back to article MPs demand investigation into unlawful police action

Today’s revelation that the police raid on the offices of Damian Green, MP, had been carried out without a full warrant may yet return to haunt the police officers who authorised it. Critics of the police are asking whether this was simple oversight, or part of a broader pattern of police setting out to ignore restraints placed …

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Unhappy

Nice to see our MPs defending civil rights.

Pity they only speak up when its thier own privicy, priviledges and rights which are threatened.

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"operational independence" and "wherever the evidence takes them"

Is all very well, but not when it tramples all over our basic human rights.

If they did screw up right royally here, and it begins to look like they did, then heads must roll.

All the way to the top.

And yes, Jacqui, that's YOU!

(Please, please, please, please, please.)

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Needed a warrant?

The Telegraph are suggesting that the police might not need a warrant: specifically, that they don't need a warrant in cases where they have arrested the bloke in question.

I have no idea if that is true.

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If you've nothing to hide...

As I've long said, if you've got nothing to hide you've got nothing to fear (unless you're a muslim, an opposition MP, a journalist or an unconnected member of the general public... but they don't count).

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Unhappy

Blame both the Tories and New Labour

Although the Tories may well have been more sceptical of increased police powers in recent years, the power the police used to search in this instance was the warrantless search power granted them by the Thatcher government in the 1985 Police and Criminal Evidence Act*. This enables the police to search premises likely to have been used by an arrested person. As the current Neuer Arbeit goverment extended PACE arrest powers to ANY offence (the original Tory version was limited to "serious arrestable offenses") a warrantless search is lawful for the most trivial offenses as long as an arrest is made. This weakening of protections from searches has, of course, not been attended by any increase in protection from misuse of these powers of almost arbitrary arrest and search.

* An small irony, Harriet Harman (now Harriet Harman MP, Neuer Arbeit apparatchnik) was then working at NCCL (now Liberty) to oppose much of this act.

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NB
Stop

Police State UK

This is only thin end of the wedge, it'll be large scale arrests of private citizens for thought crime before you know it. The sooner we scrap the draconian so-called 'anti-terror' laws and the govt that introduced them, the better.

Can we have an icon of Great Britain being sodomised by Jacqui Smith please?

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Its a pity

Its a pity that the police dont spend more time catching thugs, yobs and gangsters and less time enforcing Labour's political will.

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Jobs Horns

good article and...

I like the quote, "....and not as in awe of the police as New Labour..." That is exactly it. Some police officers, senior ones, cajoled and flattered Blair and his colleagues into giving them more

powers once they got into office. Labour were so new into Office they were readily flattered by THAT police attention (although not the later cash for honours attention) .Labour were Naive but are now Nasty. The police should not keep saying they are independent of government, government is who sets the rules by which they work and it is the Police ,like Blair, who very many times

had meetings with top politicians and Lords to lobby for tougher powers. They cannot then

plead they don't want politicians interfering. As for Bob Quick the Met Officer who was responsible

for the Damian Green matter, he ,like Ian Blair was a Surrey officer before the Met and that kind of shows now in his actions. Remember Beckett from Surrey Police ?. Now that was only 1 of 2 things and I say no more than that.

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Thumb Up

Interesting acronym

PACE - as in "with all due respect to", "with due deference to", "by leave of", or "no offense to". Newspeak at its finest.

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Anonymous Coward

So its OK for the Police to go a fishing expedition

once they've arrested you for an offence.

Ooopps, we've arrested you for a motoring offence 'cos we want to intimidate you. Now we'll raid your house, place of work, places of Leisure and tell everyone we meet we've arrested you just so they and you know not to mess with us...

An exageration, obviously, but not inconcievable unless both the Law and Justice are applied and seen to be applied.

BTW lets be under no illusion here, the Conservatives are no less deferential to our armed services (Police & others) the New Labour when the needs require it.

