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Old 12-06-2008, 12:31 AM   #1
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United Kingdom: Police State?

So, we've heard about the various limitations to freedom that have gone through in Britain, along with those speakers on every corner that watch you and then speak with a child's voice when you litter or something, and the hover drones that are now patrolling metropolitan areas, and now(http://www.independent.co.uk/arts-en...e-1028240.html) the police will get to decide if the music being played will mesh will with the ethnic background of the probable listeners.

Now, I'm pretty okay with telling the police who's going to be playing, bands are after all, public groups and it's pretty easy to find out who any of them are, so it's not like you'll be telling the cops anything special. I do however take issue with the ethnic background thing. I mean, it's one thing to say that a band that promotes hate can't play, but it's another thing to say a band can't play because the ethnic background of the possible listeners is a bad mix.

No bar/pub is going to be stupid enough to alienate their prime customers, and it's even worse to think that they'd purposely play music to get a bunch of drunks riled up(since most of the property damage would start in their pub).

so: thoughts?


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Old 12-06-2008, 12:50 AM   #2
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Big Brother is watching you.


"They should rename the team to the Washington Government Sucks. Put Obama on the helmet. Line the entire walls of the stadium with the actual text of the ACA.
Fix their home team score on the board to the debt clock, they can win every game 17,000,000,000,000 to 24. Losing team gets taxed by the IRS 100%, then droned."
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Old 12-06-2008, 12:51 AM   #3
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Originally Posted by Qliveur View Post
Big Brother is watching you.
Yes, that's fairly obvious here.


"So if you go to Washington, it's buildings clean and nice. Bring a pack of matches...and we'll burn the White House twice!"

"Nobody's talking about extermination. No one ever does. They just do it." - Magneto

"Don't solicit for your sister, that's not nice, unless you get a good percentage of her price."
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Old 12-06-2008, 12:56 AM   #4
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Well, I think it's getting out of hand, don't you? I believe that it's only a matter of time before we start seeing this kind of thing in the States.


"They should rename the team to the Washington Government Sucks. Put Obama on the helmet. Line the entire walls of the stadium with the actual text of the ACA.
Fix their home team score on the board to the debt clock, they can win every game 17,000,000,000,000 to 24. Losing team gets taxed by the IRS 100%, then droned."
-Toker
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Old 12-06-2008, 02:23 AM   #5
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Originally Posted by Qliveur View Post
Well, I think it's getting out of hand, don't you? I believe that it's only a matter of time before we start seeing this kind of thing in the States.
Yes I certainly think that it's getting out of hand over there, and I agree to a point that we'll see such things here if we're not careful, but there are several key differences between the US and the UK that would make it much more difficult to implement.

Such as the size of our country(what some, 25 times larger?) and population, I think around 6 times as large, and while politicians haven't always followed it, we have the Bill of Rights, something that England does not have. Not to mention their general practice of "common law" that is, rules based on what the people find acceptable at the time of the ruling, and our practice of establishing laws that do not change abruptly(though have minor variations) from place to place and time to time. As well as our electoral system, which sets us up for voting for politicians on a more individual basis, than voting for a party, sure, most people vote Democrat or Republican, but that hardly means that a NY democrat and a california democrat follow the exact same ideas.

As well as electing our president, which can often establish a disconnect between Congress, the Courts, and the Executive branch, which often prevents the passing of laws that only one party wants to push. Whereas in the UK, the PM is the head of the majority party(or majority coalition), and the system works in reverse to ours(Congress approves/creates bills, then the president does, in the UK, the PM approves/creates bills, and then Parliament supports them, rarely do they not.)


"So if you go to Washington, it's buildings clean and nice. Bring a pack of matches...and we'll burn the White House twice!"

"Nobody's talking about extermination. No one ever does. They just do it." - Magneto

"Don't solicit for your sister, that's not nice, unless you get a good percentage of her price."
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Old 12-06-2008, 03:21 AM   #6
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Well, we already have this to a certain extent with those automated cameras that take pictures of people running red lights or speeding. But people do tend to throw a huge fit about those, so yeah, it will probably be a while before they could implement the level of surveillance that has been attained in Britain.

This thread was actually enlightening to a certain degree. Whenever I feel like complaining about how little say we have in how we are governed, I can think of this thread and feel a little bit better about the whole thing.


