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Archive for the ‘Crime’ Category

The Blues

with 3 comments

Which have nothing to do with music or Chelsea!

Apologies for the recent lack of posts in here, I’m going through another of those inexplicable periods that stifles creativity, optimism, the will to write, and a slight depression. Much of it has been brought about by seeing rioters locked away without any real efforts to have them clean up their communities (I knew things were heading in the wrong direction) too many doctors were producing a diagnosis and then prescribing entirely the wrong medicine, the illness will not be cured. Heard a really interesting interview on BBC Radio 5 Live yesterday evening with a former policeman in Glasgow who is now involved in a project to reduce violent crime and gangland culture which has had startling results over the past year, shame it isn’t available as a podcast for you to hear. The crux of his solutions was to offer a stark choice between punishment and reform coupled with multi-partnership early intervention schemes starting with parenting classes and advice centres which put great emphasis on the first three years of life helping (mainly) single parents to introduce empathy, consideration, a realisation of the consequences of poor behaviour, and its effects upon others around you. The scheme also involves parents and teachers working together to reintroduce discipline at school and in the home for children between four and fourteen with rewards for good behaviour and reductions in privileges for poor behaviour. Those who do make the choice to join gangs and enter into a life of criminality in their teens are warned of the “zero tolerance” attitude that their local police will take going right down to the point of possible eviction from social housing, chasing down their mothers if they don’t have a TV Licence, chasing down the family if their car is not taxed, chasing down those who are in arrears with council tax, in other words the police promise to be “in their faces” all day long. Local courts are encouraged to hand down more community sentences which see offenders making real reparations for the damage that they may have caused, they get to meet victims of crime and experience the horrors and fears that many carry with them for life.  On the other hand, if they choose not to display criminal behaviour they will be offered places in schemes which channel their energies in better ways such as football teams, youth groups, apprenticeships, art classes, special interest groups that teach music, video editing, video game programming, all the things that modern teenagers would probably love to do.

Unfortunately such schemes can be costly to run, but economically make good long term sense, particularly if re-offending rates begin to collapse, and they have in Glasgow, no wonder that the Strathclyde Chief Constable is one of the favourites to take over at the Met.

Then to cap off a bad week, the politicians in their wisdom decided that everything was more or less solved so they took off on holiday again!

If that wasn’t bad enough to give you the blues, I don’t what is.

As a typical South Shields football supporting lad I was looking forward to yesterday’s derby match between Sunderland and Newcastle, but now working every Saturday prevents me from going to the Stadium of Light to watch Sunderland, (my visits will have to be restricted to Sunday and mid week games now), but two sessions in front of the box watching Match of the Day have simply added to my depression, two games against Liverpool and The Mags should have netted six points if only our strikers could hit the bloody target! I fear a week of solid ribbing from the black and white half of this town. At least yesterday’s game appears to have been trouble free with only 21 arrests at the ground, which is pretty good from a capacity crowd!

So……….hoping that a bit of cricket this weekend will cheer us all up as England try their hardest to secure a test series whitewash of India, two days left to bowl them out twice for a humiliating innings defeat, at least we can say we’re champions at something! For those poor folk who cannot, or would not, dream of paying for a Sky subscription there’s  always Test Match Special on BBC Radio, probably the best tonic for the blues and depressions, even without the venerable “Johnners” there are enough characters to give you a laugh, I leave you (for now) with this little classic!


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Written by curly

August 21, 2011 at 11:32 am

Riot narrative heading in wrong direction

with 15 comments

Ill considered words and gestures ramping up repression

It’s OK talking and acting tough if you are getting results that matter to the rest of us, but David Cameron’s performance in the House of Commons yesterday, whilst good for his own authority as PM, does not portend well if he actually means what he says.

The overall impression that Cameron saved the country from burning down by returning from holiday early might look great to some but there is a lot of discomfort behind the headlines. Talking of tracking down and punishing the rioters would be fine if that is what he actually meant, the courts so far have sent out very mixed signals with some lenient sentences and some heavier sentences, but what is apparent is the lust of ordinary people up and down the country to lock young people away and throw away the key. Cameron latched on to this as he abandoned his “hug a hoodie” attitude promising jail terms for those convicted of involvement in the riots and looting, yet surely what we really need to see is armies of strictly supervised young people working at least 40 hours per week in their communities putting right the damage that they have caused. Surely this will have more productive long term benefits than locking them away for foolishly stealing bottled water, in six months some of them may even be on their way towards learning a skill or a trade!

