This is how anti-terror laws get used


by Sunny
24th July, 2008 at 5:17 am    

From the BBC:

A police force has apologised after a disabled child and his parents claimed they were detained at a Channel crossing point under the Terrorism Act. Julie Maynard, of Ware, Hertfordshire, was taking a day trip to Calais through the Channel Tunnel in Folkestone, Kent.

The detective constable accused Ms Maynard and her husband Leslie Coombs of trafficking her son Joshua, 12. Kent Police apologised and described the incident as inappropriate, unprofessional and lacking in tact.

They’ll detain you for whatever you want and you better like it buster! via Dib Lemming.


              Post to del.icio.us


Filed in: Civil liberties,Terrorism






46 Comments below   |  

Reactions: Twitter, blogs
  1. Wade Zahadoom

    K @unambig think,anti-liberty laws R for only non-whites
    http://bit.ly/9vQ9XT
    http://bit.ly/bnNZ4o
    http://bit.ly/cV2IxK
    http://bit.ly/amFRIq




  1. Boyo — on 24th July, 2008 at 7:32 am  

    Proof! It’s all a fascist plot!

  2. ashik — on 24th July, 2008 at 8:25 am  

    The police were concerned about child trafficking across international borders. Something that is unfortunately becoming more frequent with increasing globalisation. Better that this family were inconvenienced in their travel than a child, a most vulnerable member of society, be trafficked for whatever evil purpose.

    The officer should have been more sensitive in handling the situation but I personally think the police SHOULS be interested in preventing child trafficking, including use of all powers at their disposal.

  3. MaidMarian — on 24th July, 2008 at 8:30 am  

    Sunny – How many couples with children have passed through that port without any hitch?

    The police apologised fully, presumably you want blood?

  4. douglas clark — on 24th July, 2008 at 8:41 am  

    Boyo, ashik, MaidMarian,

    The assumption here is that existing laws against human trafficking are inadequate and that we need to take the gloves off in the fight against it.

    Which is a debate that we have not had. What you have is legislation that the Houses of Parliament passed within a specific context, terrorism, now being applied in situations which were unexamined when that legislation was approved.

    It is legislation creep.

    You ought to assume that a bureaucracy – in this case the Police – will attempt to apply legislation in circumstances it was not designed for, mainly because it extends their powers. And you three are all in favour!

    Bloody hell.

    The price of freedom is eternal vigilance, or some such, seems to have disappeared off your joint and several agendas.

  5. Roger — on 24th July, 2008 at 9:12 am  

    The “parents claimed they were detained… under the Terrorism Act.” As they were- very reasonably- annoyed and upset they may well be mistaken about the powers used to question them.
    That is a completely separate topic to whether the police were reasonable or behaved professionally. The extra powers given to the police under the Terrorism Act probably do affect their psychology so that police officers use- and misuse- powers they may have under other laws.

  6. MaidMarian — on 24th July, 2008 at 9:12 am  

    douglas clark (4) –

    I think that the underlying message there is that we need less legislation all round and that is a wheel I will certainly put my shoulder to.

    That said, the implication that there is a consistent and ongoing attempt demonstrated by the case mentioned in the article to apply terror legislation to every single family passing through that port is fanciful.

    The police described this themselves as, ‘inappropriate, unprofessional and lacking in tact.’ Had that quote been, ‘this officer’s actions were entirely legit, we back him/her to the hilt and all families passing through ports should be aware they are liable to this sort of thing,’ you might have a strong point.

    It is not clear from the article whether compensation is involved here and it would be interesting to know if an offer has been made.

    Vigilance is not the same thing as overweening cynicism or conspiracy theorising.

  7. Rumbold — on 24th July, 2008 at 9:49 am  

    This should be a lesson for everyone, but it won’t be. The next time a law is proposed the socialist-tabloid alliance will tell us that it will only be used for its ‘proper purpose’.

  8. douglas clark — on 24th July, 2008 at 10:00 am  

    MaidMarian,

    Apologies if you thought that I was building the ‘case against’ on a single example. That is not so.

    You may recall the Metropoliatan Police being accused of ‘draconian’ use of Prevention of Terrorism Powers ré protestors against an International Arms Fair in London in 2003.

    Or in 2008, Poole Council using anti-terrorism legislation in relation to an accusation that someone lied on an application form for a school placement.

