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Dido Elizabeth Belle – a pioneer of Britain


dido_elizabeth_belle_aloneDido Elizabeth Belle (1761–1804) was born into slavery as the natural daughter of Maria Belle, she married John Davinier from 1793–1804; until her death.

Dido Elizabeth Belle was an enslaved African woman in the West Indies, and Sir John Lindsay, a British career naval officer who was stationed there. He was later knighted and promoted to admiral.[2] Lindsay took Belle with him when he returned to England in 1765, entrusting her raising to his uncle William Murray, 1st Earl of Mansfield, and his wife Elizabeth Murray, Countess of Mansfield. The Murrays educated Belle, bringing her up as a free gentlewoman at their Kenwood House, together with their niece, Lady Elizabeth Murray, whose mother had died. Belle lived there for 30 years. In his will of 1793, Lord Mansfield confirmed her freedom and provided an outright sum and an annuity to her, making her an heiress.

In these years, her great-uncle, in his capacity as Lord Chief Justice, ruled in two significant slavery cases, finding in 1772 that slavery had no precedent in common law in England, and had never been authorized under positive law. This was taken as the formal end of slavery in Britain. In the Zong massacre, a case related to the slave trade, he narrowly ruled that the owners of the ship were not due insurance payments for the loss of slaves they had thrown overboard during a voyage, as their killing appeared to be related to errors by the officers.

What follows is the closing title them to “Belle” by Rachel Portman

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Robert’s Rules of Order


The contents of the current (11th) edition of Robert’s Rules of Order Newly Revised (RONR), published in 2011, include details on the types of groups that use the book, the ways that decisions could be made, and the various situations in which decisions are made.

The Basics

The introduction in the book provides a history of parliamentary procedure and includes the background and history of Robert’s Rules of Order. Rules in the book are based on the rights of the majority, of the minority (especially a strong minority that is greater than one third), of individual members, of absentees, and of all these together.[31] Some fundamental principles upon which the book is based include: one question at a time; one person, one vote; and a vote being limited to members present.[32]

A group that uses the book is called a deliberative assembly. The types of deliberative assemblies are a mass meeting, a local assembly of an organized society (local club or local branch), a convention, a legislative body, and a board.[33] An organization may have rules which could include a corporate charter, a constitution or bylaws, rules of order (special rules of order and parliamentary authority), standing rules, and customs. To conduct business, groups have meetings or sessions that may be separated by more than or be within a quarterly time interval. The types of meetings are a regular meeting, a special meeting, an adjourned meeting, an annual meeting, an executive session, a public session, and electronic meetings.

A member of a deliberative assembly has the right to attend meetings, make motions, speak in debate, and vote.[34] The process of making a decision is done through a motion, which is a proposal to do something. The formal steps in handling a motion are the making of a motion, having a second, stating the motion, having debate on the motion, putting the motion to a vote, and announcing the results of the vote. Action could be taken informally without going through these steps by using unanimous consent.[35] When making a choice, the basic principle of decision is majority vote. In situations when more than majority vote is required, the requirement could include a two-thirds vote, previous notice, or a vote of a majority of the entire membership.

Motions

The book provides details about main motions including the motion to ratify. In addition, the book lists other motions and provides details (including explanations, forms, and examples) on these motions which include:
◾Subsidiary Motions – Postpone Indefinitely, Amend, Commit or Refer, Postpone to a Certain Time, Limit or Extend Limits of Debate, Previous Question, and Lay on the Table
◾Privileged Motions – Call for the Orders of the Day, Raise a Question of Privilege, Recess, Adjourn, and Fix the Time to Which to Adjourn
◾Incidental Motions – Point of Order, Appeal, Suspend the Rules, Objection to the Consideration of a Question, Division of a Question, Consideration by Paragraph or Seriatim, Motions Relating to Methods of Voting and the Polls, Motions Relating to Nominations, Request to Be Excused from a Duty, and Requests and Inquiries (Parliamentary Inquiry, Request for Information, Request for Permission (or Leave) to Withdraw or Modify a Motion, Request to Read Papers, and Request for Any Other Privilege)
◾Motions That Bring A Question Again Before An Assembly – Take from the Table, Rescind/Amend Something Previously Adopted, Discharge a Committee, and Reconsider

Details for each motion include its purpose, when it could be made, if it is debatable, if it is amendable, the vote required for adoption, and if it could be reconsidered. The “order of precedence”, or rank, of the motions is also described in detail.

