Friday, June 18, 2010
What kind of cop can't cope with being called Daisy?
PC Barbara Lynford has been off work with stress for five long years. five not-so-happy birthdays, five springs sprung, five winters of discontent - for Barbara they have rolled by like gutter balls in the bowling alley of life.
The world has moved on for others, but for her it stood still. Caught in the shivering aspic of her traumatic circumstances, she can't move on. With a stalled career, she now needs closure - not to mention recompense.
The sole female firearms officer at Gatwick airport has yet to come to terms with the nervous strain she has suffered, caused by... well, what exactly?
Good question. A terrorist outrage that happened on her watch? An orphanage coach raked with a madman's machine gun fire while she was powerless to help? Or - let me see - none of the above? Got it in one.
PC Lynford is the officer who has just won £575,000 in an industrial tribunal case against her employers, the Sussex Police authority. The basis of the complaint is that she was subjected to a year-long campaign of sexual discrimination by her 13 male colleagues.
What did the creeps do? Well, for a start, they called her nicknames such as 'Daisy', 'Lipstick' and 'Whoopsy'. The utter b*****ds.
During one meeting, a male firearms instructor said: 'Come and sit at the front. I promise not to look at your chest.' Frankly, hanging is too good for him. added to this, PC Lynford had to endure the topless pictures of women that the officers kept in their station.
Cue nervous collapse. The tribunal was told the male officers would radio each other while on patrol to point out attractive women. They faked anti-terrorism patrol reports, slept on duty, left their guns unattended and ran a forfeit system where they had to buy each other doughnuts as a penalty for leaving weapons lying around.
In short, they make Chief Wiggum - the useless, bun-munching cop in The Simpsons cartoons - look like Dirty Harry.
This is not the kind of vigilant policing that makes us sleep easier in our beds at night. and for the female officer none of this was pleasant or warranted. In fact, it was awful, juvenile and pathetic. after all, it is 2010. no woman today should be expected to put up with constant remarks about her breasts. Brothers and sisters, as Harriet Harman would say, it is simply not acceptable.
But may I timidly suggest, in light of Lynford's six-figure payout, that worse things happen at sea. and in Helmand province. Not to mention in most playgrounds in the country, every school day.
Many have unfavourably compared PC Lynford's pay out for her hurt feelings to the far lesser sums given to soldiers who lose limbs in conflicts or to those who were injured in the 7/7 bombings.
In contrast, the scale of her pay out is preposterous. If Barbara could not tolerate being called names - and I thought them patronising but affectionate, rather than downright spiteful - how would she cope with the bomb-throwing nutter at Gate 18?
Yet PC Lynford was no pushover. For years she had dealt with the canteen culture that comes with the territory. What she was subjected to went beyond that, but she joined the British police force, not an embroidery collective.
Our constabulary are doing their best to change, but they have been slow to fully embrace a culture of equality. PC Lynford must have been prepared for that, but she successfully claimed she was forced out of her job by sexual discrimination and the £35,000-a-year officer was given a £275,000 lump sum.
She is due to receive a further payment of £300,000 later this year if she remains signed off with stress, as looks likely. yet it is an award which seems out of all proportion to the hurt caused. The amount is an affront, particularly as it comes out of the public purse and does not punish the culprits.
Could it be more depressing? Lynford alleges that manning our borders, at the frontline of terrorism and illegal immigration, are a bunch of doughnut-munching dumbos slobbering over soft porn and sniggering about girls' chests.
Can it be true? I weigh this depiction of the Gatwick police against a wish to portray them in the worst possible light. and the fact that Sussex Police have seen no evidence or need to discipline them.
Something clearly went wrong for PC Lynford, but it did not warrant the lottery result she got. The £575,000 is not just an insult to the police, but also to the public who will foot the bill. Surely the time has come to put a cap on the limits awarded at tribunals?
If people need to be compensated for their hurt and insult, let's make it related to their income instead of plucking random figures from the ether. Perhaps, say, a year's pay, which would give them a breather - an opportunity to recover before getting back to work.
But giving offended workers the opportunity to retire on the basis of petty insults is not right. neither is a system in which those with a grievance are encouraged to keep a diary of every perceived slight, which seems to be all the documentary evidence needed to prove a case in court.
It is all becoming too ridiculous. PC Barbara Lynford said she felt ill when she went to work. Well, we're all feeling sick as parrots now.