    Or, the apparent right to stop and search photographers.

    Or, come to that the apparent right to stop and shoot Brazillians.

    These took me ten minutes to Google. It is not hard.

    Apart from the latter case, these are all relatively trivial. It is however wrongheaded to think that these are not tests of where the boundaries lie. We are on a ratchet towards mistakenly handing over authority from the citizen to the state by default.

    The lesson to be learned here is very simple. Try to figure it out for yourself.

  9. persephone — on 24th July, 2008 at 11:00 am  

    I remember being stopped and questioned when landing at Sydney airport after departing from the UK. The reason being that I only had hand luggage. I was wearing ‘western’ clothes, had a british passport with a 10 year business visa.

    Ok it was an inconvenience but I would rather the vigilance (and as with any job they will be overly cautious, make a wrong judgement call etc) as opposed to laxity wherein people lives are put in to danger.

  10. Hermes123 — on 24th July, 2008 at 11:04 am  

    Maybe if the European police had been that vigilent, they would have found Madeline McCann by now – assuming she was kidnapped of course.

  11. Leon — on 24th July, 2008 at 11:12 am  

    How many couples with children have passed through that port without any hitch?

    So the police should be allowed to argue for new powers on one pretext then use them however they want when they get them?

  12. soru — on 24th July, 2008 at 11:17 am  

    The lesson to be learned here is very simple.

    Don’t believe the rubbish you read in the papers when they go on their periodic witch hunts?

    Or did you have some more spurious lesson in mind?

  13. Ravi Naik — on 24th July, 2008 at 11:21 am  

    It is a rather odd story. If she was travelling abroad, wouldn’t she have a passport or an ID card with a photograph of her child?

  14. persephone — on 24th July, 2008 at 12:38 pm  

    @ 6 the query as to whether compensation was given for
    detaining the parents & their child for 2 hours:

    - By way of compensation the force paid £300 to the welfare fund at the boys school

    - The family’s ferry fare was also reimbursed and the boy was given a trip to the Kent Police marine launch

    - In a letter of apology to the family Inspector Shaw, from Kent Police Frontier Operations said: ‘Your complaint and my subsequent enquiries allowed me to identify that her manner had been insensitive, lacking in tact and that her conduct overall lacked the professionalism I expect. (The officer involved has also been transferred)

    - Another spokesman said: ‘We are very sorry. Clearly, things didn’t go completely right.

    The mother & stepfather of the boy were both white. The boy was mixed heritage-his biological father was black.

    Someone has said this was facism – was protecting the child really fascism? What would have been our reaction if a couple HAD been trafficking a mixed heritage child & the police had let them thru’? Would we then have read into it that the police were not protecting mixed races?

  15. cjcjc — on 24th July, 2008 at 1:28 pm  

    The point is the use of (supposedly) anti-terrorist legislation for other purposes.

    This is called abuse of power.

    Hardly the first time, even if in this case in an apparently worthier cause.

    Are there really no other laws under which suspected traffickers can be detained??

  16. douglas clark — on 24th July, 2008 at 1:29 pm  

    persephone,

    Fine, everything ended up well. That is not the bloody point. The point is that there is legislation that deals with human trafficking. There was absolutely no need whatsoever to invoke terrorism legislation, was there? Did the cop expect the child to explode or something?

    The point here is that legislation that contains swingeing punitive powers were used in a case where they were clearly inappropriate. I’d have thought that that was stating the bleeding obvious.

  17. Kulvinder — on 24th July, 2008 at 1:42 pm  

    Sunny – How many couples with children have passed through that port without any hitch?

    Thats an utterly ridiculous thing to say; if for the sake of argument someone is a victim of a miscarriage of justice it doesn’t make it in anyway ‘ok’ for their ordeal to be dismissed as a statistical anomaly.

    The friction and distrust caused by the police idiotically stopping people in the past is well documented.

    Someone has said this was facism – was protecting the child really fascism?

    No; presuming that a couple are trafficking simply because the colour of their skin happens to be different to the colour of their child’s skin is racist authoritarianism.

    The child never needed protection nor did the officer concerned have any indication that it needed protection.