Cameron talked of legislating to increase the sentences available to magistrates, instead of thinking about toughening up referral orders where offenders may only be required to work a few hours per week in the community, and what did he mean by a review of dispersal rules to give a “wider power of curfew”? Something which perhaps might be a terrible burden on the innocent and unaffected. He made pretty overt and open criticism of the Met Police’s failure to deal with the initial outbreak of violence in Tottenham, perhaps unfairly without first praising the bravery of the individual officers who faced that first unruly mob, and it is already coming back to bite him as sections of the police feel rather slighted and Sir Hugh Orde rounded on politicians and the Home Secretary in particular.

On taking office as Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher immediately had the police on side with a 40% pay increase, David Cameron does not have that advantage, he faced increasing frustration in the House of Commons yesterday over future police budgets and this argument is now spreading into the wider public forum, his only counter balance is to offer more powers to the police which always carries the risk of repressive policy which does not convey the “consensual policing” that many regard as the cornerstone of British law enforcement. Talking of closing down or restricting the services of certain social networking sites is dangerous and unnecessary,  it is not the services at fault it is the users. Conservative MP Louise Mensch has waded in with this:

“Common sense. If riot info and fear is spreading by Facebook & Twitter, shut them off for an hour or two, then restore. World won’t implode,”

Yet we baulk at the suggestions that other countries such as Burma, Saudi Arabia, Iran, or China take such oppressive action to censor the internet, those few small hours certainly would represent the thin end of the wedge and lead us down a darker path! Paradoxically it might even prevent the emergence of real community spirit evidence by the “broom army” in London. The whole concept of censorship and the choking of information is not something that I welcome, it is inherently not the British way and will damage good journalism (and yes we have to acknowledge that some of the news coverage fed the ambitions of the rioting crowds for a couple of days) resourceful journalist made very good use of Twitter to get around London, Manchester, and Birmingham to cover events and some of their stories and pictures have led to the identification of suspects and consequent arrests.

So we heard a few knee jerk reactions yesterday, the dust is settling, the politicians can resume their holidays, the magistrates will continue to confound, but has this emergency session of Parliament really changed the game? Well, yes it did a little, but not for the common good.

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Written by curly

August 12, 2011 at 10:44 am


with 40 comments

police baton Standard issue Met Police baton

This is the standard Met issue Arnold baton, I don’t think it has seen a lot of use over the past couple of days, and while plenty of commentators are advocating the use of water canon and armoured vehicles, and even suggesting an imposed curfew (which hurts the innocent law abiding citizen) perhaps we ought to allow the police in London to use what they already have.

For too long now we have treat the feral youths of our capital and other large cities with kid gloves, mollycoddled them at the breast of the mother state, nurtured them with welfare handouts, protected them with Elf ‘n ‘safety concerns, awarded them ASBO badges, Nike shoes, Adidas track suits and hoodies, gold bling, PS3s, Black berries and McDonald’s burgers. Whenever they come into contact with the law they get another caution until after a score of them they face a magistrate and get told to do some community service which is then never carried out, instead they return to do service for the gang scoring a few more deals, and earning a crust by caching knives and “nines” for those hiding further up the drug supply chain. They pay no attention to mother and often do not even know who father is, teachers are only there to be abused or stabbed, and life is no good to them unless they have a 42 inch plasma screen to play Battlefield 3 on. Thuggery is just part and parcel of their street “culture”, it’s a tough life out there man!

Meanwhile the rest of us go to work, strive to make an honest living, pay our taxes to provide more and more “services” for those who refuse to contribute a penny towards them, and over the last three days we have seen the results of our work. Didn’t they thank us for our largesse in the most generous fashion, looting and burning, killing off businesses, scaring people with their insane violence, making some folks homeless, and challenging authority in the most horrible manner imaginable. Perhaps they don’t feel included in our society because they have contributed nothing towards it, but they want, they want, and want more, and even more if it comes freely!

Where the hell did we go wrong? (oops, I think I answered that above.)

David Cameron’s return from holiday makes the riots look even more like a crisis, but at least the recall of Parliament might tie all of our political leaders into a unified deal on how to police the streets, we might hear less of the silly arguments about social conditions, deprivation, joblessness, economic cuts etc. They may be a very small factor, but the overwhelming factor is lawlessness, thuggery, robbery, and violence that has little at all to do with the shooting of Mark Duggan now. It is all about grabbing as much as you can, knowing that the police may be stretched to the limits, it is all about acquiring new status symbols which they feel “entitled” to have.

