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Peter Reynolds

The life and times of Peter Reynolds

Posts Tagged ‘CPS

“War On Drugs Has Failed, Say Former Heads Of MI5, CPS And BBC”, The Daily Telegraph, 21st March 2011

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The “war on drugs” has failed and should be abandoned in favour of evidence-based policies that treat addiction as a health problem, according to prominent public figures including former heads of MI5 and the Crown Prosecution Service.

Drug availability and use has increased with up to 250 million people worldwide using narcotics such as cannabis, cocaine and heroin

Leading peers – including prominent Tories – say that despite governments worldwide drawing up tough laws against dealers and users over the past 50 years, illegal drugs have become more accessible.

Vast amounts of money have been wasted on unsuccessful crackdowns, while criminals have made fortunes importing drugs into this country.

The increasing use of the most harmful drugs such as heroin has also led to “enormous health problems”, according to the group.

The MPs and members of the House of Lords, who have formed a new All-Party Parliamentary Group on Drug Policy Reform, are calling for new policies to be drawn up on the basis of scientific evidence.

It could lead to calls for the British government to decriminalise drugs, or at least for the police and Crown Prosecution Service not to jail people for possession of small amounts of banned substances.

Their intervention could receive a sympathetic audience in Whitehall, where ministers and civil servants are trying to cut the numbers and cost of the prison population. The Justice Secretary, Ken Clarke, has already announced plans to help offenders kick drug habits rather than keeping them behind bars.

The former Labour government changed its mind repeatedly on the risks posed by cannabis use and was criticised for sacking its chief drug adviser, Prof David Nutt, when he claimed that ecstasy and LSD were less dangerous than alcohol.

The chairman of the new group, Baroness Meacher – who is also chairman of an NHS trust – told The Daily Telegraph: “Criminalising drug users has been an expensive catastrophe for individuals and communities.

“In the UK the time has come for a review of our 1971 Misuse of Drugs Act. I call on our Government to heed the advice of the UN Office on Drugs and Crime that drug addiction should be recognised as a health problem and not punished.

“We have the example of other countries to follow. The best is Portugal which has decriminalised drug use for 10 years. Portugal still has one of the lowest drug addiction rates in Europe, the trend of young people’s drug addiction is falling in Portugal against an upward trend in the surrounding countries, and the Portuguese prison population has fallen over time.”

Lord Lawson, who was Chancellor of the Exchequer between 1983 and 1989, said: “I have no doubt that the present policy is a disaster.

“This is an important issue, which I have thought about for many years. But I still don’t know what the right answer is – I have joined the APPG in the hope that it may help us to find the right answer.”

Other high-profile figures in the group include Baroness Manningham-Buller, who served as Director General of MI5, the security service, between 2002 and 2007; Lord Birt, the former Director-General of the BBC who went on to become a “blue-sky thinker” for Tony Blair; Lord Macdonald of River Glaven, until recently the Director of Public Prosecutions; and Lord Walton of Detchant, a former president of the British Medical Association and the General Medical Council.

Current MPs on the group include Peter Bottomley, who served as a junior minister under Margaret Thatcher; Mike Weatherley, the newly elected Tory MP for Hove and Portslade; and Julian Huppert, the Liberal Democrat MP for Cambridge.

The group’s formation coincides with the 50th anniversary of the United Nations Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs, which paved the way for a war on drugs by describing addiction as a “serious evil”, attempting to limit production for medicinal and scientific uses only, and coordinating international action against traffickers.

The peers and MPs say that despite governments “pouring vast resources” into the attempt to control drug markets, availability and use has increased, with up to 250 million people worldwide using narcotics such as cannabis, cocaine and heroin in 2008.

By Martin Beckford, Health Correspondent

They believe the trade in illegal drugs makes more than £200 billion a year for criminals and terrorists, as well as destabilising entire nations such as Afghanistan and Mexico.

As a result, the all-party group is working with the Beckley Foundation, a charitable trust, to review current policies and scientific evidence in order to draw up proposed new ways to deal with the problem.

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For A Bad Cop, Prison Is Just The Start

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Doing His Duty

I hope that  ex-Police Sergeant Mark Andrews had a really bad night on Tuesday.   It was his first night in jail after being sentenced to six months for assaulting Pamela Somerville, an innocent member of the public, someone he was paid and trusted to protect.  See here for the full story.

