Peter Reynolds

The life and times of Peter Reynolds

Posts Tagged ‘Chief Constable

A Tale Of Two Conferences

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“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair…”

A Tale Of Two Cities, Charles Dickens.

It was at its best as the brave Clark French and Cure Ukay gave their personal testimonies as medicinal cannabis users at the European Student Drug Policy Reform Conference.  It was at its worst when Peter Hitchens confronted me and Sir Ian Gilmore  at the University of Bedfordshire “A Ceasefire In The War On Drugs?” debate.

The Cannabis Panel

I am so proud to have been associated with both Clark’s and Cure’s contributions at the Manchester conference last weekend.  There were tears in the audience as first Clark, who has MS, then Cure, who has Crohn’s,  explained the reality of their daily lives and the relief that cannabis provides.  The following day, Clark had a relapse and he hobbled to the front to explain, his legs in spasm.  He went outside to take his medicine and literally skipped back into the conference hall.  It was like watching Christ telling someone to take up his bed and walk.  It was intensely moving.  It refreshed my enthusiasm.  It reignited my rage.  They are both warriors for the cause of great courage and dedication.  They are my inspiration.

The conference was a worthy and well-organised event.  Lembit Opik gave a barnstorming speech which had them whooping and cheering in the aisles. There were fascinating contributions from Sebastian Saville and Niamh Eastwood of Release, Darryl Bickler of the Drug Equality Alliance, Chris Hallam and Tom Lloyd of the  International Drug Policy Consortium.  There were very practical workshops on campaigning and an engrossing lecture from Chris Rose of Campaign Strategies.  I know I’m biased but I think Clark and Cure were the stars of the show!

And so to London on Wednesday evening for the debate at Kings College University, near Waterloo.  As I walked into the lecture theatre, there was Peter Hitchens chatting with Sir Ian Gilmore. I marched straight up and introduced myself, explaining to Hitchens that I am responsible for the four Press Complaints Commission complaints that he is currently facing.  I enquired after his brother’s health and he gave me a long and detailed explanation about Christopher’s oseophageal cancer.  He was extremely courteous to me.  I took my seat directly in front of him.

Ceasefire In The War On Drugs?

Hitchens spoke first.  He is the arch dissembler, presenting facts in such a way that he draws you towards a false conclusion. To be fair, he is a fine speaker but at the heart of his argument is an intellectual vacuum.

Sir Ian Gilmore, ex-president of the Royal College of Physicians went next.  He was quiet and dignified and presented a very scientific approach to harm reduction. Finally, Tim Hollis, Chief Constable of Humberside, stood in for David Blunkett. He was an entertaining speaker. I always rather like intelligent policemen.  They have a difficult job to do and I think the good ones are very valuable to society.

So to questions…and I was fidgeting in my seat with impatience!  I had my go, talked about the harms of prohibition, about taking the more pragmatic approach with a regulated system and the evil injustice of the denial of medicinal cannabis.  Right in front of me Hitchens was visibly seething. When I pointed out that his brother is a passionate advocate of medical marijuana he snapped.  He pointed at me, glared and shouted “Leave my brother out of it!”.

Steve Rolles from Transform spoke as did Harry Shapiro from Drugscope. Tom Lloyd, who had also spoken in Manchester contributed and there were many other intelligent observations and comments.  Hitchens was clearly unhappy.

We went back to the panel and Hitchens was aggressive in his response, gesturing at me and talking of  “idiots” and accusing Sir Ian of talking “drivel”.  I heckled him. he promised to “deal with you later” with another Alan Sugar-style stab of the  finger.  Sir Ian was next and he rather politely suggested that “Peter has his head in the sand” – at which Hitchens exploded!

He grabbed his coat and bag and made as if to leave.  It was a very deliberate flounce in high dudgeon.  Later it was suggested he did it for dramatic effect but no, it made him look foolish.  He was flummoxed by the opposition.

The chairman, ex-BBC presenter John Silverman, skillfully restrained him and persuaded him to stay.  In his closing statement Hitchens quoted some statistics from Portugal in an effort to disprove that country’s success with decriminalisation.  It would be against the rules for me to accuse him of anything more than dissembling but no one in the room recognised any truth in his figures.

It was an entertaining evening and a good opportunity to raise the profile of  CLEAR.  I’m back next week for another session entitled “How the World’s View of the Drugs ‘war’ is Changing”.

Moat’s Last Moments. Are All Our Policemen Wonderful?

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Almost Over

On Friday night they had Raoul Moat cornered at last.  It was the culmination of something more akin to a military invasion than a reasonable response to just one deranged nutter.   Northumbria Police had already made fools of themselves but we were all biting our lips,  not yet protesting, hoping against hope that there would be no further casualties.

The first photographs from the stand-off were released and they clearly showed police pointing tasers.  On BBC News the ex-police firearms expert was interviewed and asked why a taser couldn’t be used to disable Moat.  He answered quite unequivocally that using a taser when a man has a gun pointed at his head was more than likely to result in him firing the weapon involuntarily.

