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Archive for the ‘Police’ Category

Olympic Torch arrives in South Shields

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Olympic Torch Relay, South Shields
Our moment to shine

I don’t know what compelled me to set the alarm for 06:30 this morning after a decent night of celebrating England’s win over Sweden in Euro 2012, it seemed a rather silly thing to do considering that I’ll be working until 10:30 pm this evening, but I’d promised “Missy” that I’d take her to see the Olympic Torch Relay as it reached South Shields. I was even more surprised that she managed to be out of bed and ready on time, most weekends she doesn’t surface until about 08:30 am. So we  passing the Town Hall in Westoe Road at just after 07:15 really surprised to see so many people already waiting in the rain – yes the incessant rain. I’d decided that anywhere between Crossgate and the back end of the Town Hall might be a bit busy, as well as the top end of Ocean Road, so I’d go for the South Marine Park opposite the Wouldhave memorial. My guess is that the area around the Leas and the Bamburgh would also be choc-a-bloc full as Haile Gebrselassie and Brendan Foster put in their appearances.

So whilst waiting in the rain I bumped into one of your Labour councillors also getting a good soaking, but already working hard for local charity Cancer Connections today, puts some of us to shame I thought.

There was a lot of hooha and fanfair about the event as Met. Police motorbike outriders drove down Ocean Road with all of their flashing blue lights, shaking hands with children as though it were a carnival, they were followed by the sponsors buses, the sounds of music and a DJ announcer as hawkers tried to sell Union Flags along the pavement, it occurred to me that there were far more policemen from the Met than there were sponsors, organisers, and torch bearers, just made me wonder how much money is being spent sending these lads around the UK as the “security bubble”. As two of the bearers made their relay swap one torch was ignited from the other before the preceding one was extinguished, I was asking just how many torches were made as each bearer ends up keeping the torch as a personal memento (or disposing of it on eBay at a mighty profit.) I’m guessing that there are an awful lot of used butane cylinders to dispose of too, or do they use a different fuel? Fuel, yes fuel, how much petrol and diesel is used during this relay?

Anyway, the event passed through South Shields on its way to Whitburn rather quickly and everyone seemed to enjoy it, especially the little children who had been dragged out of bed rather early on a weekend.It must have been a great occasion for those local torch bearers who had been chosen to carry the flame along our small part of the route, they’ll be proud, pleased as punch, and have stories to relate to their grandchildren.

There all sorts of mini events taking place along the sea front and beaches today to mark our part in this journey, all planned in the hope of glorious sunny warm weather…….oh well that’s one thing you can never guarantee.

Now I just need to force myself into getting excited about Greco-Roman wrestling, equestrianism, fencing, and archery.

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Written by curly

June 16, 2012 at 10:56 am

Riot narrative heading in wrong direction

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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

#LondonRiots

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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

“Rocky” Cameron rolls with the punches

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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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Neighbourhood police chat

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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

Wasting police time

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Copperfield has some interesting suggestions.

Stuart Davidson is a policeman in Alberta, Canada, he used to serve in the Staffordshire constabulary and is the author of a published book “Wasting Police Time” as well as the highly successful Policeman’s Blog, writing under the pseudonym David Copperfield. He had a very interesting article published in The Daily Telegraph over the weekend highlighting some radical suggestions to reduce the Home Office budget for policing and comparing Canadian crime fighting results to British efforts, he is adamant that police budgets could be reduced by as much as 40% and still see an improved performance.

My experience tells me that you could easily slash billions from budgets and actually improve policing, which is now a job creation scheme for bureaucrats.

They could lose 40 per cent of their budget and still have more cash per capita than we do.

Of course, how you spend money is important. GMP employs 8,232 police officers in a total staff of 13,082, or one person for every 181 members of the public. My force employs about 1,400 officers and 500 civilians – one person for every 526 members of the public.

So with less money and far fewer cops, we do a better job, and there are lessons that can be learnt by British officers and their political masters.

I encourage you to read the full article and to decide if there is sufficient food for thought, and whether or not a similar model could be applied to other sectors of public service.

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Written by curly

July 26, 2010 at 6:47 pm

No sympathy for Moat

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PC David RathbandCase brought out best and worst in people

This is a picture of PC David Rathband, the policeman shot at almost point blank range by Raoul Moat as he sat in his police car in Newcastle, I make no apologies for including it here. PC Rathband was quite sure he was going to die and asked paramedics to tell his wife and small children that he loved them very much, let us remember now that he was a family man like many others of us in the north-east, he was only doing his job, a job which serves the public and carries, at times, enormous risks. Moat cared not a jot for PC Rathband or his family, just as he neglected any feelings at all for his former girlfriend Samantha Stobbart when he blasted her with a shotgun,  nor her new boyfriend Chris Brown who he shot dead with two cartridges in a callous deliberate act of murder.