  18. MaidMarian — on 24th July, 2008 at 1:44 pm  

    cjcjc (15) – I don’t think that one could call this an abuse of power given the apology, compensation etc. If this was some sort of standard practice then it may well amount to an abuse of power.

    Similarly douglas clark (16). It looks to me as though you and the police agree, the police statement is clear that there was no need to invoke terror legislation and it should not have happened.

    I just get a feeling (and I am probably going to get eaten alive for articulating it) that the civil liberties hard-liners may just need to go and talk to someone who actually comes from a real police state. To suggest that there is, ‘apparent right to stop and shoot Brazillians,’ rather suggests (hyperbole aside) a lack of perspective.

  19. Sunny — on 24th July, 2008 at 2:47 pm  

    Douglas, above, is spot on.

  20. persephone — on 24th July, 2008 at 3:08 pm  

    Douglas Clark

    OK the police officer made the wrong judgement call (intentionally or otherwise perhaps due to incompetence). The to quote ‘swingeing punitive powers’ or ‘abuse of power’ we are talking about being invoked was a questioning period of 2 hours in what appears to be an isolated case.

    Aside from what legislation is being used there needs to be some perspective as it appears to be sensationalism.

    There are many other issues where bigger problems exist that need attention

  21. Ravi Naik — on 24th July, 2008 at 3:26 pm  

    Too much noise… I mean, racist authoritarianism? Aren’t we supposed to take this seriously?

    Are people satisfied with the level of information provided to make a judgement on the police procedure? I am not:

    1) Is child trafficking a problem in the UK? How many cases of couples taking out children do police estimate there is? How many were caught?
    2) Did the child have a passport with his picture on it? If not, what would be the right procedure in case where the child doesn’t look like his guardians?

    How should the police deal with cases of child trafficking, when it suspects that there might be fowl play? Is it preferable to ignore the problem to avoid harassing someone unjustly, then prevent a child to be taken out of the country?

    After the Charles de Menezes incident, I am prepared to believe anything is possible with our police, but still I would give them the benefit of the doubt before getting all the information. It is easy to criticise when we don’t have all the information, because the void is filled with our prejudices and biases.

  22. MaidMarian — on 24th July, 2008 at 3:36 pm  

    Ravi Naik (21) –

    Well, looking at the link in the article where the author alludes to, ‘increasing the powers of the (flawed, prejudiced) police officers to do what they like with anyone they don’t like the look of,’ I would suggest that the prejudices and biases here are not far from the surface.

  23. Kulvinder — on 24th July, 2008 at 4:34 pm  

    Too much noise… I mean, racist authoritarianism?

    Would you prefer it if a black couple were stopped because their adopted white baby didn’t fit a particular social prejudice an officer had?

    They were stopped because their child was mixed race. Irrespective of the fact they were white the way they were treated was racist.

  24. Leon — on 24th July, 2008 at 5:14 pm  

    talk to someone who actually comes from a real police state.

    So no answer to my question?

    You really don’t think our country is taking on the character, via repressive laws, that could easily one day become a full blown police state? Have you not seen Taking Liberties??

  25. MaidMarian — on 24th July, 2008 at 7:25 pm  

    Leon (24) – You are a demanding type!!!!

    ‘So the police should be allowed to argue for new powers on one pretext then use them however they want when they get them?’

    Yes, that is my point exactly, you are not putting words into my mouth, nor are you misrepresenting me.

    No, I do not think that the country is taking on the character you describe, I think you are seeing what you want to, no more no less.

    Who and/or what is Taking Liberties – apart from what you are doing to my earlier comments. May I respectfully suggest to you a reading of ‘Terror and Consent’ by the modern day genius that is Philip Bobbitt for a counter-point?

  26. Leon — on 24th July, 2008 at 8:36 pm  

    But you haven’t answered the question. Do you think it’s ok the police can ask for powers on one pretext and use them how they feel once they have them?

    This is not the first time this has happened.

    I personally witnessed someone I know being stopped under anti terror laws while filming some shots for a documentary; they searched his dreadlocks (to which he replied, ‘you looking for bombs under there??) ffs.

    I aint into scaremongering but by the same token I’m not inclined to stick my head in the sand.

    http://www.noliberties.com/

  27. Ravi Naik — on 24th July, 2008 at 9:39 pm  

    Would you prefer it if a black couple were stopped because their adopted white baby didn’t fit a particular social prejudice an officer had?