Various topics

The second half of the book covers various topics in detail. Brief summaries of these topics are as follows:

Depending on the situation, motions could be renewed, or made again. On the other hand, members should not use legitimate motions for dilatory and improper purposes to waste time.

A quorum, or minimum number of members, is required to be present at a meeting in order to validly conduct business. The business that is to come up in a meeting could be listed in an order of business or an agenda.

Each member could get a chance to speak through assignment of the floor and debate. Debate may be limited in the number of speeches and time and should be respectful to others at all times. Voting takes place to decide the course of action and it could be done in a multitude of ways, such as voice vote, standing vote, and ballot vote.

Officers in an organization could be elected through the process of nominations and elections. Each organization decides for itself which officers to have, but the minimum officers in a deliberative assembly are a presiding officer (usually “president” or “chairman”) and a secretary. The secretary keeps the minutes, or the official records of the proceedings, for each meeting. As part of their duties, the officers may have reports to give, such as a financial report given by the treasurer. In addition, an organization may have a board to handle business on behalf of the organization. Officers and boards only have such authority and powers that are given to them in the governing documents of the organization. There may also be committees that are formed to assist the organization. The boards and committees may have reports to give as well.

People may gather in mass meetings for a specific purpose or cause. One such purpose of the mass meetings could be for the intent of organizing a permanent society.

Each organization has its basic rules contained in its bylaws. The bylaws could describe the name of the organization and its purpose, the requirements to be a member or an officer, how meetings are scheduled, if there are boards or committees (or both), its parliamentary authority, and how to amend the bylaws.

Representatives from constituent groups may gather as delegates in conventions to conduct business on behalf of the organization. Conventions may consist of several meetings and may last for several days or more on an annual basis or other such infrequent interval.

If members do not act according to the organization’s rules, they could be subject to disciplinary procedures. Such action could range from censure to the extreme of expulsion from the organization. Officers could be disciplined by removal from office.

Charts, tables, and lists

The tinted pages (pages marked by a gray band along the outer edge) in the rear of the book contain the following charts, tables, and lists: (1) Chart for Determining When Each Subsidiary or Privileged Motion Is In Order, (2) Table of Rules Relating to Motions, (3) Sample Forms Used in Making Motions, (4) and (5) Motions and Parliamentary Steps, (6) Motions Which Require a Two-Thirds Vote, (7) Motions Whose Reconsideration Is Prohibited Or Limited, and (8) Table of Rules for Counting Election Ballots.[36]

Liberty Protect Refugee Children campaign


c__data_users_defapps_appdata_internetexplorer_temp_saved-images_libertyProtect Refugee Children

Time for action – the UK Government must deliver on its refugee children commitment now
Ask your local Councillor to pressure Government into action today.

In May 2016 the Government made a commitment to work with local councils to bring unaccompanied refugee children in Europe to safety in the UK, under an agreement called the “Dubs scheme”.

Three months on and they have completely failed to deliver on this promise.

Liberty and Help Refugees are campaigning to hold the Government to account and make this pledge a reality, and we need your support.

Take Action : Ask your councillor to sign our Statement of Support

Demonstrating local support for the Dubs scheme sends a strong message to central Government that the time to act is now – and that councils are keen to play their part.

Write to your local councillors using our form below. Ask them to sign up to our statement pressuring central Government into honouring their commitment.

Statement of Support:

“We welcome the Government’s commitment to create a resettlement scheme to bring unaccompanied refugee children in Europe to safety in the UK. We recognise and support the vital role that local councils can and should play in caring for children seeking sanctuary.

We urge central government to provide funding to build the essential regional infrastructure necessary to secure the placement and support of children across the country and help us build them a brighter, safer future.”

If you are a councillor and would like to support the statement, please email RefugeePledge@liberty-human-rights.org.uk
Write to your local councillor

..
Supporting Councillors

A full list of councillors who have pledged their support to the statement can be viewed here.

Take Action: Write to your local newspaper

Writing to your local newspaper is a great way of bringing the desperate plight of unaccompanied asylum-seeking children to the attention of your community, council and local MP.

It will be instrumental in persuading local councillors to sign up to Liberty and Help Refugees’ Protect Refugee Children campaign.

To help you get your message across, here are some tips for writing to your local paper.

Background

Child refugees endure violence and separation from family members; lose access to education, healthcare, the support of their communities and often face bleak and uncertain futures.

