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April 08, 2009

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Richard J

Tragic incident...sympathies with the family at this difficult time...inappropriate to comment at this time...rest assured a full investigation will be carried out...[least said, soonest mended].

Fellow Traveller

Nonchalantly walking, in front of the police, hands in pockets, is obviously disrespectful and not taking them seriously so...

Richard J

Slightly less facetiously, from the top brass's perspective, this is every manager's nightmare - a PR disaster with no redeeming features where one has to choose whether to defend or shaft ones' underlings for the unexpectedly significant consequences of rules-breaking that's been tacitly condoned for years.

Fellow Traveller

Yes, of course, think of the managers' plight! Their sleepless nights, the stress, the worry, the interminable press conferences, the withering gaze of one's colleagues, eager for a mis-step they can leverage for their own advancement, the humiliating impotence induced. Some useless middle aged bloke had to walk carelessly into a Met copper's baton, the dozy twat, and cause this nightmare for a group of men otherwise exemplary.

We know who to feel sorry for now, all right.

Richard J

I was taking the piss...

Seriously though, the natural reaction of a bureaucrat will be to bury this as deep as they can.

Sympathy with Ian and his family himself, and extreme annoyance at the thuggery of the police on the ground should be taken as read.

jamie

"this is every manager's nightmare - a PR disaster with no redeeming features where one has to choose whether to defend or shaft ones' underlings.."

So they decide to do it and the Police Federation counterattack - two page feature in the Daily Mail prominently featuring Mrs Policeman and their lovely kids...honest copper thrown to the dogs by the forces of political correctness while hairy hordes run wild...who will defend us against slouching newsagents? And on. And on. And endlessly fucking on...

Richard J

two page feature in the Daily Mail

I normally find the Mail a godawful excuse for confirming the prejudices of its target audience, but along with the Graun[1], it seems to be running the most on this, somewhat surprisingly.

Chris Williams

Today's Mail coverage just slung in that he was an ancoholic, though - something that I don't think that the Graun's mentioned yet.

"Man killed owing to protestors obstructing police" = man not smeared

"Man dies after police assault" = man smeared.

As Paddick's pointed out, they don't appear to have moved on from Stockwell.

Phil

Bizarrely, the Mail is often very good on police abuses of power - the mentality seems to be "these people are public servants, they need to be made accountable to nice people like us".

ajay

I'm actually really puzzled about the legal basis of "kettling"; don't the police have to either a) arrest you or b) let you go? Wouldn't being kettled count as unlawful detention, just as it would if they pushed you into a room and wouldn't let you out?

Richard J

Wouldn't being kettled count as unlawful detention, just as it would if they pushed you into a room and wouldn't let you out?

The House of Lords say no, now that cases brought after 2001 have worked their way through the stages of our glorious legal system.

Richard J

http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/ld200809/ldjudgmt/jd090128/austin-1.htm

It's often surprising how readable court judgments can be, once you strip out the legal ornamentation..

jamie

The jail, as it were, has broken out...

Chris Williams

Mmm . . . and not just any jail, either, but a Panopticon. Do as you're told, cos you might be being FITted up. I suspect that kettling is actually designed primarily as an information-based strategy, to improve the hit-rate of real-time evidence-gathering. Film 'em kicking off just after lunch (at a place which, if not ideal, isconvenient for the cops), work out whom you've got good evidence on, then nick these as you filter them out. As an added bonus, you can wait til it gets dark and the Guardian journalists have all (all! way to go, lads - take a spare battery along next time, eh?) made their excuses and got out, then do a little bit of fun baton-work to keep the lads happy.

I think, though I'm not sure, that this technique was first used on a bunch of facists at Euston Station in the mid 1990s.

I also suspect that this change in tactics pre-dates the death of record-keeping in 1997, so one day I might be able to find out if I'm right.

PPS - in the early 1960s the cops attacking the St Pancras rent protestors made sure to smash all the cameras first. This isn't quite as new and horrible as we think, and as I think this incident shows, prevasive surveillance may yet be our friend in some respects.

jamie

"...not just any jail, either, but a Panopticon"

Ah, Foucault finally got one bang on, just as everyone started reading Zizek.

"...prevasive surveillance may yet be our friend in some respects."

Temporarily. I think one of the big legal/political pushes over the next decade will involve an attempt to establish demarcation between surveilled and surveilling classes, along the lines of the exemption of the children of the prominent from the contactpoint database. And don't you think this interest in MPs expenses shows a prurience that threatens the respect for politics necessary in a functioning democracy? etc, etc

Richard J

Didn't David Brin (not that I've read his book on the topic) raise this point about a decade ago?

Chris Williams

Poor old Jeremy - his big idea, and everyone thinks that it was actually some bald Frenchman who thought it up.

I think that Jamie might be right about surveillance - but Zygmunt Bauman disgrees with him, so there might be hope.

And when hope is gone, there's always Loompanics.