    That’s a rather deceiving question because you are already telling me that the baby was adopted by the couple. But if child trafficking is a problem, and the guardians do not look like the baby, and cannot provide a photo ID of the child – then I would say it is much better to be “racist” then to allow a child to be smuggled out of the country.

  28. Kulvinder — on 24th July, 2008 at 10:07 pm  

    That’s a rather deceiving question because you are already telling me that the baby was adopted by the couple.

    If you didn’t know the couple you’d stop them on the basis of the exact same prejudice (‘do not look like the baby’); regardless to what extent child trafficking is a problem i would not support any policy that was prejudicial against parents and guardians who were in a multiracial/ethnic relationship or those that had adopted children who looked ‘different’ to them.

  29. douglas clark — on 24th July, 2008 at 10:13 pm  

    MaidMairian,

    ‘So the police should be allowed to argue for new powers on one pretext then use them however they want when they get them?’

    Yes, that is my point exactly, you are not putting words into my mouth, nor are you misrepresenting me.

    Really? For pity’s sake tell me you were being ironic, or satirical or something. You are not explaining yourself very well, methinks.

    Reviewing your comments, this, for instance could be taken two ways:

    Well, looking at the link in the article where the author alludes to, ‘increasing the powers of the (flawed, prejudiced) police officers to do what they like with anyone they don’t like the look of,’ I would suggest that the prejudices and biases here are not far from the surface.

    Either it means that you think the prejudices and biases are those of the policeman or those of the author. I am not clear whose periscope depth has been reached.

  30. douglas clark — on 24th July, 2008 at 10:30 pm  

    Leon @ 26,

    Isn’t it quite interesting how cameramen and other folk taking pictures are now amongst the victimised in our society? Call me paranoid, but it seems that taking a picture, such as this one:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u7Mf9j8co70&feature=related

    can cast a shadow over a dictatorship for a generation.

  31. BenSix — on 24th July, 2008 at 10:33 pm  

    “I just get a feeling (and I am probably going to get eaten alive for articulating it) that the civil liberties hard-liners may just need to go and talk to someone who actually comes from a real police state.”

    Logically, this statement could also be used if the Government were to, say, bring in capital punishment:

    “Sure, we have the death penalty, but you should go and talk to someone who actually comes from a country where they use it a lot.”

    It shifts the goalposts in altering the extent at which intrusions upon civil liberties become acceptable.

    Ben

  32. douglas clark — on 24th July, 2008 at 10:53 pm  

    Ben,

    No longer:

    Respectfully,

    Ben

    ———————————————

    About bloody time Sir!

  33. BenSix — on 24th July, 2008 at 11:04 pm  

    “About bloody time Sir!”

    Well, too much time on the blogs and one loses all respect. Still, a reminder was needed.

    Respectfully,

    Ben

  34. Ravi Naik — on 24th July, 2008 at 11:06 pm  

    “If you didn’t know the couple you’d stop them on the basis of the exact same prejudice (’do not look like the baby’)”

    What do you mean stopping couples on the basis of the exact same prejudice?

  35. El Cid — on 24th July, 2008 at 11:15 pm  

    “It is legislation creep.

    You ought to assume that a bureaucracy – in this case the Police – will attempt to apply legislation in circumstances it was not designed for, mainly because it extends their powers. And you three are all in favour!”

    Fair point Douglas. It was a strong worded apology tough — not the stuff of bureaucracy. I take some comfort from that.

  36. douglas clark — on 24th July, 2008 at 11:35 pm  

    El Cid,

    I am in my anarchist phase!

    I shall reply to you on the morrow. you, sir would probably take comfort from a damned cushion!

  37. Kulvinder — on 25th July, 2008 at 2:38 am  

    What do you mean stopping couples on the basis of the exact same prejudice?

    Racially prejudicing against those who happen to be in a multiracial relationship!!?

  38. Ravi Naik — on 25th July, 2008 at 4:33 pm  

    Racially prejudicing against those who happen to be in a multiracial relationship!!?

    Common-sense should prevail over political correctness. If witnesses of a crime create a profile of a fugitive as an East Asian, should the police scrap that description because it has a racial element, which will lead to the “racial” pursuit of the fugitive? Should it only include things like: the criminal used glasses, thin, tall and light skinned?