My hope is that whatever violence ensues around the country tonight or tomorrow will be met by a much stiffer and robust response from the police who are charged with protecting life and property, being overwhelmed by numbers may not be the fullest answer, but it will help them, their foes are not in the business of respecting authority, they might only respect those who stand up to them. Therefore I hope that the Met take advantage of the polycarbonate Arnold baton that they carry, and make bloody good use of it, and perhaps avail themselves of a few plastic baton rounds to cause a little pain and suffering. These riots must be quelled quickly and effectively, the youths must not be allowed to develop guerilla tactics, they do not have a cause to rally to any longer other than sheer greed. Let them be dragged kicking and screaming off the streets of our cities, they must not be allowed to think they own those streets.

And finally, let’s not make the mistake of locking them away for a few weeks at Her Majesty’s pleasure where they will only learn new tricks, they should be physically forced to go out strictly supervised into their communities to put right the damage that they have caused. They should be made to understand the effects of their hideous actions, feel some pain and suffering of their own, they should be kept away from their Blackberries, PS3s, XBoxes, laptops, iPods and iPads, kept away from their fellow gang members and made to stay with mother for twelve hours each night. Mother should be made to forfeit a heavy long term fine too, clearly she doesn’t understand the responsibilities of parenthood!

The events of the last few nights have angered and embarrassed me as an Englishman, so much that it has constrained my libertarian tendency for now, come on what rights without responsibilities do these teenage thugs think they have!

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Written by curly

August 9, 2011 at 2:10 pm

A familiar pattern of denial

with 9 comments

The gullible and ill informed South Tynesiders willingly sign a petition.

Despite a plethora of ramblings and ill advised comment against his detractors, and there are many, Cllr. David Potts the independent former Conservative councillor for Cleadon Village and East Boldon makes some cogent and lucid observations on his Twitter account about Mr. John Robertson and the petition that he is to present to South Tyneside  Council objecting to the use of tax payer’s cash to legally investigate the alleged author(s) of the Mr. Monkey blog and other internet titles.

Although sadly not available to read online, in a recent Shields Gazette article the bankrupt Mr. Robertson makes more protestations about the affair and the cost so far to council tax payers, and to back up his claims he has produced a petition with hundreds of names of gullible poorly informed South Tyneside people which the council “will consider in due course”. How many of those people are aware of Mr. Robertson’s open and tangible distaste for anything linked to South Tyneside Council is open to question. As is their level of familiarity with his suspended jail sentence for causing £160000 worth of criminal damage to our assets in the course of his dispute with the council, damage which his insurer will have to cover and which will ensure that law abiding drivers will continue to be hit with high premiums! How much do they know of the legal costs expended on their behalf to seek reparations for the criminal behaviour of Mr. Robertson? One wonders also at the level of quality information that Mr. Robertson provided the petitioners about the type of vile, disgusting, personal, and potentially libellous comments published by the author(s) of the range of blogs still left lying around the internet for all to see. Would a petitioner be pleased to find out, for instance, that a relative of theirs may have been painted to be a predatory paedophile and a danger to children simply for photographing public events in the borough? Just one of the type of dangerous, demeaning, and damaging comments aimed at individuals in South Tyneside

As ever with all of those people interconnected with the South Tyneside Independent Alliance, and Mr. Robertson was NOT one of their candidates in last May’s elections, there is a veritable wall of silence regarding the aforementioned type of comments, – no condemnation, no refutations or rebuttals, simply “no comment”, – it is a familiar pattern. Mr. Robertson is another who can add his name to the roll of those with nothing to say on the vilifications. It gives the impression that they are in total denial, as though all of their supporters never flocked to those places, treating them like a semi-official party website.

Yet still we see Mr. Robertson having the brass neck and sheer gall to produce this petition, and to rub salt into the wounds of those personally damaged by the rogue anonymous bloggers he comments on a Shields Gazette article penning himself as “Mr. Monkey”

19 Mr Monkey Monday, July 4, 2011 at 07:42 PM

Thanks for all the positive and negative comments, as well as the personal consequences of this, the following organisations which we sponsored each year have also suffered & 20 employees—-St Clare’s hospice— 12 Junior football teams–South Tyneside Council summer festival—-South Tyneside Homes star awards—- The Mayor’s Charity—-Bilton Hall Boxing Club—Little Sisters of the Poor—-Mental Health in South Tyneside—-Regards John Robertson

Perhaps he is just deliberately trying to muddy the water with this unusual behaviour.

Regardless of the criminal court case and sentence, and regardless of his own bankruptcy Mr. Robertson reiterates his desire to become a South Tyneside councillor! Has anyone  informed him of the laws regarding legal qualification for candidates?

