Sunday, May 24, 2009

170,000 stops, 6 arrests, zero convictions?

I don't understand what's going on with civil rights in the U.K. Civil libertarians in the U.S. still have a lot to criticize; although I want to think things are getting better, I have a few examples that will have you shaking your head....but the U.K. seems headed off the deep end.

Section 44 of the Terrorism Act in the U.K. has allowed London Metropolitan Police to stop and search people every three minutes-- that's `70,000 stops last year, with an arrest rate resulting from those stops of a whole 65 people-- and no convictions to which any public official can point. BBC.

People who attend anti-war rallies in the U.K. are finding themselves stopped and questioned because of a new system to tracking license plate numbers through a going-national CCTV surveillance system. BoingBoing.

At least some U.K. school kids are standing up for their rights to not be surveilled. when CCTV cameras were hooked up in Davenant Foundation School, students staged a three week walk-out. BoingBoing.

Back in the U.S.A., although this may seem less serious, apparently law enforcement personnel in Massachusetts have been using the Criminal Offender Record Information system (CORI) to look up personal information on Matt Damon, James Taylor, and Patriot and Celtics stars. CORI records are only supposed to be accessed by trained personnel for specific purposes. Other flaws in the CORI system (though surely not all) were identified in a state audit. Boston Globe.

In Baltimore, a couple who were the victims of a mistaken "No Knock" warrant have found themselves facing a $50 trash ticket for the door that police destroyed when they broke it down!! (Wrong address.) The victims are trying to get the city to pay for replacing the door. Don't Tase Me, Bro.

And check out Photography Is Not a Crime for some astounding examples of officials thinking they have some power they don't have, and then enforcing laws that don't exist. Example: an Akron, Ohio man had his cellphone confiscated and then the video on it deleted by a police officer because he was recoding the rescue of a five year old from a revolving door. He'd been planning to sell the video to a local TV station.

Photo from Publik15's photostream at Flickr.

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