  39. Kulvinder — on 25th July, 2008 at 5:34 pm  

    Ah yes political correctness; Godwin’s for the 21st century.

    If witnesses of a crime create a profile of a fugitive as an East Asian, should the police scrap that description because it has a racial element, which will lead to the “racial” pursuit of the fugitive? Should it only include things like: the criminal used glasses, thin, tall and light skinned?

    There was no crime committed.

  40. Ravi Naik — on 26th July, 2008 at 1:15 pm  

    There was no crime committed.

    You are contradicting yourself: you just said you didn’t care about the level of criminal activity in regards to child trafficking. Which leads me to believe you are against the police actually investigating, questioning and narrowing down suspects to East Asians because (a) it is literally racial discrimination, (b) they might be innocent… and to you such activity is the result of an “authoritative racist state”.

    I believe there should be a balance. Certainly the police should act whenever they suspect something is out of the ordinary, even if non-whites are involved. The same judgement “don’t look the same” could be applied to members of the same race… or to you, people of the same race all look alike?

    I want to know the following: did the couple neglect to bring all the necessary identification? Will they have to bring extra documentation (e.g. birth certificate) just because the child is “different” to avoid going through all of that again? Did the police follow its guidelines in handling such cases?

    Even though I defend the right for the Police to investigate this case and others, I certainly believe the police was tactless and insensible to the couple and the child. What mother wants to hear that her child doesn’t look like her (if that’s indeed what was said)?

  41. Kulvinder — on 26th July, 2008 at 2:00 pm  

    You are contradicting yourself: you just said you didn’t care about the level of criminal activity in regards to child trafficking.

    Sweety tell me what crime was committed. I’m unsure what incident you’re referring to but in the case of the couple apparently being stopped under anti-terrorism legislation; they committed no crime.

    Which leads me to believe you are against the police actually investigating, questioning and narrowing down suspects to East Asians because (a) it is literally racial discrimination, (b) they might be innocent… and to you such activity is the result of an “authoritative racist state”.

    I have absolutely no idea what the hell you’re talking about.

    You believe im against East Asians being investigated and questioned?! In the name of sanity where have i said that?

    I want to know the following: did the couple neglect to bring all the necessary identification?

    You’re the one who brought it up; you tell me.

    For the sake of argument. I can’t see anything in the link about them subsequently altering their documentation; assuming they didn’t (and i reiterate i can’t see anything any of this in the link) they had, by definition, the necessary documentation.

    Will they have to bring extra documentation (e.g. birth certificate) just because the child is “different” to avoid going through all of that again?

    I have no idea; either what your point is or whether they’ll choose to do that.

    Did the police follow its guidelines in handling such cases?

    I have to ask, but are you just trolling? Either that or you’ve read a completely different story to the rest of us.

    The police don’t hand out compensation when they’ve followed their guidelines and procedures.

  42. Ravi Naik — on 26th July, 2008 at 4:22 pm  

    Sweety tell me what crime was committed. I’m unsure what incident you’re referring to but in the case of the couple apparently being stopped under anti-terrorism legislation; they committed no crime.

    The freaking crime is child trafficking. And it is safe to assume that one give away are people that carry children who look very different from them. The whole point of stopping is to investigate if there is fowl play. You seem to be confused on a rather simple rule of causality: you know as a fact that there is no crime after the investigation, not before. So the fact they committed no crime is a conclusion, not the reasoning for not performing an investigation.

    You are also confused because you lost track of what you were bitching about in the first place: because the suspicion came about based on the observation that the child was different from his guardians. You said that constitutes racial discrimination. But as I pointed out, the police when looking for suspects, might question innocent individuals on the basis of their ethnicity because they match a particular profile. Again, a question of balance: and both extremes (political correctness and racial repression) have to give way for an intelligent and sensible way to deal with crime.

    I have to ask, but are you just trolling?

    I was going to ask you the same. I believe that accusing someone of racism is rather serious, and if I accuse someone of racial prejudice (as in trying to harm someone purposely because of their physical characteristics) – I may well have solid evidence of that fact. You presented nothing of the sort, preferring to engage in an exercise of histrionics by saying we live in racist authoritative state (ironically, you contradicted yourself when you said that the police violated their guidelines because they paid compensation – so at worst, it was based on an officer’s rogue actions not sponsored-state racism).

