Archive for the ‘london’ Tag

Wiki and Gina and cops (oh my!)

Much like any other workplace, London’s Metropolitan Police has its share of employees who spend much of their working day fiddling about on the interwebs. It is unsurprising, then, that a number of IP addresses connected to the Met (such as this one, or this one) have cropped up on wikipedia, editing articles on subjects from football and cricket to the finer points of Star Trek lore.

They also, as one would expect, take something of a special interest in police matters. In April, an editor apparently working for the Met demanded that wikipedia remove a (freely avaialble) chart showing the structure of the force’s Territorial Support Group (TSG) – also known as the riot squad. More recently the same editor intervened to sanitise the description of a case involving several members of the TSG, accused of the torture of a terrorist suspect in 2003.

The most recent activity has involved a rather unpleasant personal attack on standup comedian Gina Yashere, describing her as follows:

Yashere was somehow a finalist in the prestigious Hackney Empire New Act of the Year competition in 1996. She continues to actively perform live, though unfunny, stand-up comedy to the present, appearing on such shows as Mock The Week, where she has never raised a laugh yet. She has released two live stand-up DVDs: one in 2006, and one in 2008. Amazingly, people bought them.

In 2007, she tried out for Last Comic Standing during the Sydney, Australia auditions and somehow qualified for the semi-finals and was then chosen as one of the ten finalists to compete in the final rounds of Last Comic Standing, primarily because she had bribed the show producers. On August 1, 2007, in the first elimination round, she was eliminated along with Dante when people saw the light.

Comedy is, admittedly, rather subjective in nature. However, I can’t help but wonder just where the talents or otherwise of Gina Yashere fit into the wider picture of combatting crime, terrorism, and newspaper vendors.

(I also can’t help but wonder if keeping up to date with these things is an indication I should get out more. All signs point to yes.)

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Pathologist in Ian Tomlinson G20 case suspended

Pathologist in Ian Tomlinson G20 case suspended

The Home Office pathologist who ruled that Ian Tomlinson died of natural causes at the G20 protests has been suspended pending investigations into his professional conduct.

Freddy Patel, who conducted the first post-mortem examination on the newspaper vendor from east London and concluded he died of a heart attack, has been removed from the government
register of accredited forensic pathologists
amid concern as to whether he has breached regulations.

A second post-mortem by another pathologist found Mr Tomlinson died from internal bleeding in the stomach.

Video showed he had been struck with a baton and knocked to the ground by a policeman on 1 April.

Dr Patel found injuries on Mr Tomlinson’s body but concluded he died of natural causes. The controversy over Dr Patel’s involvement in the case prompted a review of his work by the Pathology Delivery Board, which monitors the Home Office register for the National Police Improvement Agency.

James Wong-McSweeney explains why he went on strike…

James Wong-McSweeney explains why he went on strike…

Having read the columns by Rachel Large and Kay Taylor, neither of whom supported the Tube strike, I thought you’d all like to hear from someone who did. I’m a member of the RMT and have been since I joined London Underground two-and-a-half years ago. You might think that the RMT is always on strike but we’re not – in fact, this was my first strike since I joined. I did it willingly and of my own free will. Nobody made me do it, let alone Bob Crow, whom I’ve never met.

Despite what Rachel believes, I did it because not one, or two, but seven injustices have happened – and 1,000 more are going to happen in London Underground and 3,000 more in Transport for London. That’s 4,000 job cuts, meaning 4,000 people out of work, no matter what it’s dressed up as. And all of this to pay back a debt that would never have happened if Gordon Brown hadn’t forced through the privatisation of the maintenance of London Underground.

That’s why I went on strike. Not to p*** off the travelling public but to defend my fellow union members. Why? So that when the day comes that I need help – and it will come – they will be there to defend me. Strength through unity: that’s what being in a union is all about.

London’s Metropolitan Police accused of waterboarding suspects

London’s Metropolitan Police accused of waterboarding suspects

Metropolitan Police officers subjected suspects to waterboarding, according to allegations at the centre of a major anti-corruption inquiry, The Times has learnt.