What gets under my skin most of all about his publicity stunt is that odd display of righteous indignation over the spending of public funds; what qualifies a man who cannot handle his own business finances and runs up debts of about £1.3m to judge and scrutinise spending on our behalf? What makes a man whose business acumen was so poor that it led to 20 people losing their jobs think he has the right characteristics to sit as a councillor in a borough crying out for economic regeneration?


At this point I think it right to call upon those remaining few Independent Alliance councillors in South Tyneside (Allen Branley, Jane Branley, Ahmed Khan, Gordon Finch, John Hodgson, and Geraldine White) to collectively and firmly condemn once and for all the author(s) of the offending blogs which have brought this borough into disrepute and tarnished the political debate.

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Written by curly

August 4, 2011 at 6:51 pm

“Rocky” Cameron rolls with the punches

with 3 comments

PM emerges bruised from the debate but not battered.

Haven’t done a “pea roast” for a while so I thought I’d throw a couple in today.

Apologies for the lack of posts recently, I’ve been doing a gargantuan research into the analytics of this blog which has now been running for six and a half years, a lot has changed over that time in terms of readership and demographics along with a huge increase in the amount of blogging, micro blogging, social networking,  and the platforms which carry such content. Suffice to say that this blog either needs to keep up with the pace of change or close completely in advance of a new offering. There certainly will be changes over the coming months, the first of which will be a total overhaul of the sidebar links, many of which are now dead, followed by a complete alteration to the style sheet and template. Sorry it has taken so much of my time but it has been a necessary journey.

I managed to catch the first hour and a half of yesterdays debate in the House of Commons and the Prime Minister’s statement about the phone hacking affair, a debate in which he was seen to come out fighting and defended himself reasonably well against MPs lined up to beat him into submission. This was no “humble pie” moment, but a tough fight, Cameron had his back against the ropes and had to take on all comers, he was expecting a heavyweight onslaught from Ed Miliband but the Opposition Leader appeared to have lost some weight, or focus, and only managed to pepper “Call me Dave” with middleweight shots to the midriff, however it was enough to strengthen the nerve of his corner who sent in wave after wave of bruisers to rough up the PM. Cameron didn’t hide away, he stood in the ring for what seemed like 38 rounds and after the fight was roundly applauded by his supporters, including what looked like a 13 year old schoolboy journalist Daniel Knowles.

So a success for David Cameron, but Ed Miliband is not too unhappy either. The Parliamentary Labour Party seems satisfied enough with the few hits he has landed over the past fortnight. In fact, I just spotted him in Strangers’ Bar with (I think) David Miliband with a broad grin on his face. So both leaders are going into recess as secure as they could reasonably hope to be. Everyone’s a winner – everyone but Rupert Murdoch anyway.

The South Shields MP David Miliband must have been pleased, nobody mentioned his partying with the Murdochs!

The party, held two weekends ago, reveals the extent of the couple’s connections on both sides of the Commons.

As a jazz band played in the landscaped gardens of the £6  million property, Mr Freud, who was wearing leather trousers, greeted guests, including Education Secretary Michael Gove and Culture Minister Ed Vaizey. They drank champagne in the company of former Labour Cabinet Ministers Peter Mandelson, David Miliband, James Purnell and Douglas Alexander.

He’d also be pleased in knowing that news of his other work for US corporations was well and truly buried by yesterday’s cream pie bun fight as he continues treading the path created by his mentor Tony Blair.

However it was good to be reminded by the PM that the vast majority of the phone hacking outrages happened some years ago whilst Blair, Brown, and Miliband were running the ship on to the rocks, as we recalled Rebekah Brooks statement the previous day that she’d been invited to Downing Street about six times a year by the last Prime Minister but so far not once by Cameron. The PM also got in a great right hook at Ed Miliband by reminding him that since Coulson is no longer in government employ, the only person with an ex News International hack working for them is the Leader of the Opposition!

As a “judgement day” fight it lived up to it’s billing, the referee had a great deal of work to do much of it in keeping the baying hoards quiet, some just wished that Bercow could manage to be a little more even handed and hush the Labour benches too. Miliband the middleweight could be judged to be both effective and dangerous in the opening rounds but he soon ran out of steam, the fact that he still has a former News International employee working in his corner will not have helped, but fortunately his troops ensured that Cameron took a number of body blows particularly about those conversations hinged around the BSkyB takeover, he kept ducking and diving to evade the shots whether they were “inappropriate” or not! One wonders why his corner men did not give him a better briefing on Labour’s tactic for this manoeuvre,  surely it would have been far better for him to tell the ringside spectators that yes it was inevitable that people came to him and discussed the proposed deal, that’s just what we expect major companies to do with Prime Ministers, but actually I listened and fobbed them off, I told them I have no say in the matter, go and see Jeremy Hunt instead! Instead he stood there trying to parry the blows to the ribs round after round after round until with the final shot he just let out an anguished sigh! It was an unedifying end to a long fight.