I hope he had a really bad day yesterday too.  I hope he’s scared.  I hope he’s ashamed and racked with guilt.  I hope he has a really bad day tomorrow and the day after and the day after that.  I hope every single minute of his jail time is frightening, distressing, humiliating and painful.  I hope he misses his wife and two children and is beside himself with grief and shame at the way he has let them down.  The man is pond life scum.  He should be extremely grateful that he got off so lightly because if I was the judge I would have considered six years to be a more appropriate sentence than six months.   In fact,  I really hope that the CPS appeals the sentence.  There’s no way that it is sufficient.  He’ll  be out in just 13 weeks and free to go back to his family.   He should be made to suffer.

When a police officer commits a crime, particularly an assault while on duty, it is far, far more serious than when it is an ordinary member of the public.  It is a breach of trust.   It is like a bank manager stealing from his own bank.  It can never be forgiven.  It has to be marked as the most heinous of crimes.

Sleazy Starmer

I suppose we have to be thankful that the CPS even brought charges in the first place.  It and its thoroughly sleazy boss, Keir Starmer, seem to do everything they can to avoid bringing police officers to justice.   Keir Starmer has the brazen cheek to pontificate about changing the system of murder charges when he is complicit in enabling police officers to avoid justice!  See here.   We’re really not interested in his thoughts about the future of justice in Britain.  He is too deeply ensconsed in the corruption and failures of the past.  We want him out of his job and on the scrapheap with Andrews.    In fact,  I’d have him in the cell next door to Andrews and I’d put them both back on slopping out but they could do each other’s rather than their own.

I congratulate Wiltshire Constabulary on bringing Andrews to justice and particularly the police officer who turned him in.  That man deserves a medal.

Killer

Thug

This should send a signal to thugs like Delroy Smellie, Simon Harwood and every other bent cop that you will never, ever get away with your behaviour.  Even if you manage to wriggle free like Smellie with the assistance of slimeball judges or evade the full force of the law like Harwood with the help of his crony Starmer, we, the British public, will never let you off.   It won’t ever be over for you, whether or not you do time in prison.  You and your kind are on a life sentence.  You will be despised, reviled, hated and subject to ridicule and abuse until the end of your days.  You deserve nothing less.

My MP, Richard Drax, To Write To David Cameron On Drugs Policy

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The Honourable Member For Dorset South

Today I met with my MP, Richard Drax.  He was just as sickeningly handsome and charming as I expected him to be!   So I showed him no mercy and bombarded him with my opinions for a good half an hour.

I realised afterwards that my favourite maxim “less is more” would have been a better strategy.  Nevertheless,  he did offer to write to David Cameron on my behalf on drugs policy and seemed genuinely sympathetic to some of the points I made.

I have just sent him a lengthy email in confirmation which I reproduce below.  If anyone wishes to use this as a template for a letter or email to their own MP, please feel free to do so.

******

Dear Richard,

Thank you so much for your time today.  I very much enjoyed meeting you.  As I said, I came with opinions not problems.  I am grateful to you for listening to me.

I realise that I made the classic mistake of bombarding you with far too much information and not giving you time to absorb any.  I hope I may correct that error by summarising here what we talked about.

1. Gary McKinnon. Thank heavens that progress seems to have been made on this. The idea of an “extradition” treaty that provides for someone to be sent to the USA for trial on an alleged crime committed here is iniquitous.  It’s particularly unfair in McKinnon’s case as he suffers from Asperger’s syndrome.  You pointed out to me that similar dangers exist with the new European arrest warrant.

I would urge you to do everything possible to ensure that if Gary McKinnon is to be tried, it should take place in the UK.

2. Ian Tomlinson. In my view the failure to prosecute the policeman who assaulted him is an outrage and Keir Starmer’s reasons entirely inadequate.  Now that the credibility of the pathologist in the case has been destroyed by a GMC panel, Starmer should at least reconsider and hopefully reverse his decision.