As a recent harrowing report from UNICEF revealed, trauma does not end at Europe’s shores.  Children seeking sanctuary across the continent face routine exploitation and abuse. Many have already disappeared into the hands of traffickers.

The UK has a long tradition of providing refuge to those escaping persecution and indiscriminate violence.

In May 2016, the Government committed to create a scheme proposed by Lord Dubs – himself a child of the Kindertransport – to bring refugee children stranded in Europe to safety in the UK.

The time for action is now.  Local and central government must work together to ensure the Dubs scheme fulfils its potential as a lifeline for some of Europe’s most vulnerable children.

Currently huge question marks remain around funding for the regional infrastructure that will ensure consistent and high quality services across the country.

The whole process of resettlement – from assessment overseas, through placement with individual councils, to accessing essential services – must be rooted in the best interests of the child and adequately resourced.

Together we can hold the Government to account. Offering sanctuary to those fleeing war and terror is one of the most pressing human rights issues in the UK today.

By demonstrating local support for the Dubs scheme we send a strong message that urgent action is needed, and that local councils are keen to play their part.

Updates

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Ealing, Brighton and Oxford Councils latest to back Liberty and Help Refugees’ pledge to support unaccompanied refugee children
27 October 2016

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Belfast City Council backs Liberty and Help Refugees campaign to Protect Refugee Children – and urges Northern Ireland Executive to play its part
05 September 2016

Lambeth Council backs Liberty and Help Refugees pledge to protect refugee children – and urges central Government to play its part
17 August 2016

 

An offer of sanctuary for Europe’s refugee children
06 May 2016

 

MPs must act to provide sanctuary to desperate refugee children
28 April 2016

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Take action on the Immigration Bill now: 4 crucial asks for your MP
19 April 2016

Resources

Protect Refugee Children.pdf (269.46 KB)
Liberty’s Report Stage briefing on the Children and Social Work Bill: safeguarding unaccompanied refugee children (Oct 2016).pdf (282.77 KB)
Liberty’s briefing on the Children and Social Work Bill amendment 135A (July 2016).pdf (406.53 KB)
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Manchester Tram Hate Crime Incident


 

Youths use racist abuse towards a passenger who asks them to stop swearing during a busy morning Manchester tram journey. 

This is the moment when three youths hurled racist abuse towards a passenger who asked that they refrain from swearing on a tram travelling between Shudehill and Market Street in Central Manchester at 07.40am this morning. It was captured on film and immediately uploaded to social media sites (including twitter) in order for people to witness the behaviour of these individuals.

In the video the youths target a particular man who asked them to refrain from using the offensive language during the ride and as can be seen in the video their abusive behaviour was upsetting passengers. Many of the passengers who later took to social media said that the incident was distressing and the youths aggressive behaviour frightening to everyone on the tram ride. The youths are seen taunting passenger and in particular the passenger of unknown descent to get off the train and the youths threatened to ‘batter’ passengers who left the train.  The passenger who challenged them is also heard on the video asking there age “how old are you 18 or 19? I have been here [in the UK] longer than you. You are extremely  ignorant and unintelligent”.

Greater Manchester Police have now confirmed that all three of the youths in the video have been arrested over their racist comments and will charged with hate crime.

Peer Calls NPCC Proposals for More Armed Security ‘Provocative and ‘Dangerous”


NPCC low resPlans to deploy over 5,000 armed soldiers following a UK terror attack has caused a prominent peer to question the move as a ‘provocative’ act which could endanger the public. Baroness Jenny Jones, who sits on London’s Police and Crime Committee, called the revelations “absolutely shocking”. “Putting troops on the streets would be very controversial”,adding“I think it would be provocative and cause more problems than it would solve.” baroness-jones

 The Peer conceded that although plans certainly had to be made for the event of a terror attack, she was curious about whether troops were being trained to deal with members of the public, she said, adding that “it would not be appropriate to use them” if they had not.

Minutes of a meeting of the National Police Chiefs Council (NPCC) were leaked and published as the Prime Minister, David Cameron has flown to South-East Asia for discussions with leaders of the area over the growing threat of ISIS. The minutes of the meeting called for “large scale military support” for the police and augmenting armed police officers engaged in protection and security duties.

The plans codenamed Operation Temperer, following the meeting of the NPCC in the reveal 22nd April were accidentally uploaded to the Mail on Sunday website. They were uploaded on Thursday, then removed and revised early on Friday morning when it was found that details from from the secret closed meeting had also been included a spokesperson for the NPCC confirmed. ARMED-POLICE

Baroness Jones said that If the situation got to a point where the military where military intervention was necessary, then clearly the Government would have to have lost control, adding that “it would make them look weak and panicky” calling the proposals quite extraordinary,” she said. “I think the principle of this should be debated in Parliament.”