"They should rename the team to the Washington Government Sucks. Put Obama on the helmet. Line the entire walls of the stadium with the actual text of the ACA.
Fix their home team score on the board to the debt clock, they can win every game 17,000,000,000,000 to 24. Losing team gets taxed by the IRS 100%, then droned."
-Toker
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Old 12-06-2008, 04:34 AM   #7
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Not stepping into the thread or anything, just making a technical correction.
Quote:
Not to mention their general practice of "common law" that is, rules based on what the people find acceptable at the time of the ruling,
Common Law is actually something quite different. Generally speaking in order for something to be illegal you need a piece of legislation that says so. Except for things like Murder, Rape, etc. These crimes are considered so universally recognised that there is no specific Parliamentary legislation which says they're illegal. It falls under Common Law, that is, commonly perceived throughout the world to be universally recognised as illegal in any civilisation. Parliamentary legislation mostly relates to sentencing of these crimes, rather than specifically stating they are illegal.
Hence there is no such thing as justifiable homicide in Westminster, it is automatically illegal under Common Law no matter how publicly acceptable a specific act may be (such as murdering a would-be assailant in self defence: i l l e g a l). Also, carrying an improvised weapon of any type for the specified purpose of self defence: criminal intent.

It is not a very contemporary system, and is based upon the mediaeval rule (divine right).
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Old 12-06-2008, 06:14 AM   #8
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Originally Posted by Web Rider View Post
Yes I certainly think that it's getting out of hand over there
Perhaps an ever so slight exaggeration? I know that there are CCTV cameras in place in the capital - and so there should be, to aid in prevention of crime, but I can tell you without any doubt that this is not the case across the Kingdom. Belfast, for example, sees very little of this. Infact, the PSNI are sometimes criticised for not being visible enough, and not being able to do enough. In fact, most of our officers find themselves so bogged down in the reams of paperwork that they must complete for every move they make that it is rare to see an officer 'on the beat' over here.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Web Rider View Post
we have the Bill of Rights, something that England does not have. Not to mention their general practice of "common law" that is, rules based on what the people find acceptable at the time of the ruling, and our practice of establishing laws that do not change abruptly(though have minor variations) from place to place and time to time.
Wrong in a few ways.

1) Bill of Rights - The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland is one of the many signatories to the European Convention of Human Rights. Implemented by the Human Rights Act 1998, it gives us the Freedoms that every person holds dear. The Government has surprisingly little say in its content - the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg sets precedent which must be followed. While Parliament may assert its right to sever rights from the implementation act, such an action would see them dragged before the Strasbourg court. Which has happened before. In fact, every signatory has been in front of the court at one time or another. Also, there have been a raft of Human Rights Commissions, public office Ombudsmen, complaints authorities, etc. put in place since 2000.

2)Our 'general practice of common law rules' is not dissimilar from your general practice of common law rules. For examples, see the precedents of your Supreme Court. For inconsistency, see some of the precedents of your Supreme Court. Contrarily, our highest court, the House of Lords, and our highest judges, the Lords Justice, have rarely been seen to be appointed on a political basis.
The basic construction of the offence of Homicide has seen little change by our courts over the last 120 years, save what has been necessary to clear up inconsistencies and move with new sciences, for example. In cases of assault, we stil refer to precedents from as early as 1669.
All courts are bound by conditions of precedent. If a rule is to be changed - say one that has been set down by the House of Lords, then the only court that can change that ruling is the House of Lords, or the ECtHR in Human Rights cases. Even then, the Lords Jutice have been unwilling to remove an existing precedent unless it is a proven problem.

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Originally Posted by Web Rider View Post
As well as our electoral system, which sets us up for voting for politicians on a more individual basis, than voting for a party, sure, most people vote Democrat or Republican, but that hardly means that a NY democrat and a california democrat follow the exact same ideas.
Not every Labour MP, not every Tory or even Lib Dem is exactly the same. Thus the back-bench revolts of the later years of Blair's tenure in office. On the ballot, people do not vote 'Labour', 'Conservative', 'Lib Dem' or any other party, they put the cross beside the person's name, with the party identified. Actually, not so different from the American system. Except we have more than two parties. And no electoral college.

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Originally Posted by Web Rider View Post
Congress approves/creates bills, then the president does, in the UK, the PM approves/creates bills, and then Parliament supports them, rarely do they not.
Rather the Government drafts its Bills for discussion in the House of Commons, then in committees, then back to the Commons, then to the Lords for the same process, then Her Majesty must give Royal Assent. The PM's assent is irrelevant, save that it will be hard to pass a Bill that the head of the Government disapproves of. Individual MPs may also submit Bills.

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Originally Posted by vanir View Post
Common Law is actually something quite different. Generally speaking in order for something to be illegal you need a piece of legislation that says so.
Not quite. Common law principles can have the same force as legislation when such legislation is not present. Legislation can be passed to add something to the law or make a considerable change to it, which the courts are rightly unwilling to do without Parliament's authority. Many new Acts in areas of Criminal Law especially happen to be legislative restatements of existing common law principles, too.