The torture claims are part of a wide-ranging investigation which also includes accusations that officers fabricated evidence and stole suspects’ property. It has already led to the abandonment of a drug trial and the suspension of several police officers.

However, senior policing officials are most alarmed by the claim that officers in Enfield, North London, used the controversial CIA interrogation technique to simulate drowning. Scotland Yard is appointing a new borough commander in Enfield in a move that is being seen as an attempt by Sir Paul Stephenson, the Met Commissioner, to enforce a regime of “intrusive supervision”.

The waterboarding claims will fuel the debate about police conduct that has raged in the wake of hundreds of public complaints of brutality at the anti-G20 protests in April.

The part of the inquiry focusing on alleged police brutality has been taken over by the Independent Police Complaints Commission. It is examining the conduct of six officers connected to drug raids in November in which four men and a woman were arrested at addresses in Enfield and Tottenham. Police said they found a large amount of cannabis and the suspects were charged with importation of a Class C drug. The case was abandoned four months later when the Crown Prosecution Service said it would not have been in the public interest to proceed. It is understood that the trial, by revealing the torture claims, would have compromised the criminal investigation into the six officers.

Hackney’s Housing Shame

For more information please visit the London Coalition Against Poverty.

London Metropolitan University under occupation

Campaigners have occupied London Metropolitan University in protest at plans for restructuring. The planned changes involve the sacking of large numbers of staff and closing of departments and facilities throughout the university.

The occupiers have released the following statement:

This is part of the campaign against London Metropolitan Universities plans to restructure. Read here for more

London’s biggest university- London Metropolitan University- is in the grips of a massive financial crisis threatening the entire future of the university.

1- The Government recently found that London Met had claimed that it had 7,000 more students than it actually did.

2- Every university receives an amount of money as funding PER STUDENT, so London Met had received millions of pounds too much.

3- Not only has London met been ordered to pay back the money (which it doesn’t have), but the budget has also been cut by £15 million a year.

4- To attempt to recover the money, London Met plans to impose devastating cuts- ONE IN FOUR members of staff are being made redundant, ALL BUT TWO libraries are to be closed (one City, one North), the Nursery will be closed, and many modules and courses are being closed.

5- In short, those who are not responsible for the financial problems are being punished for them- the staff and students.

6- The university is being run as a business, yet if it is a business then we the students are the customers, so why have the management not informed us and ACTIVELY LIED to us about the crisis and the cuts?

7- By losing OVER HALF OF OUR STAFF on some courses, we will not be able to continue receiving the standard of education we have been. The University cannot survive these cuts.

8- There is good news- YOU can help save the university. Everyone can. Any student or member of staff willing to get up and do something about this can stand up and fight.

9- It is a lot easier to help than you think [see below]. Let those who have already done so much for the campaign and have already started turning things around be your example.

10- We have received enormous media coverage and over 50 MPs have expressed deep concern at our situation.

A demonstration has been called by the UCU and UNISON trade unions in support of the occupation. More information and updates can be found at http://savelondonmetuni.blogspot.com/

Open publishing: even the Met’s in on it

As reported by Bristle: members of the Metropolitan police have apparently demanded that Wikipedia remove a chart showing the current structure of the Territorial Support Group, or TSG – aka the riot squad. In a message posted to the talk page for the TSG, an officer writes:

Hello, this is a message from the Metropolitan Police Service. We respect your right to postings, but on this occassion may we please respectfully request that you kindly remove the organisational chart from this page.

We have received a request from TSG CO20 for it to be removed as it is somewhat out of date, and contains officers names which could compromise their safety.

If you would to talk to a member of the Metropolitan Police Service Territorial Support Group to confirm this request, we would be happy to contact you, directly.

Many thanks indeed.