References here:


http://pjroldblog.wordpress.com/2010/08/31/killer-cop-harwood-must-be-charged/

http://pjroldblog.wordpress.com/2010/07/24/keir-starmer-the-next-lord-widgery/

I would urge you to press for a re-consideration of the decision not to bring charges.  If no criminal charges are brought, at the very least the disciplinary hearing should be held in public as the rules allow.  The Tomlinson family are entitled to justice.

3. Drugs policy. You very kindly agreed to write to David Cameron on my behalf.  I am very concerned at the conduct of the Home Office at present and particularly James Brokenshire, the Minister for Crime Prevention who is causing great damage to both the coalition governemnt and the Tory party by promoting ideas and policies that contradict virtually all expert opinion, including the government’s own scientific advisers.  He also seems to be completely at odds with the calls for drug law reform which both David Cameron and Nick Clegg have made consistently over the last 10 years.

This is not a peripheral or secondary issue.  According to Baroness Meacher in the House of Lords on 15th June 2010, “There is no more obvious waste than the £19 billion annual cost of the UK’s war on drugs”.

There is a huge amount of reference material on this subject on my blog:

http://pjroldblog.wordpress.com/?s=drugs

I would also refer you to the Transform Drug Policy Foundation which has highly detailed and almost universally acclaimed proposals for drug regulation:

http://www.tdpf.org.uk

Virtually all experts agree that the “war on drugs” has failed. In exactly the same way as alcohol prohibition in the US led to a massive increase in crime and violence, so drug prohibition has created an illegal market said to be worth £350 billion per year. It has also financed civil war in Latin America for 25 years and is the principal source of finance for Al Qaeda and the Taliban in Afghanistan. Our soldiers are dying every day because of the illegal trade in opiates.  Why don’t we just buy up the whole crop for the next 10 years?  It would be much cheaper in both cash and lives than the Afghan war.

Virtually all experts agree that regulation would be a better solution.  I have distilled the following five point plan from everything that I have read and learned over more than 30 years:

1. An end to oppression of drug users (at least 10 million UK citizens)
2. Removal from the criminal law of any offence for possession and/or social supply
3. Fact and evidence-based policy, information and regulation
4. Re-direction of law enforcement resources against real criminals
5. Treat problematic drug use as a health issue

Five years ago, while campaigning for the Tory party leadership, David Cameron called for “fresh thinking and a new approach” towards drugs policy and said that it would be “disappointing if radical options on the law on cannabis were not looked at”. Nick Clegg has promised to repeal “illiberal, intrusive and unnecessary” laws and to stop “making ordinary people criminals”. There can be no better example of this than the laws against personal use and cultivation of cannabis, particularly for medicinal reasons. The coalition government’s new Your Freedom website has been inundated with proposals to legalise cannabis and to end the futile war on drugs.   In July a poll carried out for the LibDems showed 70% of people in favour of legalising cannabis.

The Home Office and James Brokenshire are completely out of touch with expert and public opinion as well as the declared views of both the Prime Minister and the Deputy Prime Minister.

In my view, regulation means tighter control on the most dangerous drugs such as heroin, cocaine and alcohol and lighter regulation on relatively harmless substances like cannabis and ecstasy.

There is also the very important question of medicinal cannabis.  The discovery of the endocannabinoid system in 1998 has led to an ever-escalating volume of evidence of the medicinal value of cannabis.  In June the MHRA approved Sativex as an MS medicine in the UK.  It is a whole plant extract yet presently, the Home Office refuses to consider a regulated system of the plant itself for medicinal purposes.  This is completely irrational and absurd.  The House Of Lords scientific committee recommended such a system should be introduced 12 years ago.  Medicinal cannabis is available and regulated throughout almost all of Europe, Israel and 14 states in the USA (with 12 more in the planning stage).  The UK stands almost alone in its obstinate refusal even to consider such a system.

Already this is leading to quite obscene injustices where patients have been prescribed Sativex by their doctor but their health authority has refused to fund it and patients are then facing criminal prosecution for cultivating their own plants.  There is a case of exactly this going on in the Dorchester Crown Court at present and the CPS insists it is in the public interest to prosecute!

Thank you once again for listening to me Richard. I hope these notes are useful in composing your letter to David Cameron and I look forward to hearing from you in due course.