Simon Chesterman, Detective Chief Constable who led the Committee called for a “national lead” for armed policing, said that “discussions were on-going with Government” although the called for extra armed soldiers and police have not have never been debated in Parliament.

Last month more than 1,000 police and soldiers, including SAS troops, staged a mass exercise codenamed Strong Tower to test their response to a gun-attack on London.

Ireland to Accept Same Sex Marriage


150521202001-orig-ireland-same-sex-marriage-referendum-00000302-large-169 During a historic vote taking place it seems that the Republic of Ireland will now legalise Same Sex Marriage, with leaders from both sides of the campaign stating that early polls indicate a swing to the Yes campaign to enshrine same sex marriages into it’s constitution, in the world’s first national vote on the issue,

Politicians, activists and the Irish voters are now questioning not if it the vote will be for acceptance but by how large the vote actually was for a Yes to Equality vote..

Senior figures from the “no” campaign, who sought to prevent Ireland’s constitution from being amended to permit same-sex marriages, say the only question is how large the “yes” side’s margin of victory will be from Friday’s vote.safe_image.php

“We’re the first country in the world to enshrine marriage equality in our constitution and do so by popular mandate. That makes us a beacon, a light to the rest of the world of liberty and equality. So it’s a very proud day to be Irish,” a  Cabinet minister who himself came out as gay man when The Irish Government led efforts to amend Ireland’s conservative Catholic constitution.

“There is going to be a very substantial majority for a yes vote. I’m not at all surprised by that to be honest with you,” Ronan Mullen, and Irish Senator, who rejected a change to same sex marriage entering the constitution..

.Analysts are even seeing that  “yes” majorities of voting are being reported in conservative rural districts,  suggesting  only question was how large the “yes” majority will be when the voting ends once the 4.6 million votes are counted in Ireland, which of course in the republic is predominantly Catholic.

According to sources at a Dublin ballot centre, said the Irish capital looks to have voted around 70 percent in favour of gay marriage, while most districts outside the capital also were reporting strong “yes” leads without any district reporting a “no” majority. Official results come later Saturdayireland-same-sex-marriage-referendum The “YES” campaigning has been mobilising it’s support through a creative, compelling campaign on social media sites to get young voters, tens of thousands of whom voted for the first time Friday. They also said a “no” victory was always unlikely given that all political parties and politicians are in favour of equality on same sex marriage  just five years after it’s approved civil partnerships for gay couples.

Fianna Fail leader Michael Martin, whose party though traditionally Catholic in it’s membership and views campaigned for legalising gay marriage, said it “looks like an emphatic win for the yes side.” Voters in his native Cork were being recorded by observers as more than 60 percent yes.

Churchill and the Saudis


Churchill After the sycophantic tributes paid by various world leaders to the passing of King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia , many people are angered (including this blog writer) that people such as David Cameron, the Queen and even President Obama have felt the need to offer “touchy feeling diplomacy” following the Monarch’s death.

The lowering of flags in the UK on Government Buildings; Westminster Abbey, and Buckingham Palace have not only angered people who are genuinely appalled at Saudi Arabia’s record on human rights abuse for a monarch who’s countries laws meet out sadistic and barbaric sentencing but point to double standards when on one hand our governments over the years have deplored it’s laws and on the other our praising a man in passing because we wish to maintain our relationship with an oil rich country.

When actually asked as to confirm who is responsible in the government for the decision to lower the flags as to honour the late Saudi King (a gesture normally only befitting the passing of British royalty or heads of government for the Commonwealth countries and only world leaders at the discretion of the UK Government) Whitehall appears to be confused with both the FCO and the Department for Media and Culture both denying their respective authority and concurring each other for permitting the honour.

Labour leader Ann Clywd was the latest MPs to voice her anger at the tributes paid to the late King Abdullah, stating that the country had one of the worst human rights records in the world and said “People in countries such as ours should use every opportunity to protest because the public are appalled by such barbarity” adding “Lots of people die but I dont think flying the flags at half mast for a country which has such a human rights record is acceptable.” Her comments following similar outrage from others,  such as Louise Mensch the former Corby Conservative MP,  who on Friday erupted on Twitter condemning the  ‘supine’ adoration of male leaders on Saudi Arabia’s treatment of women. Many wondered, as I did, what Tony Blair actually was referring to when he called the later King a ‘moderniser’ in light of the little he did in terms of the rights of women in Saudi Arabia.

