My Lords, it came as no surprise to me that there was nothing to delight my soul in the Government’s programme. For example, a fair justice system that keeps people safe takes more than a royal commission; it takes resources. When budgets have been cut by one-third, the system does not function well and justice suffers. I hope that the royal commission will examine the impact of austerity on fairness and access to justice. I also question any attempt to impose longer sentences when we are failing to deal with the care and rehabilitation of the large number of people already in the system. The probation service and the Prison Service are unable to cope properly with the existing numbers. If you add to that number, you are adding to those pressures and problems. Continue reading “Queen Speech: my response to the crime and justice sections”
This is an historic win because for the first time we’ve challenged the police on overstepping their powers and we’ve won. It’s great.
This shows how the police have gone beyond their powers when dealing with peaceful environmental protests, There is a pattern in recent years of the police being under pressure from the government to help impose fracking on communities that don’t want it and to stop the highly successful Extinction Rebellion from raising the issue of climate change. Government Ministers were very vocal in wanting the police to clamp down on Extinction Rebellion’s October protests, after the summer protests led to Parliament passing a motion declaring a climate emergency.
Extinction Rebellion’s application for Judicial Review has been scheduled for an urgent day-long hearing in the High Court on Thursday 24 October from 10.30am. Baroness Jenny Jones, Caroline Lucas MP, Clive Lewis MP, David Drew MP, Ellie Chowns MEP, George Monbiot, and Adam Allnut are bringing the action on behalf of Extinction Rebellion to challenge the police’s blanket ban on our protests across the whole of London for the remainder of the week. Continue reading “Court date 24th October – Extinction rebellion ban”
If you are a pedestrian who gets killed or suffers serious life changing injuries as a result of being hit by a car, there is more than a one in ten chance that the driver will fail to stop. One of the reasons our roads have become so lawless is the lack of resources put into police investigation and enforcement of road crimes.
Latest figures from RoadPeace (the charity for victims of road crime) shows that the number of traffic police outside London has been nearly cut in half since austerity started in 2010. London remains exceptional due to additional funding from Transport for London which began during my time as Ken Livingstone’s Road Safety Ambassador. London remains far from perfect, but Greens have made a small difference.
A RoadPeace report in 2016 found that cuts to traffic police resulted in declining levels of enforcement and prosecution of crimes like drink driving, driving without a licence and a failure to stop. Whilst there had been more camera-based enforcement of speeding, any prosecution involving an actual officer on the road had gone down.
The latest figures from 2017 show that hit and runs involving a death or injury are just over 40 a day. I believe that there should be an automatic life time driving ban for anyone failing to stop when someone has been injured as the result of a road collision and will be lobbying the Government on this.
Total casaulties hit and runs 14,571 in 2017, which is around 40 a day
Total Pedestrian KSIs 6628 in 2017, of which 829 were hit and runs. 12.5%
I talk to Neil Woods, one of Britain’s most successful (ex) undercover police officers.
Neil’s personal experience as one of Britain’s most successful undercover officers deserves our respect and attention; he has played a key role in putting away numerous dealers for a collective total of over a 1,000 years. He survived the grave personal toll that brave officers can suffer in their losing fight against drugs gangs.
Having a knife to your throat, or being stripped naked at gunpoint can take a personal toll on the undercover officers who have tried to fight a war on drugs that can’t be won. Neil suffers from Post-Traumatic Street Disorder. Year after year the trade becomes more violent, as the police are more successful. The drugs war is an arms race. Police develop new tactics and drug gangs push back. Neil realised that the escalation by the gangs was a reaction to his work as an effective police officer.
County lines is the latest reaction by the gangs to that success. Use of children is another innovation – a result of police success. Not so easy for police to infiltrate using established means. Gangs see the children as very disposable. That is why some of the police want to increase the use of juveniles as police informants – child spies. Exposing this has been one of my big campaigns and is now the subject of legal action by a children’s charity.
Two things changed Neil’s personal view of the war on drugs. He got to know drug addicts and started to understand the traumas (often childhood abuse or neglect) that turned them towards drugs. He also realised that it was a war the police can’t win, despite all their success. In fact, the successes made things worse in the longer term.
Police now talk about ‘disruption’ not reduction. A stable market is less violent. Police often gather the low hanging fruit of dealers on streets, which thins it out, makes easier to create monopolies.
Drugs money has caused escalating violence on the streets and supports other forms of crime. It also provides the resources to finance endemic corruption within the authorities. Neil talks about how his instincts saved him from being betrayed by a fellow officer who had been planted into the police by a powerful gang.
Since prohibition started, the banned drugs have become stronger and cheaper. Neil had to take drugs on occasion as part of his cover. One packet “smelt like urine from a glue sniffing cat”. Legislation from the 1980s onwards has moved away from harm reduction towards a moralising agenda of criminality.
It’s no coincidence that Brixton Riots happened ten years after Misuse of Drugs Act. The police were given a war chest of powers that government Ministers expected them to use. Persecution of black people was driven by drug policy and a clamp down on cannabis. 90% of stop and search has been for drugs.
The police have been lumbered with this war on drugs. It’s a huge drain on resources. For example, it’s a big impact on murder detection rate since declaration of the war on drugs. Despite scientific and forensic advances, the murder clear-up rate is down.
Society is paying a big cost for the war on drugs. People in prison cost money. Authorities are damaged by the corruption of drugs money.
The way to win the War on drugs is to stop fighting. Regulate them. Treat each drug differently, so for example with Heroin you go to the doctor.
A recent survey shows that 59% of people want to decriminalise or regulate cannabis use. That shows how public understanding is running ahead of the politicians from the two main parties. A big change is urgently needed.
For democracy to work fairly and effectively, all campaigners and parties must operate on a level playing field; no one can be above the rule of law. Whichever way we voted in the referendum, we should all agree that wrong doing needs to be dealt with.
That is why I have joined with other concerned politicians and ex-politicians, Tom Brake MP, Ben Bradshaw MP and Fiona Mactaggart who believe in accountability and that is why we are asking for your support in our legal action. Continue reading “Crowdfunder: referendum law breakers”
Thank you for your positive response to my Oral Question on 18th March when I raised the issue of juveniles being used as Covert Human Intelligence Sources. As I mentioned during my question, I have information provided by a whistle-blower that there appear to be formal targets being set for regions to increase the use of juvenile CHIS to help in the tackling of county lines’ drug gangs. Continue reading “Letter to Minister about systematic use of child spies”
Today around 3pm I’ll be raising the issue of freedom to protest with questions to the Government in the House of Lords about the Court of Appeal’s striking out an injunction obtained by INEOS in a secret court. The successful appeal was brought by two individuals and Friends of the Earth, representing an enormous victory for the right to protest. It will hopefully pave the way for more successful appeals by peaceful protestors who have had their human rights restricted by the frackers and other environmental vandals. Continue reading “Question to Minister on protecting the right to protest”
I have asked the government to investigate a claim by a whistle-blower that the police are setting targets for regional police services to increase the use of juveniles as Covert Human Intelligence Sources (CHIS) as part of their efforts to combat county lines drug gangs. The whistle-blower approached my office with the information, but I can not verify the claim and have asked the Minister in the Lords to find out if this is happening. Continue reading “Minister agrees to examine police whistle-blower claim on child spies”