- Update : Racist police emails ‘disturbing and gross’, says Overland, Thomas Hunter, The Age, March 25, 2010. “A series of racist and pornographic emails shared among Victoria Police officers are too shocking to ever be released publicly, the state’s police chief says.” OMGWTF. Next thing you know, someone will suggest that political parties contain racist elements.
Look out Senior Sergeant, they’re comin’ right for us!
Officer mistook carton of juice for weapon
March 22, 2010
A policeman struck a G20 protester twice with a baton after mistaking a carton of orange juice in her hand for a weapon, a court has heard…
- Bank vandalism student jailed for G20 demo violence
February 12, 2010
A student from Brighton who took part in an attack on a bank during the G20 protests in central London has been jailed for two-and-a-half years.
Phillip Georgopoulos, 26, helped throw a computer monitor through the window of the Royal Bank of Scotland’s Threadneedle Street branch in the City…
Racism claims put spotlight on OPI-police ties
March 19, 2010
A LEGAL framework to prevent cosy relationships and career swaps between top members of Victoria’s Office of Police Integrity and the organisation it is responsible for investigating, Victoria Police, is urgently needed, according to the author of a report on police racism.
Tamar Hopkins told The Australian yesterday that career moves such as that of the OPI’s former deputy director, Graham Ashton, to a top role at Victoria Police, created an unhealthy public perception of “agency capture” for a watchdog body in desperate need of public confidence in its independence…
Police probed on racist email
March 25, 2010
UP TO 100 police are under investigation over a racist email.
One detective sergeant faces the sack after he was notified he had lost the confidence of the Chief Commissioner and must show cause why he should not be dismissed.
The investigation centres on a graphic image of an ethnic man being tortured…
Terms of Art
London Review of Books
Vol.32, No.5, March 11, 2010
…To defend the status quo as the Home Office did after the Middleton inquest was to reckon without the Human Rights Act, which was passed by Parliament in November 1998 and brought into law nearly two years later. In early 2004 Mrs Middleton finally got what she wanted: the law lords ruled that when the Coroners Act said an inquest must rule on ‘how’ a person came by their death, the word ‘how’ in fact meant ‘by what means and in what circumstances’, and so it was appropriate to go into the details of what had happened and in particular to look at any official dereliction of duty that might be thought to have been causative. No doubt their lordships were much influenced by the statistics on prison deaths: in the years between 1990 and 2003 there were 947 self-inflicted deaths in prison, 177 of them of detainees aged 21 or under. At the time the case was heard more than a third of the deaths – there were very nearly two a week – were of people who had not even been convicted of an offence. One in five of those who killed themselves were women, a proportion far in excess of the female prison population, and two-fifths of the deaths occurred in the first month of custody.
Parliament’s effort to narrow the scope of inquests was undone by Article 2 of the European Convention on Human Rights. This ‘right to life’ provision had been interpreted by the Strasbourg judges as involving not only a prohibition on state killing but also a positive obligation properly to investigate killings that occur in suspicious circumstances within a state’s jurisdiction: cases in which the state’s negligence or reckless indifference may have been partly or wholly responsible for the death. (This can include killings by third parties as well as suicide: the year before Middleton, the law lords extended Article 2 to cover the death of Zahid Mubarek, a 19-year-old Asian prisoner murdered by Robert Stewart, with whom he shared a cell. Stewart was a violent racist – as the authorities knew when they allocated him a cell with his eventual victim.) The authorities had to act in accordance with Article 2, which meant, crucially for the outcome in Middleton, that judges could interpret pre-existing law in a way that was compatible with the convention rights if this was, as Section 3(1) of the Human Rights Act put it, ‘possible’ (not ‘reasonably possible’ or ‘probable’ or ‘practical’, but merely ‘possible’, which is almost the same as ‘not impossible’). This allowed the law lords to play around with the word ‘how’ in Middleton without exposing themselves to allegations of usurping the legislature.
Since this decision, in case after case, concerned relatives have been able to pursue the authorities – sometimes the police, often the prison service and occasionally local NHS trusts – to find out what had really happened to a family member. When the Iraq war began, coroners started to find that the bodies of members of the British forces were being returned to their jurisdiction with controversy raging over the manner of their death. These cases too have now been brought within Article 2’s remit. In a court of appeal case on 18 May last year (soon to go before the Supreme Court) the death from heatstroke in an Iraq military camp of Private Jason Smith in August 2003 was held – rightly – to be a matter for investigation by the assistant deputy coroner for Oxfordshire, into whose territory the body had been returned. Smith had had to endure shade temperatures in excess of 50ºC without air-conditioning. He had been sick in the days leading up to his death, despite which it appears he was given no adequate support of any sort. The appeal judges did not see why the possible culpability of the state should not be investigated merely because his death had occurred in Basra rather than Britain…
See also : Coercive Solutions, Ross McKibbin, LRB blog, February 26, 2010.