Even the Council for Advancement for Arab and British Understanding are also baffled by the ‘dishonesty’ of the tributes paid; Chris Doyle it’s director saying that although Britain and Saudi Arabia need to maintain relations on a global stage that the tribute “..wont be taken seriously if we go over the top in paying respects” and highlighting the fact that British Muslims are being asked to accept British Values by our Government on the one hand and then watching our establishment blindly ignore and accept human rights abusewhere the Saudi’s flogs their own citizens – thus our diplomacy runs incompatible UK values Mr Doyle pointing to the sentence met of 1000 lashes said “what does that mean when there’s a completely non-critical reaction to the events in Saudi Arabia like the flogging of a blogger? This creates a sense of double standards”

Maybe the politicians in our country could learn from the Briton that was Winston Churchill, the audacious and insubmissive  politician whose death the UK will soon be celebrating in terms of his passing 50 years ago. When in 1945 he met the then founder of Saudi Arabia, King Ibn Said (the father of King  Abdullah) and was warned by both his own Government officials and interpreters and from Saudi Officials that the smoking and drinking alcohol in the presence of the Saudi King would not be tolerated he replied to his interpreter, in answer to the Saudi officials “If it was the religion of his Majesty to deprive himself of smoking and drinking alcohol, I must point out that my rule of life, prescribed as an absolute sacred rite, smoking cigars and also the drinking of alcohol before; after and even during meals, and in the intervals between them.”

It is thus a tribute to a man who never fell short of actually saying what was on his mind and rarely conceded to the force of others.  In 2002 Sir Winston Churchill was named as the greatest Briton that ever lived in a  vote of 100 Great Britons including other prominent luminaries such as Darwin, Shakespeare and Elizabeth I. The case for him is a powerful one, of course. He was first a government minister in 1908, and occupied most of the top jobs in politics during half a century. He finally retired in 1955, having served as prime minister for a total of nine years.

His greatest triumph of course was his leadership and rallying of the British people in World War Two that marked him out and his brave and tireless in his resolve to take on Nazi Germany, even when at times it seemed that Britain may have fallen to the Nazis in a war torn Europe. He remained constantly resilient and this probably inspired the US to enter the war after Britain France and it’s other allies were teetering on defeat.

Even as a Sandhurst  cadet, Churchill was defiant, his first speech and act of defiance was probably in 1894 when he was among a group of upper-class ‘hooligans’ who tore down a screen that was erected by the League for Social Purity, at the Empire in Leicester Square which was placed there to keep the West End’s prostitutes from their clients, many of whom were the gentry of the City by the London County Council. The vandals spokesperson  shouted “Ladies of the Empire, I stand for liberty” this was none other than a young Winston Churchill and in a letter to The Times and the Bishop of London bemoaned the conduct of the young Churchill that he should ever see any of the Dukes of Marlborough ‘hailed by a flourish of Strumpets’

The sad fact is that politicians that speak out and are of Churchill’s nature would never get elected, even Boris Jonson, almost a devotee of Churchill’s manner and British values seems implausible in our corporate world of diplomatic,  insincere and disingenuous politics

Liberty calls for better managed return orders


Today a cross-party amendment opposing the Government’s proposed temporary exclusion orders (TEO) has been tabled. TEOs would effectively exile British citizens by revoking their passports when outside of the UK  – and risk exposing them to torture or delivering them into the hands of terror factions.
The amendment, drafted by Liberty, would replace the TEO with a Notification & Managed Return Order.  The NMRO would allow the Home Secretary to require airlines and other carriers to notify her of the return plans of those she suspected of terrorism abroad.  The authorities could then use their existing powers against a suspect when they return to the UK.  But, crucially, the Home Secretary would not have the power to revoke passports while they were outside of the country.

Barrister’s take action over Legal Aid cuts


image

Criminal courts across England and Wales will be severely disrupted on Monday morning when barristers and solicitors stage an unprecedented mass walkout in protest at government plans to slash legal aid fees by up to 30%.

It is the first time barristers have withdrawn their labour, according to the Criminal Bar Association, and the first time the two wings of the legal profession have taken co-ordinated, national action.