Quote:
Originally Posted by vanir View Post
Hence there is no such thing as justifiable homicide in Westminster, it is automatically illegal under Common Law no matter how publicly acceptable a specific act may be (such as murdering a would-be assailant in self defence: i l l e g a l). Also, carrying an improvised weapon of any type for the specified purpose of self defence: criminal intent.
Not so. There are defences to Murder. Some, like provocation, reduce the sentence to manslaughter, others, like reasonable self defence, acquit.


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Old 12-06-2008, 04:01 PM   #9
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Originally Posted by SW01 View Post
Perhaps an ever so slight exaggeration? I know that there are CCTV cameras in place in the capital - and so there should be, to aid in prevention of crime, but I can tell you without any doubt that this is not the case across the Kingdom. Belfast, for example, sees very little of this. Infact, the PSNI are sometimes criticised for not being visible enough, and not being able to do enough. In fact, most of our officers find themselves so bogged down in the reams of paperwork that they must complete for every move they make that it is rare to see an officer 'on the beat' over here.
To be fair, I should correct myself, and state that most of these things are limited to the England part of the UK. Tony Blair's process of devolution and giving the parts of the UK more power over themselves keeps this from being more widespread.

Quote:
Wrong in a few ways.

1) Bill of Rights - The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland is one of the many signatories to the European Convention of Human Rights. Implemented by the Human Rights Act 1998, it gives us the Freedoms that every person holds dear. The Government has surprisingly little say in its content - the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg sets precedent which must be followed. While Parliament may assert its right to sever rights from the implementation act, such an action would see them dragged before the Strasbourg court. Which has happened before. In fact, every signatory has been in front of the court at one time or another. Also, there have been a raft of Human Rights Commissions, public office Ombudsmen, complaints authorities, etc. put in place since 2000.
Here, you can read it too: http://www.hri.org/docs/ECHR50.html#Convention
The protections are iffy at best and nowhere near as specific as the US Bill of Rights, not to mention almost every Article states that "in a specific time that the government deems it so, it doesn't have to follow these rules." You can read it and tell me I'm wrong, but but there is the entirety of Article 15 that allows governments to ignore the rights listed within if they have/want to.
And I quote:
Quote:
ARTICLE 15

1. In time of war or other public emergency threatening the life of the nation any High Contracting Party may take measures derogating from its obligations under this Convention to the extent strictly required by the exigencies of the situation, provided that such measures are not inconsistent with its other obligations under international law.
2. No derogation from Article 2, except in respect of deaths resulting from lawful acts of war, or from Articles 3, 4 (paragraph 1) and 7 shall be made under this provision.
3. Any High Contracting Party availing itself of this right of derogation shall keep the Secretary-General of the Council of Europe fully informed of the measures which it has taken and the reasons therefor. It shall also inform the Secretary-General of the Council of Europe when such measures have ceased to operate and the provisions of the Convention are again being fully executed.
Other sections:
Quote:
ARTICLE 13

Everyone whose rights and freedoms as set forth in this Convention are violated shall have an effective remedy before a national authority notwithstanding that the violation has been committed by persons acting in an official capacity.
So if I do it, that's bad. If Tony Blair does it, that's OK, he's an official.

Quote:
ARTICLE 12

Men and women of marriageable age have the right to marry and to found a family, according to the national laws governing the exercise of this right.
Quote:
ARTICLE 11

2: No restrictions shall be placed on the exercise of these rights other than such as are prescribed by law and are necessary in a democratic society in the interests of national security or public safety, for the prevention of disorder or crime, for the protection of health or morals or for the protection of the rights and freedoms of others. this article shall not prevent the imposition of lawful restrictions on the exercise of these rights by members of the armed forces, of the police or of the administration of the State.
Meaning: "you can't if the government says you can't."

and the list goes on, and on, and on.
Meaning they don't if the nation says they don't.

Quote:
2)Our 'general practice of common law rules' is not dissimilar from your general practice of common law rules.
On that I was indeed wrong in retrospect.

Quote:
Not every Labour MP, not every Tory or even Lib Dem is exactly the same. Thus the back-bench revolts of the later years of Blair's tenure in office. On the ballot, people do not vote 'Labour', 'Conservative', 'Lib Dem' or any other party, they put the cross beside the person's name, with the party identified. Actually, not so different from the American system. Except we have more than two parties. And no electoral college.
Except they are voting for them on the basis of party and not individual ideology. You support *guy* 'cause he's Labor, not because of him personally, not that there aren't personable MPs of course.


"So if you go to Washington, it's buildings clean and nice. Bring a pack of matches...and we'll burn the White House twice!"