    While it may be that the female officer actions were driven by racism, it is very possible – specially in the presence of a disabled child – that she was overzealous. It seems a rather less cynical narrative than the one you are presenting: that a female officer would put the parents and a disabled child through all of that knowing all along they were innocent – all because of her racist ways.

    I am sure you have no idea what I am talking about. I am not sure why I bother sometimes.

  43. Kulvinder — on 26th July, 2008 at 7:07 pm  

    You seem to be confused on a rather simple rule of causality: you know as a fact that there is no crime after the investigation, not before.

    Er no. You see darling

    THERE WAS NO CRIME

    There was no crime committed, there was no investigation, there were no reports of any missing children, there was no call to be on the look out for people matching their description, there were no reports of any missing children, there were no complaints to the police, there was no crime.

    The police do not randomly stop people men in the street to find out if they’re rapists or murderers; the crime occurs, the police open a file begin an investigation and go on with their enquiries. The ‘sus laws’ of old are no longer applicable and this incident is a pretty good example of why they would fail if reintroduced. There had been no crime reported and the police knew it wasn’t ok to stop them simply because they were a different colour to their children. They did nothing to arouse suspicion.

    You presented nothing of the sort,

    Apart from the article which points out the child didn’t look anything like the parents.

    so at worst, it was based on an officer’s rogue actions not sponsored-state racism).

    ‘state-sponsored’

    This is really to do with semantics, though the officer didn’t follow the police guidelines neither did she contravene them to the extent she lost her job.

    that a female officer would put the parents and a disabled child through all of that knowing all along they were innocent – all because of her racist ways.

    I never suggested that; the act of an officer interfering with the individual freedom of anyone doesn’t have to be based corruption for it to be wrong.

    If for the sake of argument an officer associates crime with black people they won’t consider it wrong to stop someone on the basis of them being black – they wouldn’t think them innocent to begin with ie the underlying presumption would be bigoted but sincere. Similarly if they associate child rape with gay men and they stop a gay couple whilst out with their children; they may not have considered them innocent but that doesn’t mean their actions weren’t homophobic.

    I am sure you have no idea what I am talking about.

    We can agree on that.

  44. Ravi Naik — on 26th July, 2008 at 7:37 pm  

    There was no crime committed, there was no investigation, there were no reports of any missing children

    Is that how you think the police should act when tackling child trafficking and smuggling in general? How cute.

    This is really to do with semantics, though the officer didn’t follow the police guidelines neither did she contravene them to the extent she lost her job.

    But, as you said, enough for a letter of apology and a donation. Racist authoritarian regimes are not what they used to be. :)

    Similarly if they associate child rape with gay men and they stop a gay couple whilst out with their children; they may not have considered them innocent but that doesn’t mean their actions weren’t homophobic.

    Given the calibre of your examples, are you saying that the female officer associated child trafficking (or smuggling) crime to women who engage in interracial relationships? Honestly, that sounds convoluted.

    Unless you believe that people from the same race all look alike, I really don’t think you have a case accusing anyone of “racial repression”, apart from the officer in question being insensible and tactless to a couple with a disabled child, and that is bad enough.

  45. Kulvinder — on 26th July, 2008 at 8:27 pm  

    Is that how you think the police should act when tackling child trafficking and smuggling in general? How cute.

    Racial profiling isn’t even a tactic used in dealing with terrorism so i don’t see any reason to use it with people smuggling.

    But, as you said, enough for a letter of apology and a donation. Racist authoritarian regimes are not what they used to be.

    Given the choice between being stopped in such a manner by the police and the awarding of compensation afterwards or being left to carry on in peace i’d choose the latter, as i suspect would most people including the couple involved. The awarding of compensation doesn’t alter the iniquity of the act.

    Given the calibre of your examples, are you saying that the female officer associated child trafficking (or smuggling) crime to women who engage in interracial relationships?

    That would be impossible given the fact both the man and the woman were white. I am saying the officer concerned incorrectly associated the simple fact the child with those two people was of a different colour with trafficking.

Sorry, the comment form is closed at this time.

Pickled Politics © Copyright 2005 - 2010. All rights reserved. Terms and conditions.
With the help of PHP and Wordpress.