amount of time that the state allows you to comply with rules when the rules change? As short a time as they can get away with.

    Amount of time that the state takes for itself when the rules change? No end of time. One example is the way that government aims to break the law ‘only’ 10% of the time. How far would I get if I aimed to comply with only 10% of the law on murder?

    Another wonderful example is in the police forces from across the UK continuing to fail to comply with the law on data retention. When being told that the data of innocent people couldn’t be held without reason, they said “nah, we’ll keep doing that until the government can find a way to make it legal for us to do so”.

    Again: if a private citizen used that as a defence, they would be rightly laughed out of court. When an agency of the state does it, it doesn’t even surprise us any more.

    Isn’t that all quite depressing?

    Me do like

    So far, the government have probably thought that they’ve been pretty smart about the implementation of ID cards. Like any good bully, they’ve picked their targets carefully.

    They went after those who didn’t know any better, when they went after children.

    They went after those who couldn’t fight back, when they went after foreign workers.

    They went after those who afford to fight back, when they went after low paid security staff.

    Unfortunately, in and among some of those low paid security staff at UKish airports, they neglected to consider the very organised and rather well paid pilots. Who are more than capable of fighting back, and have been talking like they might just do that.

    Airline pilots have warned the government that they will not take part in their security theatre trial of ID cards at Manchester and City of London airports.

    The Home Office wants to trial the cards for airside workers at the two airports. Several UK airlines have already pointed out the dumbness of the dumb idea.

    The British Airline Pilots’ Association (BALPA) has now written to management at both airports to inform them that pilots would not carry the cards.

    Balpa said the cards would add nothing to security and that promises from the Home Office that carrying the cards would be voluntary had already been broken.

    I do hope that they stick to their guns. Actually, I do hope that they find some ID cards, sharpen the edges and then shove them – sideways – up the arse of the first person to suggest that they carry them. But that may just be wishful thinking.

    Well that’s just bloody typical

    Friday: the House of Lords sends out a clear message that the current government’s over reliance on massive databases and intrusions into citizen’s privacy is foolhardy and wrong.

    Sunday: the current government decides that it really should create a massive and intrusive database of everyone’s journeys.

    Note to the current government: you’re a bunch of feckless twunts and I despise you and everything you stand for.

    Note to the House of Lords: I don’t know why it is that you, an unelected and out of touch bunch of old people, are the only ones actually standing up for the traditional freedoms of the citizens of the United Kingdom, but I’d very much like you to keep on doing it…

    Reasons to fear the database state, number eight thousand

    In the UK, the state has historically been seen as something that had its uses, but didn’t need to be involved in everything. A persons identity was their own, with the state getting involved only to make a few notes of a few things as and when necessary.

    And this would be a good thing, yes?

    However, recently that’s been changing. The government is going about its business, and its business is rehashing the role of the state – it will soon be the sole guardian of your identity. Which isn’t, to my mind, a good thing.

    That is the French way; l’Etat runs the entire show, and the individual is entirely at the mercy of it.

    And how’s that working for them?

    A report (pdf) issued last week by CNIL, the French Data Protection Agency, reveals that as many as a million people have lost jobs – or didn’t get them in the first place – because of inaccuracies in the police STIC database (Systeme de Traitement des Infractions constatés, or “criminal record check system”).

    Overall, CNIL identified an error rate of 83 per cent on STIC records

    83 per cent error rate!?!?!

    Fucking hell. That’s even less accurate than a News of the World article…

    But fear not, the UK will be much better about the quality of its data, won’t it?

    Probably not, actually; consider this: an organisation takes its lead from the people at the top. And at the top of Her Majesty’s Government is a paranoid, delusional muppet. And at the top of the Home Office is a delusional half-wit.

    God help us…

    No, the computer is not a personality…

    Things that can make, or have in the past have made, good parents: humans, and – depending up on your level in belief in agent legend – she wolves.

    Things that do not made, nor have they ever made, good parents: machines, robots and computers.

    Y’see, despite the beliefs of yer man Susan/Sutler, computers aren’t people. And they’re certainly not parents.

    v-for-vendetta

    And a database is only a tool; certainly not a damn parent.

    This database is good mother, not big brother
    Our details are all over the web. And a central bank of information will help vulnerable children, not harm secure ones

    Alice Miles then goes on to list a few things which ContactPoint most emphatically will not help with.

    As I’ve said before, child protection will still depend on one person making a call; using a computer system to make three people make a third of a call each isn’t going to do anything other than muddy the waters even more.

    But I think you could take it as read that I wasn’t going to agree with her on this one. However, she does make a couple of interesting points, although maybe not in the way that she intended.

    How much detail do you think someone gaining access to your online supermarket account could glean about you or your family? The rough age of your children, their favourite food, your address, when you tend to be in or out… People seem blithely to assume that the private sector is safe, yet only yesterday, about 4.5 million people who were registered with the online jobseekers’ site Monster had their personal details stolen by hackers.

    Yes, and it was noticed within a day. When HMRC lost details belonging to literally half the country, none of us found out for months.

    Plus, the more that people find out about the insanity than handing over information on all your habits for about 6p per shop, the better I’ll feel. I’m a fairly paranoid man, but it’s not paranoia to be concerned about Tesco or Sainsburys being able to have a picture of everything you do. And what do they give you in return for this mine of information? About 6p per till receipt. Clearly people don’t value their privacy that much…

    Another point:

    The public sector already holds vast amounts of data, admittedly not always securely. Think how much information a mother claiming tax credits has to give about the hours she works and even her childcare arrangements.

    Yes, and then that’s left on a train, or a USB stick that turns up on eBay…

    So, Ms Miles looks at exactly the same evidence as the rest of us, and draws exactly the opposite conclusion.

    Which side of the argument do you think you’d come down on?

    I feel completely reassured…

    What do you think of when you hear the words ‘anti-terrorist operation’ and ‘stop and search’?

    Are you reassured? Do you think that it’s all targeted and intelligence driven, out to halt specific threats in the course of securing democracy?

    Or do you think that it’s all a bunch of horseshit, and not a million miles away from Belfast back in the good old days of turnstiles and iron bars at every access point?

    If you subscribe to the first point of view, I wish you all the best. If it’s the latter, then you could do worse than read el Reg‘s take on it.

    Feeling unsafe in your life? Looking for reassurance? The Metropolitan Police Service can help you with a touchy-feely new innovation. It’s called stop and search.

    A new document hints at a shift of emphasis in the Met’s strategic vision for counter terrorism stop and search powers. It’s going to be a public relations tool.

    How’s this for a stat: of over thirty thousand supposedly terror related searches between 2003 abd 2007, less than eighty resulted in anyone being charged with a terrorist related offence. Given recent happenings in the courts, that’s probably less than forty being convicted of anything, and less than fifteen being convicted of any terror related charge. Oh, and less than a single device being found or plot being foiled.

    So, my question is this: is it worth creating records on thirty thousand innocent people to charge 79 with offences that they’re highly unlikely to be guilty of?

    Is it worth making thousands of people victims of state aggression in the name of reassuring the rest of us? Because here’s a little factoid that I think is interesting: if you grant that Red Ken was able to count, and that there are seven million Londoners, then 0.429% of Londoners were stopped and searched, as opposed to 0.248% of those stopped being eventually charged with a terror related offence.

    Personally, I’m not exactly thrilled with those odds…