"Nobody's talking about extermination. No one ever does. They just do it." - Magneto

"Don't solicit for your sister, that's not nice, unless you get a good percentage of her price."
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Old 12-06-2008, 05:03 PM   #10
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To be fair, yes there are qualifications to some of the rights enshrined in the Convention. However, a government is not free to derogate and simply say 'We deem it necessary.' There have been cases in the past where governments, including the British government, have been brought to the ECtHR to challenge those limitations. On one in particular, involving a blanket restriction on prisoner's voting rights, the government was ruled against, informed that a restriction in principle may be acceptable, but it had to be focused.

You can also see in Article 15 that the Secretary-General of the Council of Europe must be informed of all restrictions made to those rights (except right to life, freedom from torture, freedom from slavery, and the rule against liability under laws passed after the event) - exclusively available in time of war or national emergency threatening the life of the nation. That one has also been contended before, this time in the House of Lords, to do with internment without trial of non-national terrorist suspects. That was held as contrary to Human Rights.

Your interpretation of Article 13 is mistaken, though understandably so: acting in a position of authority is notwithstanding - meaning that they are liable in spite of their position.

Article 12's provision for accordance with national laws on marriage is mainly to cater to the various different nations that are signatories, and their cultural differences on the subject. The covnentions on marriage in the United Kingdom and Turkey are not the same, for example.

It is important to remember that governments have these powers, but their actions in reliance on those powers can be, and have been, challenged in court.

On the last point, different people vote for different reasons. Some vote exclusively for the party, be they Democrats or Tories, others vote for the individual - assessing whether s/he toes the party line or is one of the more rebellious party representatives, for example. It is an inherent problem with party-based politics, in my opinion, and yes it does seem that individuals are often lost behind the main players in a party, but there are many that are elected for their individual politics rather than their party's - such as 'Old Labour' MPs.


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Old 12-06-2008, 06:41 PM   #11
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Originally Posted by SW01
Not so. There are defences to Murder. Some, like provocation, reduce the sentence to manslaughter, others, like reasonable self defence, acquit.
Semantics. You still get charged unless there are special, very unusual circumstances. Under the justifiable homicide rule, you don't get charged unless there is reason for suspicion (not to say you won't be interviewed/investigated extensively). There are also very different rules about Manslaughter between the United States and Westminster, typical sentencing is still 8-12 for your garden variety no malice but killed him anyway.
Quote:
Not quite. Common law principles can have the same force as legislation when such legislation is not present. Legislation can be passed to add something to the law or make a considerable change to it, which the courts are rightly unwilling to do without Parliament's authority. Many new Acts in areas of Criminal Law especially happen to be legislative restatements of existing common law principles, too.
The way I put it is more workable. When I was working with the Federal Police as Parliamentary security in Melbourne it was exceedingly simple. If I had reason to arrest somebody I use the Crimes Act, the Vagrancies Act, the Control of Weapons Act, etc., which then bounces you over to Section 458 of the Crimes Act (arrest) and Section 462/a (reasonable and proportionate force rule), governing the actual arrest itself.
Murder is not mentioned anywhere in the Crimes Act, not a peep. It's under Common Law.

wrt to self defence, England does have a major difference in the House of Lords and statements of individuals such as Lord Howe, who effectively created an Act that said preemptive strikes were okay for British citizens to perform. No such Minutes have been taken in Federalised Australian Parliaments, so this rule doesn't exist. That leaves the default Section 462/a of the Crimes Act governing use of force at any circumstance. So...doesn't matter how you reason your self defence, in most cases only a court ruled proportionate response under very loose guidelines is acceptable, in other words almost all cases of self defence wind up being two cases of assault and battery: one for the victim and one for the assailant. I mean you just about have to be a 35kg private school girl to club a rapist off you or a bloke stabbed half to death and left in a critical condition to put an attacker down and make sure he stays down. Or a cop. That's the system, which is in severe need of a complete refurbishment if you ask probably the majority of anybody who has to actually work with it.

(edit) was just talking to a mate who's been a cop both in the UK and here who says, yer that's pretty much how it works over there too. He says the system's buggered, the US legal system (wholly in this sense) is much better. Most of the time someone who even grabs somebody who's assaulting them gets charged straight up, there is no presumption of innocence and the burden of proof is left up to the victim. Probably the only good thing about it is the seriousness taken with arming police, which conversely isn't the case in Australia. 23 year old rookies on street patrol have firearms and the full authority to use them so long as it can be justified by the Police Union later, which is awkward when faced with situations entirely out of their personal, individual depth of character or experience.

Last edited by vanir; 12-06-2008 at 08:28 PM.
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