Dozens of CCTV cameras which 'targeted Muslims' mothballed after civil liberties complaints
Must not watch Muslims? Given the attacks by Muslims on British targets, watching them seems the least that the authorities can do
Civil liberties campaigners claimed a major victory yesterday when a CCTV camera 'Ring of Steel' around a largely Muslim area was mothballed. More than 200 cameras - including dozens of secret units hidden from public view - were due to be switched on within days to allow tracking of pedestrian and traffic movement in and out of two districts of Birmingham.
But there was outrage after it emerged the £3million project was being paid for from a national counter-terrorism grant. Critics said the scheme was further evidence of the shocking extent of Britain's 'Surveillance State' and was unfairly targeting Muslims.
Yesterday council leaders and police apologised for failing to inform some councillors both of details of the plans and its funding source. But astonishingly they said wanted to go ahead with the scheme, in Sparkbrook and Washwood Heath, regardless, claiming it would help to cut crime and anti-social behaviour.
Plastic bags will be placed over cameras that can be seen from the street to prove they are not in use, and 'covert' units will not be switched on while the public are asked whether they want it scrapped.
Councillor Salma Yaqoob accused officials of being deliberately 'sneaky' and demanded to know the locations of all the hidden cameras. 'In terms of reassurance it's going to take a lot more than plastic bags,' she said. 'The residents have lost faith with the authorities for their sneaky handling of the way they went about this and will not be reassured until they have been told the locations of the hidden cameras too.'
Corinna Ferguson, legal officer of human rights group Liberty said: 'Belated consultation of the communities targeted by Project Champion will give local people a much needed platform to voice their absolute rejection of this discriminatory scheme. 'Putting bags over cameras will not conceal the project’s true agenda, and Liberty will continue to pursue the protection of residents’ privacy under the Human Rights Act.'
Under the scheme, known as 'Project Champion', a network of 218 cameras was installed that ensured no vehicle could leave the areas without being photographed. Of the total 49 are standard CCTV units and 169 are Automatic Numberplate Recognition (ANPR) cameras that take a photograph of every car's registration details as it goes past. Around 70 covert cameras were hidden in trees or walls by the side of the road.
Funding came from the Home Office's Terrorism and Allied Matters (TAM) fund, which is administered by the Association of Chief Police Officers. Early police authority discussions about the project were held in secret and councillors said organisers barely mentioned counter-terrorism as a reason for it, despite the source of funding.
Had all the cameras been switched on, it would have made the area among the most watched in the country. By contrast, Birmingham City Centre has just 50 cameras.
Dylan Sharpe, campaign director of Big Brother Watch, said the money would have been better spent on putting policemen on the streets. 'This fiasco is sadly representative of Britain’s surveillance state,' he said. 'The authorities in Birmingham have placed an enormous number of cameras in a very small area, failed to ask local councillors and residents if they actually wanted this surveillance, and wasted £3 million of taxpayers' money in the process. 'If this initiative was about fighting crime, that £3 million could have been better invested putting policemen on the streets.'
Ministers have pledged to properly regulate CCTV cameras to protect against abuse. A Home Office spokesman said: 'Work is already underway on CCTV regulation and the government will be bringing forward proposals as soon as possible.'
New British government bans radical Muslim preacher from entering UK
A radical preacher who claimed that “every Muslim should be a terrorist” has been banned from coming to Britain. In her first major test of being tough on extremism, Theresa May, the new Home Secretary, said she was banning Zakir Naik from entering the UK.
Dr Naik, a 44-year-old Indian televangelist, had been due to give a series of lectures at arenas in Wembley Arena and Sheffield.
The Home Secretary can exclude or deport an individual if she thinks that their presence in the UK is not conducive to the public good.
There had been speculation that Dr Zaik would be allowed into the UK. However Mrs May said she was excluding him because of the “numerous comments” he made were evidence of his “unacceptable behaviour”. This behaviour applies to anyone who writes or publishes material which can “foment justify or glorify terrorist violence” or “seek to provoke others to terrorist acts”.
Mrs May told The Daily Telegraph: “I have excluded Dr Naik from the UK. Numerous comments made by Dr Naik are evidence to me of his unacceptable behaviour. “Coming to the UK is a privilege not a right and I am not wiling to allow those who might not be conducive to the public good to enter the UK. “Exclusion powers are very serious and no decision is taken lightly or as a method of stopping open debate on issues.”