First thing on Saturday morning and it was no surprise to learn that Moat was dead.  What was utterly shocking was to learn that two tasers had been fired and the recording broadcast by the BBC revealed the shouting before the sound of the shotgun blast.  The unavoidable conclusion is that exactly what the firearms expert had predicted was what happened.

I don’t have any sympathy for Moat.  As far as I’m concerned a good case could have been made for him being shot on sight but I am very, very unhappy with the way the police handled the affair.

All Over Now

It may be that the denouement itself was handled properly.  We will never know what really happened however many inquiries we have.  What I am certain of is that overall the police should have done much better.  Those far, far better qualified to judge than me have already said as much.  I speak only as a concerned citizen.

I really worry about our police service.  While I believe there are many brave, honourable coppers, some of whom are highly skilled,  there are too many worrying indications that our police service is not up to the job.

There’s thuggery and the rank-closing covering-up and justification of it.  There’s the appalling canteen culture which is at the root of all the institutionalised racism, thuggery and freemasonry.  There’s the amateurish approach of senior officers who seem barely competent at times.  There is inevitably some corruption but also a long-running deception that the decision to prosecute is at arms length.  The police decide who to investigate in the first place. The CPS and the police eat in the same canteen

Look at the brutality of the police, the TSG in particular, at the Gaza and G20 protests and how they’ve got away with it.  Look at the Inspector Gadget police website for an insight into the disgusting attitude of many officers.   Look at the management of situations like the Cumbrian shootings and the Raoul Moat affair and the use of ludicrous, self-evidently bad ideas like the “kettling” at the Gaza and G20 protests.  Look at the income generation from speed cameras promoted by some chief constables.  Look at the absurd, intrusive, wildly excessive use of CCTV.  Look at the ridiculous administration routines that many chief constables have imposed.  Look at the insistence on retaining the DNA of innocent people.

The police are now very well paid.  A starting police officer gets about twice as much as a starting soldier.   They have wonderful pension arrangements.  They’re also excused, let off and get away with behaviour that should never be allowed.  Look at the thug, Sergeant Delroy Smellie , who repeatedly beat Nicola Fisher at the G20 protest and got away with it, or the officer who assaulted Ian Tomlinson, who later died, and who has still not been charged over a year later.

All the brave, honourable coppers are let down by those bad apples which myopic “support” of the police allows to rot and infect the rest.

The British police service needs a shake up.  It is complacent and inefficient.  Excellent work is done in anti-terrorism and organised crime but the truth is not all our policemen are wonderful.  We need to face up to that truth and make some changes.  Perhaps locally elected police chiefs are a way forward.

Thug Plod On The Loose

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How many weeks on and we still have no progress on the police murder at the G20 protest?  What is the IPCC up to?

Brutal Assault

Brutal Assault

Now, again, we have crystal clear proof of outrageous, unjustified police assault.  It is a huge failure of leadership that the Chief Constable Of Nottingham has not already had the officers concerned in this scandal suspended and charged.   More than that, I believe that his failure to do so is a criminal offence in itself.  He is not just dithering, he is failing in his most fundamental duty – to protect the public.

Our tolerance level for this sort of police conduct is already terrifyingly high.  If he does not act then the Home Secretary should step in immediately.  This is not time for enquiries.  This is time for police thugs to be treated like any other lowlife pig and put in irons.

Why Are We Waiting?

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What are they up to?  The robbery has taken place, much of it caught on CCTV.  They were called weeks ago.  Are they just sitting on their backsides finishing their tea?  Maybe their sluggish response is due to flat feet or learning difficulties?  We, the victims,  are still waiting.  Meanwhile the crooks are desperately trying to cover up the evidence, even returning some of what they have stolen, cooking their books, arm twisting the judges, launching PR and propaganda campaigns to distort the truth.

Where Is He Hiding?

Where Is He Hiding?

Where are the police?  Are we back in the day when the village bobby cowtows to the local squire, tugs his forelock and turns a blind eye?

Perhaps they’re being held back by corrupt senior officers,  or their lawyers are fiddling while Rome burns and they’re too scared to uphold the law?

Who Else Will Stand Up For Justice?

Who Else Will Stand Up For Justice?

Each and every Chief Constable in the country should by now have launched an investigation into his or her local MPs.  Sir Paul Stephenson of the Met, supposedly went into a meeting with the CPS about a fortnight ago.  What the hell are they up to?  There’s much more urgency when a hungry single mother steals food for her children from Sainsburys. The sirens blare out quickly enough then!

This is a disgraceful state of affairs and the police are letting us down.  This must be more work for the Independent Police Complaints Commission or are we left with no option but to turn to Batman and Robin?  Who else will stand up for justice?

Meanwhile, Mrs Patel is up before the beak in Harrow today under The Fraud Act 2006 for telling fibs about her address to get her child into a better school.  See the story here

This is the state of justice in Britain today.