Kind regards,

Peter Reynolds

British Justice On Trial

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Thugs, Slimeballs And Grunts

At last, four of the Metropolitan Police’s Territorial Support Group are to stand in the dock charged with assault causing actual bodily harm and a jury is to decide their fate.   They are PC Nigel Cowley, PC Mark Jones, PC Roderick James-Bowen and DC John Donohue.

He's Got To Go

Perhaps Keir Starmer, Director Of Public Prosecutions, thinks he will win back some credibility through this after his catastrophically bad judgement in the Ian Tomlinson case.   Not a bit of it.  In fact, the decision to prosecute now after a successful civil claim against these thugs, proves how negligent the original decision was.  The CPS is charged to uphold the public interest by statute.   It should not have to be harried to the Court reluctantly by civil action.  Yet again, Keir Starmer should hang his head in shame.  In fact, he should resign

These officers have already been proven on the balance of probabilities to have illegally assaulted Babar Ahmad in 2003.  Last year the High Court heard that he  was subject to “serious, gratuitous, prolonged, unjustified violence” and “religious abuse”.   Now the criminal courts will seek to extend that proof to beyond a reasonable doubt.   Meanwhile, the Met, which decided against any disciplinary action, chooses not even to suspend these proven thugs and bullies.  Sir Paul Stephenson should join them in the dock.  His disrespect for due process is astounding.  How can he have such men under his command?  The IPCC also failed in this case – yet again.  In 2007, it decided to take no action against any of the officers.

Keeping Mum

Almost every day now, new horror stories of illegal, brutal or simply dumb police behaviour are revealed.  This is the reward we have reaped from the massive investment and huge increase in salaries we gave to the police in the 80s.  According to my contact with inside knowledge it is due to a “collapse in supervision…and an arrogance due to few cops having much other work experience”.  The police service is no such thing for the average British citizen.  It is a self-serving bureaucracy with an aggressive sub-culture, acting as a revenue generating workforce for the state.  It is institutionalised racism, brutality, prejudice, bullying, corruption, cowardice, freemasonry, all dressed up in a jack-the-lad, paramilitary uniform.   It isn’t even any good at what it does.    Aside from dealing with road accidents and high-level anti-terrorism, I know of little good work done by the British police.  It has become an out of control monster that avoids doing what the public wants and picks and chooses what to devote its resources to.

PC Simon Harwood

If Keir Starmer can reverse his decsion on these thugs who beat up a suspected terrorist, he can also reverse his decison on the fatal assault on Ian Tomlinson, an entirely innocent bystander.   Meanwhile we await impatiently the coroner’s inquest on his death and the disciplinary hearing against PC Simon Harwood, which must be held in public in accordance with the statutory provisions.

Every time that a police officer breaks the law or exceeds his powers he breaches our trust.   It is the same as a bank employee stealing from his bank.  It must be punished particularly severely.  This must be the standard that British police adhere to.  We must never relent from calling the corrupt and incompetent to account.

We Wait For Justice

Whether a conviction is possible in this latest case, seven years after the events took place, I don’t know.  On the basis of its own rules the CPS must believe a conviction is more likely than not or it wouldn’t be proceeding .  Justice delayed though, is justice denied for Babar Ahmad and the policemen.  This repeated and continuing incompetence by the prosecution and regulatory authorities is every bid as dangerous as the deterioration in the police.   Suspicions of corruption, collusion and conspiracy are inevitable and must be answered.  These are serious threats to British justice.

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.

Theresa May Must Act On Gary McKinnon And Ian Tomlinson

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It's Decision Time

After defence there can be no higher priority for any government than justice.  The new government’s honeymoon period is over.  The cases of Gary McKinnon and Ian Tomlinson need urgent attention from our new Home Secretary.

A Victim Not A Villain

Gary McKinnon’s case raises profound issues.  He is in danger of “extradition” to the US but any idea that this is some legitimate process is nonsense.  He is actually in danger of illegal rendition or kidnapping which the previous Labour government seemed ready to sanction.  Any alleged crime was committed on British soil so there isn’t even any question of “extradition”.  If he is to be tried he must be tried where the alleged crime was committed.