Thousands of barristers and solicitors working on publicly funded cases are refusing to enter court for a half-day demonstration aimed at forcing the justice secretary, Chris Grayling, into a last-minute rethink of proposals designed to save £220m a year.

Lawyers have been careful to avoid describing the action as a strike because that would raise questions about contractual obligations to the Legal Aid Agency. But criminal barristers say the protest reflects mounting resentment over successive reductions in legal aid fees, which have already resulted in cuts of 40% for criminal cases since 1997.

Bradley Manning labelled ‘reckless’ by Military Judge


Private-Bradley-ManningThe military judge who’ll be determining the sentence of Private Bradley Manning on Monday said  will determine how long  said his acts  were “wanton and reckless.” Bradley Manning will be sentenced over what has been called the biggest breach of classified data in the US history on Monday

Judge Colonel Denise Lind last month found Manning, 25, guilty of 20 criminal counts which include  include charges of  espionage and theft of military property when he handed over 700,000 secret US documents to WikiLeaks.  He was caught when he confided to Adrian Lamo a computer hacker whom he’d built a online relationship with about about his activities. He pleaded guilty in February 2013 to 10 of the 22 charges, and the trial on the remaining charges began on 3 June 2013.

Manning is expected to face up to 90 years in prison for his role in a case that put the whistle-blowing and anti-secrecy website WikiLeaks and in particular its founder,  Julian Assange, into the world spotlight.

“Manning’s conduct was of a heedless nature that made it actually and imminently dangerous to others. His conduct was both wanton and reckless,” Lind said in a series of written findings issued after prosecutors finished their sentencing arguments yesterday.

Civil Right’s groups in the US and worldwide will watch with great interest the sentencing of Bradley Manning with many groups actually having called for him to be merited for his work in exposing US Government secrecy.

Manning was working as a low-level intelligence analyst at a military base in Baghdad in 2010 when he handed  diplomatic cables and other documents to WikiLeaks. At the time he’d only hoped his actions would create broad debate about US foreign activity.

Military prosecutors have argued that his actions have aided al-Qaida and harmed the United States,  though proof of this would be hard to get as this would inevitably be classified information.

Manning’s lawyers this week presented their case for giving the defendant a mild sentence. Witnesses including military mental health specialists and members of Manning’s family testified that the soldier, who is gay, showed signs that he was unsuitable for overseas deployment, including violent outbursts.

Manning, slightly built and dressed in his uniform and glasses, his hair cropped close, on Wednesday addressed the court for the first time since February, saying that he was “sorry” and understood that he “must pay a price” for his actions.

Before the prosecutors rested their case Friday, they presented a written statement from army criminal investigation command special agent David Shaver, who said chat logs and e-mail he found on Manning’s computer in Iraq indicated he was responsible for leaking the classified documents.

There is a website that has been set up to support Bradley Manning it’s website address http://www.bradleymanning.org/

manning-wikileaks

Peace on the up and up


697957610-2Research into violent crime has seen a ‘substantial and dramatic’ fall according to research into the levels of crime conducted by the Institute for Economics and Peace.

Britain’s murder rate fell from 1,255 to 993 per 100,000 people according to a nationwide index on the level of crime and in particular the low existence of it.

Areas that have been recognized highly as the areas where violent crime has least are to be found in Norfolk; Hertfordshire and  South Cambridgeshire – with Broadland in Norfolk topping the research poll on crime reduction nationwide.

The Institute research found that the fall over the last decade of homicide in the UK now at its lowest level since 1978; roughly equivalent to that of the Western European average. Unfortunately it is significantly higher in terms of violent crime than the EU average.

It is believed changes in Police practice and technological advances such as CCTV; an aging population, the fall in alcohol consumption,  and the introduction of a minimum wage could be some of the contributing factors for the downward trend in crime – in particular homicide.

Although alcohol related crimes are believed to have fallen slightly drug offences have increased over the last ten years.Officers said that the police’s efforts in tackling gun and knife attacks, domestic assault and incidents relating to alcohol misuse has started to show its overall impact on levels of violent crime.

Dark Days Ahead – Justice and Security Bill loses safeguards


Photograph of the debating chamber of the Hous...