Home Office sources said Dr Naik had been filmed on a website making inflammatory comments such as “every Muslim should be a terrorist”. He said: “When a robber sees a policeman he’s terrified. So for a robber, a policeman is a terrorist. So in this context, every Muslim should be a terrorist to the robber.”
He has also been filmed saying: “There are many Jews who are good to Muslims, but as a whole … The Koran tells us, as a whole, they will be our staunchest enemy.”
In a web posting from 2006 he said: “Beware of Muslims saying Osama Bin Laden is right or wrong. I reject them … we don’t know. “But if you ask my view, if given the truth, if he is fighting the enemies of Islam, I am for him. I don’t know what he’s doing. I’m not in touch with him. I don’t know him personally. I read the newspaper. “If he is terrorising the terrorists, if he is terrorising America the terrorist, the biggest terrorist, every Muslim should be a terrorist.”
He is also reported to have said suggested that western women make themselves “more susceptible to rape” by wearing revealing clothing. He reportedly said: “Western society has actually degraded [women] to the status of concubines, mistresses and social butterflies, who are mere tools in the hands of pleasure seekers and sex marketeers”
Last night Patrick Mercer MP, the former chairman of the Commons counter-terrorism committee, said: “This is really good news. It shows that firm Government action can be taken against people. "This is exactly the sort of man who we want to exclude from this country.”
Dr Naik has been named as the third most popular spiritual guru in India and was judged in 2009 to be 82nd in a list of India’s most powerful people.
The latest threat to free speech and individual liberty in Australia
Internet freedom in 2010 looks like 1984
Long story short, the Rudd government is crafting an Orwellian scheme that may well require Australian ISPs to log and retain details of all your online communications and Web browsing activity. The Attorney-General Robert McClelland – not one of the brightest stars in the firmament of federal cabinet – denied this week that "browsing histories would be stored", saying the government was only seeking to identify "parties to a communication", such as senders and receivers of emails and VoIP calls.
Even this limited scheme would be considered by most Australians to be entirely unacceptable, but because the government has imposed secrecy provisions on all the parties with which it is negotiating in this matter, the process remains completely opaque and we are being asked to agree to the imposition of a generalised surveillance regime with nothing but the vaguest reassurances about its scope, intent and the potential hazards of abuse, misuse, maladministration and outright oppression. (Well, actually, we're not being asked at all. It's just happening).
There is an excellent article by Fairfax's tech writer Asher Moses here, which you should read.
It makes clear the very real fears of the real people in the real telecommunications sector that something quite profoundly wrong and loathsome is being planned. It is a scheme on par with any number of other Rudd government initiatives - obsessed with image management and controlling activities over which it should rightly have no control.
It is more serious by an order of magnitude than Conroy's amateur hour efforts with the net filter and arguably more aggressive in its collection activities than the huge, but little known datamatching programs which run, day in, day out, without most people's knowledge.
Indeed, today's revelation that Rudd intends to link the information gathered from monitoring your internet activities to identifiers such as your passport number open up the real possibility of mashing together all of the personal information available in your data matching matrix to (your income, your tax history, you bank account details, your medical records for starters) to your online life - your tweets, your Facebook account, your email, your Chatroueltte history, your 4square tracking data, your blog entries, the link you clicked not realising it was taking you to a snuff porn site, the link you clicked knowing it was taking you to a celebrity porn site, the comments you leave here today, all of it.
That's why today's column is written without jokes or even sarcasm.
Political correctness is most pervasive in universities and colleges but I rarely report the incidents concerned here as I have a separate blog for educational matters.
American "liberals" often deny being Leftists and say that they are very different from the Communist rulers of other countries. The only real difference, however, is how much power they have. In America, their power is limited by democracy. To see what they WOULD be like with more power, look at where they ARE already very powerful: in America's educational system -- particularly in the universities and colleges. They show there the same respect for free-speech and political diversity that Stalin did: None. So look to the colleges to see what the whole country would be like if "liberals" had their way. It would be a dictatorship.
For more postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, GREENIE WATCH, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, GUN WATCH, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, DISSECTING LEFTISM, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL and EYE ON BRITAIN (Note that EYE ON BRITAIN has regular posts on the reality of socialized medicine). My Home Pages are here or here or here or Email me (John Ray) here. For readers in China or for times when blogger.com is playing up, there is a mirror of this site here.