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Cheers - AE

Wednesday, 9 February 2011

Blair's heirs? I should bloody coco.

The iniquitous thing about ASBOs was the fact that they were used to criminalise behaviour which was annoying but not actually illegal, and since ASBOs are tailored to each annoying individual the results are uneven. So for example, it would never be illegal for people to go into a particular town centre but it could become illegal for someone with an ASBO, and there's no law against noisy sex unless you are the couple who got an ASBO stopping them from having noisy sex anywhere in the UK. Now I'm not saying I'm a fan of such people - I'm inclined to believe most of them are probably platinum plated arseholes and I'm sure living next door to the noisy sex woman would drive me round the bend. But ASBOs do do something rather sinister when they change the principle that we're all equal before the law into 'well, depends who you are', and really who would be hurt if someone has an ASBO for being a screamer lets loose in some remote cottage where nobody can hear them at it?*

Fortunately the sensible, just, fair minded and freedom loving Cobbleition government are going to do away with the whole scheme, just as ID cards were swept away. So in the future when some yobs are being a pain in the arse but the police and CPS can't or won't arrest them (as the locals probably would wish) the offenders will no longer be sent before the beaks to be told that for a set period of time they can't go into this town or that shopping centre or the other park or whatever. Oh, no. Nonononono. What will happen in the shining future brought to us by the kindly Cobbleition government is that the police will have the power to do that instead. Oh, and also the power to confiscate any nice, shiny consumer electronics they might have if they don't play ball.

The government is scrapping controversial anti-social behaviour orders and replacing them with new measures that will give the police power to ban troublemakers from town centres and street corners for up to two years.
Anyone breaching the new "criminal behaviour orders" will face having their assets seized in the same manner as major criminals.
Possessions particularly prized by youths - such as electronic gadgets and stereo systems - are likely to be targeted.
Fuck me, the grinning mutation must be kicking himself for not thinking of that when he was in charge. Why leave this sort of thing up to a court that might get it wrong when you can simply get the Home Orifice to tell it's pet private company ACPO what it wants, which in turn will pass the orders downwards to the appropriate level? Summary justice, ladies and gents. You've got to fucking love it, because they might have your iPhone off you if you don't. Now I do realise that something like summary justice once operated even at the local bobby level, who might have said to some annoying kid something like, "If I see you kicking up around here for the rest of the summer holidays I'll nick you." Summary justice? Well, yeah, but at a very local level, probably with community support, and at the end of the day the bobby would still have needed to point to a genuine offence that had really been committed to make good on the threat anyway. This proposal seems to go a beyond that.
Police will be given discretion to deal with incidents instantly, such as forcing culprits to make an immediate amends, instead of taking more formal action through the courts.
Yeah, well, the right to a trial by a jury of one's peers was overrated anyway, wasn't it? Soooooo last century.
It could see those who prey on local communities repairing whatever damage they have caused, such as cleaning graffiti or fixing a damaged fence, or some form of pay back to the neighbourhood as a whole, such as picking up rubbish or washing a patrol car.
And of course we can be absolutely certain that this will not be abused, and that no councils or police divisions will be making their budgets go further by rounding up misbehaving local chavs, dragging them to the police station and issuing them with a broom and bin bag or a bucket and chamois. Because that sort of thing just doesn't happen, does it? Well, apart from minor stuff such as the widespread council abuse of RIPA and the incessant police harassment of innocent photographers (do click the link - that battle's not over by the sounds of things). But other than that sort of thing, yeah, abuse of power simply never happens in Britain.
It is part of the Coalition's pledge to restore "common sense" policing to the streets.
A Whitehall source said it was about being "practical and restorative" but also had to be "meaningful" and, where appropriate, with the consent of the victim.
I don't have a problem with common sense policing. Christ, Britain desperately needs a return to common sense policing. I'm just not sure this qualifies as common sense so much as a step further into the realms of a police state. Where are the checks and balances to ensure this isn't turned against the citizens its supposed to protect? And on a very practical matter, why does it so often seem it too hard simply to arrest the fuckers these days? If someone smashes up your fence do you want them to be arrested for criminal damage, tried and ordered to pay damages (attached at source if necessary). Or do you want them made to do what is probably going to be a very slapdash repair job on it? Or, as seems equally possible, do you want someone who might have been involved detailing the local superintendent's fucking car?
However, while the Anti-social Behaviour Order will be binned, police and local authorities will still be able to apply for a type of court order to deal with low level nuisance.
They will be called "criminal behaviour orders" and will target specific activities, such as someone who is convicted of being drunk and disorderly being banned from a town centre for two years.
The move could leave the Government open to accusations that it is simply an Asbo by a different name just days after they faced similar claims over the replacement for control orders, where subjects still face a form of curfew and other restrictions.
Perhaps that's because they clearly are fucking ASBOs by another fucking name. Still, never mind. It's not like ASBOs were ever abused either, is it. Unless you count applying for one without even making a cursory fucking check to see if there was any substance to the allegations.

And then we come to the confiscation part.
Anyone breaching the new "criminal behaviour orders" will face having their assets seized in the same manner as major criminals.
Yes, and of course the whole asset seizure thing has also gone absolutely swimmingly, hasn't it? Shall we ask the Asset Recovery Agency how it's going? Oh, we can't because after it cost eight times as much to fucking run as it recovered it ended up being scrapped and stuffed into New Labour's latest crack at having a British version of the FBI, the Serious Organised Crime Agency.