Last night was a dark moment for British justice as odious Government plans for Secret Courts moved to the brink of becoming law. The House of Lords voted against introducing safeguards to the Justice and Security Bill ensuring that so-called Closed Material Procedures (CMPs) were used only as a last resort. The margin was tight, but the legislation was passed in its entirety and now heads for Royal Assent and the statute book in all of its foul, shadowy glory. Not only are Secret Courts infesting our civil law system – minor restrictions making them slightly less deplorable have also been dismissed.
Peers voted by 174 to 158 against a Labour amendment which would allow CMPs only where a judge decided a fair verdict was impossible by other means. The proposed safeguard won cross-party support, with 26 Liberal Democrats rebelling alongside 16 crossbenchers, six non-affiliated peers, one Conservative and 109 Labour counterparts to back the amendment. Regrettably it wasn’t to be, and we now move towards a world where Ministers will be able to rely upon secret evidence – never disclosed to the claimant, let alone public or press – during cosy private chats with judges behind closed doors.

And yet the principled opposition to Secret Courts was clear throughout the Upper House. Labour opposition spokesperson for justice Lord Beecham, moving the amendment, urged peers to help “minimise the damage threatened to the most valued elements of our jurisprudence and judicial system”.

Liberal Democrat peer and former Director of Public Prosecutions Lord Macdonald of River Glaven QC observed: “Nothing would be more corrosive of justice and public confidence in justice than the routine intrusion into our system of closed procedures, of secret courts, of excluded defendants, of confidential meetings between government lawyers and the judge.”

“I have never been convinced of the Government’s position that expelling one party to the proceedings and running the risk of evidence not being challenged is better justice than excluding some evidence, not a party, from the hearing,” said Conservative peer Baroness Berridge, a member of the Joint Committee on Human Rights. “It is better for the Government, but not for justice.”

And former Attorney-General and Labour peer Baroness Kennedy of the Shaws QC told the House of Lords: “Openness will sometimes be more important for the health of the nation because of the poison that is released by secrecy.”

“This legislation involves so radical a departure from the cardinal principle of open justice in civil proceedings, so sensitive an aspect of the court’s processes, that everything that can possibly help minimise the number of occasions when the power is used should be recognised and should appear in the legislation itself,” added non-affiliated peer and former Justice of the Supreme Court Lord Brown of Eaton-under-Heywood.

We also mustn’t forget the mountain of outside opposition which the Government ignored in forcing the Bill through. Lawyers, the international community, the Scottish Government and much of the national press rejected the legislation, along with politicians of all political stripes and hordes of Liberal Democrat supporters. Liberty members also fought the proposals determinedly and we salute their dedicated campaigning.

That the Government failed to make the case for Secret Courts is beyond debate. There wasn’t a shred of evidence suggesting they were necessary; not a single previous case where the existing system for handling sensitive material had fallen short. Clearly the argument was won, but not quite the politics. Needless to say we’ll continue working hard on this – starting as soon as the Bill is rolled out.

Source – Liberty

http://www.liberty-human-rights.org.uk/news/2013/dark-days-ahead-for-british-justice.php?dm_i=C3V,1DLZO,6YC936,4O9SJ,1

 

Angola 3 Documentary


Amnesty International UK will host a free screening of the acclaimed documentary about the notorious case of the “Angola 3” on Tuesday 10 July.

The 2010 film – In the Land of the Free, with narration by Samuel L Jackson – tells the story of how three men – Herman Wallace, Albert Woodfox and Robert King – were placed in solitary confinement at Louisiana State Penitentiary (known as Angola prison) in the USA in 1972.

Wallace and Woodfox – who were convicted of the murder of prison guard Brent Miller, a crime they have vigorously denied – have now spent the last 40 years in solitary. King, who was convicted of a different crime, spent 29 years in solitary confinement at Angola until his release in 2001. He will appear on a panel with the film’s director to discuss the case after the film screening.

Amnesty is currently calling on the Louisiana authorities to remove Wallace and Woodfox from solitary confinement, and is challenging the authorities’ contention that the pair remain a threat to prison employees and others (see http://amn.st/MQcp2U). Meanwhile, Woodfox’s lawyers are pursuing a claim of racial discrimination in jury selection at his 1998 retrial. This could see his conviction overturned (for the third time) and lead to his release.

Source: Amnesty  See also Angola 3 Film

75 years of the 999 Emergency Number


75 years of the 999 Emergency ServiceSeventy five years ago this weekend the first ever emergency number system anywhere in the world came into being in London with the introduction of the 999 call – marking a sea-change in the way the public communicated with the Metropolitan Police.

The MPS will be marking the anniversary by launching its first ever live twitter feed from one of its three central communications complexes (CCC) where ‘first contact’ operators answer tens of thousands of emergency calls every week.