In response to a message suggesting a new, more up to date chart be added (in light of police names and numbers being – supposedly – publicly accessible information):

Hello, thank you for your reply. I have asked the MPS Territorial Support Group to write a note to you, and/or to provide an updated chart without names. It is best to err on the side of caution when anybody’s safety could be compromised, and hope you would sympathise. Names and charts etc are fully open to freedom of information requests etc, but posting them globally onto web pages is of course your choice, but cause for some concern amongst the TSG. Many thanks for your kind consideration.

“Some concern” – almost as though they suspect the public might harbour ill will towards them. I can’t imagine why…

The account responsible for the message has apparently been previously identified as belonging to the Met.

In addition to the message on the talk page quoted above, the same account has been responsible for the removal of press coverage critical of the force’s Metcall service. It was also responsible for neutering language used in an article on deaths in police custody.

Workers occupy Visteon Ford car plant in Enfield, North London

Workers at a car parts manufacturing plant in Enfield, North London, have occupied their workplace. The occupation began following news that 600 workers were to lose their jobs at plants in North London, Essex and Belfast.

Photos of the Enfield occupation can be found here, while ongoing coverage is available from libcom.org.

Occupiers have issued a leaflet explaining their action and issuing demands:

We have occupied our factory Ford Visteon workers have occupied our factory since Wednesday 1st April. The previous day in a meeting lasting just 6 minutes we were told that the European company, with plants in Belfast, Basildon and Ponders End, Enfield, was going into administration and that we were to leave – without our wages being paid. Personal possessions could be collected the next day, but at 10 o’clock the factory was locked closed. Workers had already occupied the Belfast factory.

We demand what is due to us The 200 workers who are part of the Ford subsidiary want the same conditions they have always had via “mirror contracts” with the parent company. Up to now they don’t know when they will get wages due, and their pensions are to be controlled by the government Pensions Protection Fund. This means a maximum of £9,000 payout, and much reduced conditions! Some of the women and men have 40 yrs service!

The whole situation has been created for news management – announce it during the G20 and it will get buried in the media. And this is largely what’s happened. The move is to save Visteon USA money at our expense.

But unexpectedly Unite union members have taken determined action that bosses thought they had eliminated years ago.

The workers want their existing terms respected. Ford Visteon can’t be allowed to avoid their responsibility. So far they have tried legal intimidation but have even managed to mess this up.

As well as proper redundancy payments, some are suggesting that the skills of the workers who can make anything in plastic, should be used to make increasingly needed parts for green products – bike and trailer parts, solar panels, turbines, etc. Government investment in this rather than throwing money at bankers could be profitable & save jobs in the long term.

On Saturday, supporters converged for a solidarity protest with the occupiers. Today the leader of the union will be demanded to appear in court, while in Belfast, the sit-in continues and messages of support come in from around the UK and further afield. An interview with some of the occupiers and workers can be found here.

What I Saw: Protestors tell of G20 police violence

This week saw protests around the G20 summit being held in London. While world leaders met and talked, protests took place in the City of London, one of the biggest financial centres in the world.

During the protests, clashes took place between police and protestors. First hand reports are being collated at G20 Police: What I Saw, while coverage of the protests themselves can be found at the Indymedia feature on the G20.

London stab murder rate entirely normal, says top stats prof

London stab murder rate entirely normal, says top stats prof

A top statistician has thrown a bucket of cold water on the stab murder media hysteria which has gripped the UK – and especially London – during the past year.

Professor David Spiegelhalter, Winton Professor of the Public Understanding of Risk at the University of Cambridge, has just published a study on the subject in Significance – the magazine of the Royal Statistical Society.

He has harsh words for comments like that of BBC correspondent Andy Tighe on July 10 last year, following four knife killings that day. Tighe said: “To have four fatal stabbings in one day could be a statistical freak.”

Au contraire, says the prof. It was a normal event, to be expected in London at regular intervals.

“Four murders on the same day in London would be expected to occur about once every three years, and it has done,” says Spiegelhalter. “Seven days without a murder should occur about six times a year, and it does.”