And who are these "major criminals" whose assets have been seized in the same way those with ASBOs sorry, Criminal Behaviour Orders will?** I'm glad you asked. Some of them are fishermen who've falsified their quotas:
In December 2007 the two McBrides appeared in Liverpool Crown Court, having pleaded guilty earlier in the year to misidentifying catches of fish for which they had no quota under EU rules. But instead of just asking for fines to be imposed on fishermen who break quota rules, the Marine Fisheries Agency (MFA) now has a new tactic. It calls in the Serious Organised Crime Agency (Soca) to use the Proceeds of Crime Act, designed to recover money from international drugs traffickers, money launderers and other major criminals.
Soca – which last year replaced the Assets Recovery Agency, after it had spent £65 million to recover £23 million – assumes that if someone has benefited from the proceeds of crime for more than six months, he is living "a criminal lifestyle". Everything he owns can then be deemed to have derived from criminal activity.
In the case of Charlie and Charles McBride, all their assets were thus valued at more than £1 million, including their boat and homes (valued at the height of the property boom). On this basis Judge Nigel Gilmour not only imposed on them fines of £385,000 – infinitely more than the value of the fish they had wrongly declared – but ruled that all their assets should be frozen as "proceeds of crime", even though the home and boat had been bought before the offences were committed. He also told the men that, unless they paid the fines within six months, they would go to prison for up to three years.
At their wits' end as to how to raise the money, the two McBrides negotiated a second mortgage on their homes. Charlie McBride presented Soca with £120,000, asking that it should be taken as a down-payment on the fine until he had somehow found the rest. The agency asked how he had come by the money and, when told that it came from remortgaging his house, told him that he would be charged with contempt of court because the house was a "frozen asset".
And jailed he was. But it's not just fishermen the Proceeds of Crime Act is used on. It's the families of fishermen too.
Three Thames fishermen were fined £317,000 for catching sole for which they had no quota. (Most of the UK sole quota had been given to foreign fishermen.)
In January the owners and skippers of six Newlyn boats were fined £188,000 for catching hake for which they had no quota (though hake were abundant). Among those fined were an 83-year-old widow, Doreen Hicks, and 82-year-old Donald Turtle and his wife Joan. They were found guilty by Judge Wassell because they were part owners of boats skippered by their sons.
And then there are pharmacists and businessmen.
A pharmacist convicted of making false prescription claims and unlawfully obtaining £464 was subjected to a confiscation order for £212,000 because he was presumed to be a career criminal. The Court of Appeal quashed the order last year as an abuse of process but a judgment in another case since then has said that it is not for the courts to amend laws passed by Parliament.

Another case highlights the potential unfairness of restraining a suspect’s assets. A businessman accused of VAT fraud wanted to commission a forensic accountant’s report which he believed would show he was innocent. He could not pay for one himself because his bank accounts had been frozen and he was denied Legal Aid. He was subsequently convicted.
And drug dealers too, though that doesn't always go smoothly.
A convicted drug dealer, however, was able to keep his £4.5 million fortune because he could not find a barrister to represent him for the £175 per day standard fee in a complex case. The man’s assets had been frozen and he could not pay for his own lawyers. He applied for legal aid but 30 barristers turned down the case because the fees were so low. The man represented himself and had the confiscation order set aside on the grounds that he could not get legal representation.
Yeah, so probably best to go for the low hanging fruit and stick to businessmen, pharmacists, trawler crews and their families, though with that being the type of person considered as a major criminal what the fuck can we expect to happen at the other end of the spectrum? Are we talking about actually taking things from actual people who've committed actual crimes and selling them to provide reparation to the victims? Because I didn't see that anywhere and it's not where the Proceeds of Crime Act seizures end up. So are we in fact talking about depriving lippy young wiggaz of their H. Samuel bling for putting their hats on backwards, riding their bicycles with the saddles low enough to bang their elbows with their knees and trying (unsuccessfully) to sound like Samuel L Jackson?*** I ask for two reasons: because experience with the "major criminals" suggests that easy targets might end up being prioritised, and because anything confiscated by the nastier lot may well have been stolen in the fucking first place, and if so they'll just get replacements for whatever is confiscated the same way. If that happens will someone finally arrest the fuckers or will they just be given another Criminal Behaviour Order.

And then there's the Pièce de Repugnance: a few months ago Home Secretary Teresa May described ASBOs as
“top down, bureaucratic and gimmick-laden.”
What the fuck, Theresa? And this isn't, you fucking hypocrite?

Yes, indeed. A policy the arch-twunt Blair would surely have been delighted to get his grinning face alongside, and wholly appropriate coming from a government lead by a man some see as his heir. It's top-down, it's bureaucratic, may be open to abuse, seems unlikely to be effective and, essentially for any New Labour policy, it's a complete fucking gimmick. And here's a Conservative Home Secretary from the Cobbleition government having to see it in.

Remind me again about that election thing last year? What was it fucking for?

* Which in turn brings up the side issue of enforcement and whether there's any point at all to an unenforceable law or rule and which has no victim. It's not even possible to know precisely how often it's broken.
** And which agencies of the state can do this and get the money? Practically fucking everybody.
*** There are few things in life as tragic as a young white kid acting like he's a young black man. Innit? Yo!
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