Alex

I doubt such a push can achieve very much success; after all, if you want say ANPR to exclude some registration numbers, it has to photograph and recognise them first, then look this up against a list of celebs to exclude. That in itself is highly leakable information. Further, if the system is any good at all it should log access attempts (because you want to know if someone's flashing the PM's car number 600 times a second at one of your cameras...), in which case you've just moved the sensitive data from the db into the system log, which is likely less secure than the db.

Similarly, you put data in a database so that some other process can get it back out and do things with it. So there's only so far you can go with keeping people off the register as a privilege, because otherwise things will stop working, and then they will either demand to be put back on it, or else they'll quietly sign up under another name, get a cheapo prepaid mobile or whatever.

The CIA had to go to great lengths even in paper systems to handle civil servants and military officers who were recruited or seconded to the agency; for example, they arranged for the USAF to set up a paper intelligence squadron they could be assigned to, in which their careers continued to advance in the normal way, pension entitlement was accrued, but it was still obvious to the clueful and very hard to administrate.

Similarly, they could at one point actually strip down aircraft they were lent by the Air Force, shuffle the parts, and put them back together as machines that the manufacturer had no record of ever making; but they couldn't keep the Air Force from working out what they were doing with the aeroplanes by auditing the fuel bills. (The USAF wanted to know because they had to justify the expenses to Congress and their own accounting system.)

Tom

Ah, but couldn't you just privatise the maintenance and operation of the aircraft, seal the contract under 'commercial confidentiality' then bung them large amounts of money when they come pleading that their sums didn't add up? Oh, hang on.

In many ways, competent institutions are the enemy, not a few demonstrators in a kettle.

Chris Williams

The utility of kettles from the other side of the sheild-wall is asserted here:

https://www.blogger.com/comment.g?blogID=2136725710155499318&postID=5778817763515688429

Check out the second to last paragraph from this comment:
08 April 2009 21:40

ajay

Alex: sounds like someone's been reading Christopher Robbins...

I think one of the big legal/political pushes over the next decade will involve an attempt to establish demarcation between surveilled and surveilling classes,

Sounds distinctly plausible.

Alex

Teh Grauniad has an excellent online version of its map of the incident, which makes clear that the whole thing happened outside the "kettle"; we may have been misframing it. Of course, this is the question about kettling; what happens if all the demonstrators aren't in the kettle?

Meanwhile, I respectfully submit that the Tamil demo yesterday was a small masterpiece.

Alex

Also, I can't find anyone claiming Tomlinson was a paedophile/rapist/terrorist/illegal immigrant/cocaine dealer. As you know, Bob, this is standard operating procedure, so WTF? Are they going soft or something? They said he was an alcoholic, but frankly that's pathetic as far as smears go.

Tom

"Also, I can't find anyone claiming Tomlinson was a paedophile/rapist/terrorist/illegal immigrant/cocaine dealer."

Drunkard, nine children, football fan. Obviously part of the target profile for batons, there.

Tom

It also occurs that wearing a Millwall top itself is a provocation to a London cop - the 'wall fans have a 'difficult' history with the Met, including the famous song praising Harry Roberts.

http://www.fanchants.com/football-songs/millwall-chants/harry-roberts-2/

Alex

But you see what I mean? "Man likes football, sex, drinks beer" - not much of a headline is it?

redpesto

Bizarrely, the Mail is often very good on police abuses of power - the mentality seems to be "these people are public servants, they need to be made accountable to nice people like us".

...which explains why they took the side of the Lawrence family after their son's death (that, and the fact that even the Mail wasn't going to side with a bunch of white racist youths).

Jamie - the surveilled classes will be pretty much on the same lines as the the current class structure, along with the other 'usual suspects' (think Asbos): this will keep Mail readers happy, until they get caught in the gaze of the Panopticon (at which point they'll scream and stamp their feet about how howwid at all is).

Richard J

...which explains why they took the side of the Lawrence family after their son's death (that, and the fact that even the Mail wasn't going to side with a bunch of white racist youths).

Wasn't that more down to Stephen Lawrence's dad having renovated Paul Dacre's kitchen? Not that the two are, of course, mutually exclusive.

Chris Williams

Back upthread, there's the bit about 'the natural reaction of the bureaucrat - bury it.'

Now, yes, but last week, 2 days after the protest, the City Commissioner declared that everything had been fine. I wonder if, before he said that, he'd had the wit to ask the Met officers in charge of the debrief "This dead guy - are you sure we had nothing to do with it, given that there's going to be an inquest?" And if he did say that, what answer did he get? Because it's apparent that a number of officers would have known that (a) they hit Tomlinson and (b) there were a lot of cameras about.

Chris Williams

PS Millwall are at home on Monday. Now that's a public order gig I'd have to have.

ejh

There are already slurs circulating about Ian Tomlinson

I've been away for a few days (well, in the UK, but I try not to read the papers when I'm there) so I may have missed this - but what slurs? I'm aware of the pattern of blackening the dead guy's name in off-the-record briefings, but I didn't think it had happened this time.

jamie

Generally that he was drunk and "he didn;lt move quickly enough" and "what was he doing there anyway". There doesn't seem to be the same central talking point push that there was over de Menezes, and the media seem a bit less willing to toe the line.

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