Along with many others in South Shields I watched events play themselves out in Rothbury last Friday evening in a very public stand off covered by television news channels hoping that Moat might see the sense in giving up his weapon and delivering himself to the police, but alas events took a different turn, in a way that some had predicted when the felon discharged the weapon at his own head.

The whole episode since his release from prison saw variously the best and the worst in people from the north east and the sections of the media reporting the news, which amplified some of the tensions already existing between the public and the police. It was the actions of neighbourly well spirited people which gave the police the leads that they needed to track Moat down from Vigo to Rothbury, and it was the responsible journalists who responded correctly to Northumbria Police requests when they needed news blackouts and when they needed additional publicity to generate public cooperation. These actions undoubtedly resulted in fewer people being exposed to Moats fragile state of mind whilst in possession of a deadly firearm.

However, his boastful remarks of being in a war against the police have brought out the worst in others, allowing them to express themselves by leaving flowers at the scene of his death and at the scene of his other alleged crimes, the setting up of a Facebook “sympathy” page has also allowed these deluded people to gather together to create a rather silly looking image for people from the north east. It is no surprise that Prime Minister David Cameron has criticised these moves and proclaimed that there can be “no sympathy” for the callous murderer Moat.  Personally, although I find there is some merit in Simon Heffer’s arguments yesterday, I find the “sympathy for Moat movement” to be demeaning for the people of the north east, embarrassing to witness, and likely to provide the rest of the UK with the stereotypical imaging that they like to use to portray us as “thick northerners” – and nothing could be further from the truth!

Heffer’s somewhat misogynistic views don’t help his case, neither does his description of the folk of Rothbury as being “morally sub normal” (someone needs to educate him that Moat and his small band of followers are almost without exception resident many miles away from Rothbury, and the majority of folks interviewed in the town last Friday were clearly not originally from this region), however certain passages ring true and describe better the life of Moat the monster than the anti hero, especially when recalling the thoughts of another ex girlfriend:

Moat, according to her, engaged in acts that many men and women would not want to include in their domestic lives. He raped her. He would tie her up and flog her with a belt. He throttled her until she fainted. He hit her on her spine with a baseball bat. He kneed her in the face. She described him as “a living, breathing monster”. I for one would not seek to disagree with her.

Come on folks, do you really want to belittle this region by sympathising with someone who behaves like this?

Heffer touches on a note of dissatisfaction with our police forces and he may have a very salient point after the thirteen wasted years when greater and greater volumes of legislation have been dumped upon the heads of Chief Constables, who somehow have to manage their men and women in the prosecution of laws, many of which are more difficult to understand. The pressure built during the Blair and Brown years when public services became target driven led to a different type of police force than we were earlier used to, as they became more remote and too many beat officers were tied up behind desks completing mountains of forms and paperwork, by the end of the NuLabour regime Neighbourhood policing had become a “buzzword” in some forces, and in others this community aspect was carried out by volunteer uniformed “replacements”.

The police are good at mobilising themselves for murderers, rapists, abductors of children and possibly armed robbers. They are exceptionally good, too, at catching people who commit minor motoring offences. For the vast mass of crime in the middle – theft, burglary, mugging, flouting of the drugs laws and so on – they are utterly useless. Their role extends little beyond supplying a crime number to a victim so that a claim may be made on the victim’s insurance. That part of the operation might as well be privatised and sold to Lloyd’s. It is much easier to sit in a layby and catch someone driving over the speed limit than it is to retrieve the precious possessions of a family that has been burgled, so why try? That is how the public see the police, and it won’t do.

There is much to acknowledged there, and Heffer may well have caught the public mood, perceptions are often worth more than the realities, yet the reality is that our police forces have been driven off course by the battering of new legislation and target achieving, they no longer have the time or will to build rapport and community cohesion and have been weakened by top down pressures that have resulted in better figures but poorer reputations. Cameron and May have decided that there needs to be a bonfire of vanities in respect of some of the laws passed by NuLabour, something which is long overdue but will play but a small part in the rebuilding of trust between the police and the public, a trust that can only flourish with fewer simpler to understand laws which allow police men and women to get out of stations and into communities.

Perhaps then, all together, we can begin to relearn some common values of what is right and what is wrong and help each other to become “self policing” in a manner than does not require much more than common sense and common purpose. The Home Secretary and the Prime Minister along with Nick Clegg and his websites, face a huge challenge in finding those common moral values, as a quick read through the comments to Heffer’s article reaffirms that incidents such as this really have brought out the best and worst of people.

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