For twelve hours on Friday 29 June, the public will be able to get an understanding into the huge variety of calls operators deal with on a daily basis – and gain insight into the pressures faced by staff as they have to make minute by minute decisions in the most difficult of circumstances.

In other events to mark the anniversary, a special commemorative section has been set up on the Met’s Facebook page featuring video interviews with 999 operators, a wide range of photos, illustrations and facts and figures relating to the history of the service.

The site and a special new display of historical artefacts dating back to 1829, documents and photos relating to emergency communication chart the significant developments in the service between 1937, when a handful of officers used counters on large table maps to denote police cars and messages were transmitted by morse code, and the present day’s sophisticated high-tech command centres.

Metcall, Metropolitan Police, London, England

Metcall, Metropolitan Police, London, England (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

In the early days of the 1930s just 24 staff in the old Victoria Embankment headquarters of Scotland Yard dealt with a couple of hundred calls a day. Contrast this with 2012, when we have three centralised communications complexes (CCC) in Bow, Hendon and Lambeth, employing over 2,000 workers dealing with an average of 14,000 calls a day.

The system has been upgraded and redesigned numerous times over the past seven decades, leading to the sophisticated multi-screen automated service in use today that prioritises 999 and non-emergency 101 calls using interactive satellite mapping as well as access to translators in 170 languages and special text phone numbers for the deaf.

Source: Metropolitan Police and the Met’s Facebook Page.

Chile passes anti-homophobia law


Chile’s Congress passed an anti-discrimination law Wednesday following the killing of a gay man whose attackers beat him and carved swastikas into his body.

The House of Deputies approved the law in a close 58-56 vote, seven years after it was first proposed. The Senate passed the law in November. Some passages remain to be finalized in a commission of senators and House lawmakers.

President Sebastian Pinera had urged lawmakers to accelerate approval of the law after 24-year-old Daniel Zamudio died March 27. Zamudio’s death came more than three weeks after he was attacked, and his case set off a national debate about hate crimes in Chile.

Source : Huffington Post

Super Injunctions are being challenged


The following has been posted on Twitter:

“Footballer ************* had an extramarital affair with Big Brother star Imogen Thomas which lasted for 7 months. #superinjunction
8 May via web Favorite Retweet Reply ”

Source :http://twitter.com/#!/InjunctionSuper

See also http://super-injunction.blogspot.com/2011/05/footballer-to-sue-twitter.html?spref=tw

WikiLeaks … your views?


What is your view on WikiLeak? Is it something to close down or a Democratic freedom?

House of Lords battle to stop future Gary McKinnons


  • Policing and Crime amendment would allow judges to prevent extradition for crimes committed in the UK
Today
the House of Lords will have the opportunity to prevent situations like
Gary McKinnon’s reoccurring. An amendment to the Policing and Crime
Bill would allow British judges to bar extradition if a significant
part of the crime happened in the UK.
  • The amendment would bring into force provisions that have been on the statute book for over three years.

    First
    introduced in the Police and Justice Bill 2006, the provisions passed
    the House of Lords but were resisted by the Government when the Bill
    returned to the Commons. By introducing a ‘killing clause’ – whereby
    the clauses would only come into force after a resolution by both
    Houses – the Government made it clear that they never intended to
    honour Parliament’s intentions in enacting this law.


    Isabella Sankey, Director of Policy for Liberty, said:

    “No
    one should be parcelled off to Europe, the US or anywhere else in the
    world without good reason. If a crime is thought to have been committed
    in the UK then a British court should be allowed to refuse extradition.


    This amendment would go some way to protecting people from
    being hauled off to a foreign land without the bare minimum of British
    justice being seen to be done.”


    Gary McKinnon, who has
    Asperger’s syndrome, has been charged with hacking into the US Pentagon
    and NASA systems between 1999 and 2002, an offence which was committed
    from his computer at home in London. Had the provisions from the Police
    and Justice Act 2006 been in force it is likely that extradition to the
    US would have been refused.


    Liberty argues that where conduct
    constituting a crime occurs in the UK then a British court should be
    allowed to refuse extradition if it is in the interests of justice to
    do so.


Are we respecting the right’s of people in the UK?


The Liberty Charge or Release campaign considers the new ruling to extend the period of detention as part of a anti-terror campaign and whether the rights of UK citizens are really still being observed in a the fight against terrorism

  

Sky News

Professor Green “Living in Poverty” BBC documentary

Scotland Yard

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