Many will judge this fight as a draw and look forward to a rematch after the summer recess, Cameron’s judgement is still under question today and he needs to reveal the name of the company employed to vet Coulson on behalf of the Conservative Party when in Opposition, Miliband needs to get on with publishing the long list of contacts between himself and executives on News Corporation and News International, he also needs to consider if he should continue employing former Times man Tom Baldwin. Cameron scored his best shots by reminding the House that the priority now is to clean up the mess and revarnish the reputation of British journalism (for surely the phone hacking scandal can not be exclusive to News International), and to weed out those corrupt police officers who have been allegedly prepared to take bribes in return for information. He was adamant that the police investigation and the judicial enquiry must be allowed to go wherever the evidence leads them.

Miliband may think his summer holiday will be a cool breeze but he needs to ensure that Labour’s time in The Sun doesn’t leave him with nasty burn marks, whilst Prime Minister Cameron will head off to the coast still in a sweat, but with a dark cloud continuing to hang over him.

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Call Tom Watson to the Select Committee too.

with 6 comments

Was the Security Service involved in the hacking scandal?

As the story about Rupert Murdoch’s News International continues to evolve with more resignations and revelations one small written piece in Iain Dale’s latest platform seems to have evaded Fleet Street (for now) and it involves Gordon Brown’s lieutenant Tom Watson with his cleverly worded question to the Prime Minister earlier in the week. Former Tribune editor Mark Seddon writes:

So when earlier in the week, Watson asked the Prime Minister if the terms of the Inquiry into the Press would also include “rogue elements in the security services”, my ears pricked up. I have been wondering for some time how this level of serial criminality, this bugging and hacking from the Windsors to the Dowlers had seeming failed to register with our rather expensive intelligence services in MI5 and MI6. It seemed astonishing to me for instance that an officer in the Royal Protection Squad could happily flog private Royal contacts without anyone knowing. It also seemed surprising that no one seemed to know of the repeated attempts to access intensely private information on Gordon Brown. Some 4,000 people – probably far more – had their phones hacked, and no one knew what was going over in MI5?

So, apart from asking the Murdochs, Rebekah Brooks, Andy Coulson, various other journalists et al, perhaps the Commons Select Committee for Culture Media and Sport ought to request that Tom Watson appears before them next week. It would seem that he may have important information to share with them. If it is possible that members of MI5 or MI6 had helped journalists in their search for information to get a story at any cost then surely if it were proven, News International and News Corporation could not possibly pass any test that verifies them as a fit and proper organisation to hold a broadcast licence either here or abroad! They certainly ought not to be though of as fit and proper to take over BSkyB at any time in the future, irrespective of all the apologies offered this weekend.

If the Select Committee and the Judicial Enquiry find that this organisation has wormed its way into both the police forces of the UK and its Security Services, along with using its influence to manipulate politicians of all parties, then I’m pretty sure that public opprobrium would be so intense that shareholders might move to break up the company.

Although many will see Tom Watson’s moves as little more than “the revenge of Brown”, ultimately he may have done his country a great service.

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Written by curly

July 17, 2011 at 10:20 am

Neighbourhood police chat

with one comment

Chat online with South Shields police.

If you have any concerns about local crime, policing, or are just seeking reassurance then if you live in the following areas of South Shields you can join in an online chat with Neighbourhood Inspector Peter Sutton on Wednesday night between 6:00 pm and 8:00 pm. click here for further details.

The online session makes use of the “Cover It Live” facility which is extremely easy to use, just type in your comments or questions in the box at the foot of the chat facility, press enter and watch Peter Sutton’s responses appear in the main box above, nothing could be simpler.

The session covers Riverside, West Shields and Mid Shields including the town centre, Beacon and Bents, Simonside, Rekendyke, West Park, Westoe, Biddick Hall, All Saints and Whiteleas and Parkway.

This is a good simple approach which keeps South Shields police in touch with residents of the town and fosters strong links, please give it a go!

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Written by curly

July 11, 2011 at 5:10 pm