I understand that Theresa May has already asked for an adjournment of the proceedings.  This is a good start but we need to be certain that she stands up for fundamental principles.  There are many complexities in the McKinnon case but it is crystal clear that he must be tried in Britain.  See here for more information.

There seems though to be no progress at all on the murder of Ian Tomlinson at the G20 protests.  This is a scandal and injustice of the very highest order and those responsible for prevaricating and filibustering over bringing charges are criminals themselves.

Murder

Ian Tomlinson’s family waits helpless while the dilatory DPP, Keir Starmer, and the CPS quibble and procrastinate over facts that the whole country has seen revealed on its TV screens.  Obviously they intend to delay long enough so that the case be consigned to history like the murder of Blair Peach by a police officer in 1979.  It was only last month that the Metropolitan Police came clean on this, 30 years too late.

There is some nonsense excuse being peddled that there is a problem with obtaining expert medical evidence.  This is a dreadful miscarriage of justice.  These are issues for a jury to decide.  Keir Starmer  should be dismissed for gross misconduct and should consider himself lucky if he doesn’t go to jail for perverting the course of justice.

Thug

We have already seen the inexcuseable acquittal of  Sergeant Delroy Smellie, the thug who assaulted Nicola Fisher at the G20 protests (see here).   This must be one of the lowest points ever in the history of British justice.  There can be no other description of this verdict and District Judge Daphne Wickham who made the decision than corrupt.  She deserves to be tarred and feathered for what she has done.

What can be higher in priority on Theresa May’s todo list than these matters of great principle and injustice?  She should put everything else aside.  There can be no more excuses.

A Real Insight Into The Police

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The conduct of the police has been in the news again this week for all the wrong reasons.  First there was the disgracegful, outrageous and deeply corrupt acquittal of the thug policeman, Sgt Delroy Smellie, who beat up Nicola Fisher at the G20 protest.  See the story here.  There’s also the CPS’ deplorable failure to bring to trial the police officer who was responsible for the death of Ian Tomlinson, also at the G20 protest.  See here.

Evenin' All

Evenin' All

In the course of writing about these events and reading other blogs I came across Inspector Gadget. This is a blog by a policeman for policemen (and women).  I’m not quite clear whether the author is a serving police inspector or not.  If he’s still in the job I’m not sure that it’s entirely proper for him to be writing as he is but I’m still considering my verdict on that.

Inspector Gadget does offer an extraordinary insight into the attitudes of serving police officers.  There are hundreds of comments demonstrating intelligence, passion, anger, professionalism and, in a few cases, crass stupidity and irresponsibility.  I’m reassured that there are many police officers who see that the acquittal of Smellie and the delay in prosecuting the murder of Ian Tomlinson causes enormous damage to the police.  I am very deeply disturbed though by the attitudes that far too many of Inspector Gadget’s contributors demonstrate.

Put Up With It. It's Your Job.

It is quite clear that many officers are psychologically unsuited to the job and are not “fit and proper” people to be given the authority and responsibility of a police constable.  Judging by some of the contributors who claim to be trained in “split second decision making” and the control of violent disorder, I’d say that some of them are bordering on psychopathic.  They shouldn’t be allowed on the streets at all, let alone in a police uniform.

I think Inspector Gadget should be much more widely read, certainly within the Home Office and by those (I wish I knew who they are) who have control over the strategic direction of policing and police recruitment.  There are attitudes demonstrated that suggest to me we should be opening a whole new wing at Brixton or, more probably, Broadmoor, for psychopathic, violent ex-police officers.

Obviously this won’t make me popular with some people and, as I don’t hide my identity, maybe I should be expecting a knock on the door in the middle of the night, but I cannot stand by and let attitudes such as these prevail.

You’re not entitled to complain about being shouted at, abused,  sworn at, threatened (within limits) or protestors not obeying your “orders”.  This is all part of the job.

Your standard of behaviour must be far, far higher than the protestors.  If you cannot control your temper, even in the face of extreme provocation, you shouldn’t be in the job.

I am a strong supporter of the police.  The necessary concomitant of that is that any officer who steps out of line or goes over the top must be punished severely, more severely than if they were a member of the general public.

Anyone who cannot see the wrong perpetrated by Smellie against Fisher and by Officer X against Tomlinson is not fit to be a police officer.