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Alert

Don't give the police the benefit of the doubt

The police have gotten too big for their boots. They consider that they are accountable to nobody but themselves. This is done in the name of "independence".

I hope the police get a really good hiding for this. It has been a long time coming. Heads should roll.

It is disappointing this has only happened because an MP has been arrested. When Joe Public gets it, there is the usual "if you have nothing to hide you have nothing to fear" baloney.

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Gold badge

At first they came for the Tories...

...and I did nothing, because I was not a Tory.

But seriously, dervheid is right. Heads must roll, if for no other reason than incompetence. (Think about it. You're a senior policeman. The investigation points to an MP. So you decide to march into the House of Commons and search his office (and home) and arrest the chap. And you think you can cut corners on the legal niceties on this particular investigation? Or maybe you aren't that stupid and you got the Home Secretary's nod in advance. Well that let's *you* off the hook, but...)

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Anonymous Coward

Parliamentary privilege

This is referred to by many, citing that MPs have parliamentary privilege. They only have it in the House of Commons chamber, a fact which seems to elude the majority.

The police broke no law searching Damian Green's office, as he had already been arrested on suspicion of commiting a criminal offence.

As to whether the law needs to be changed (and I think that PACE obviously does), that's an entirely different issue.

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Thumb Up

Gaff or pattern?

"Critics of the police are asking whether this was simple oversight, or part of a broader pattern of police setting out to ignore restraints placed by parliament on their behaviour."

Its a pattern. The Police are getting a bit of a record for making the law up as they go along. Mainly at the instruction of government.

The biggest problem for us ordinary folk is bailiffs. They have a tendency to produce fake court orders and demand money or property compensation (with added admin charge). When the Police are called to give them some polite suggestions on where they can put it, the Police tend to take the bailiffs side, refusing to check on the legitimacy of the court order, and threaten to arrest the victim if they don't comply.

-- Richard

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Anonymous Coward

Police State

I think we do live in a police state, albeit one where the police seem to be a law unto themselves, pursuing their own agenda unconnected to law & order. When the police force were originally set up in the 1820s there was a widespread fear they'd be used as a repressive force by government. It now seems they are fulfilling that role, though they seem to be outside even government control. Independence seems to mean they can do what they like. They aren't upholding the law & making it look like the ass it is.

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Joke

Re: Blame both the Tories and New Labour

@AC 11.25

In the footnote should that not be "Harriet Harman (now Harriet Harman MP, Neuer Arbeit apparatchick)"?

OK, coat on and running

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Anonymous Coward

Daily mail Mode

Strange how this sort of thing happens on a daily basis, and nobody cares. The police regularly do things they legally can't and have been cheered on by the MPs so far. As soon as it happens to an MP though...

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Anonymous Coward

MY communications

I am a constituent of Damian Green, have communicated with him (being critical of the government no less) and have therefore probably had my communications snatched.

I have just made an IPCC complaint about it.

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The exact remit of this committee will be...

that they can't blame anyone, can't accuse anyone and can only talk about what SHOULD have happened.

Just like the Menzes case, where the coroner told them practically the same thing.

Fuck it.

Kick in the nads for an officer if they think of asking me "do you have ID, sir?"

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re: Parliamentary privilege

"The police broke no law searching Damian Green's office, as he had already been arrested on suspicion of commiting a criminal offence."

Wrong.

The Sergeant at Arms had no right to allow entry of the police. This sort of thing is trespass, theft of property and, since there will be state secrets the police could have had access to without any oversight, a state security issue.

Parliamentary privilige does only exist in the House itself, but then again, since it is not the House itself, and the Sergeant only has remit over that area, the Sergeant has no right to admit access to the police to private offices.

So they were, definitely, committing a crime.

Are the police to be held responsible for their actions, or are they above the law?

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@myself, put BBC higher in your RSS list.

Coppers say different, oh deary me.

From the text of the actual letter sent by Inspector Knacker to Jackboot Smith* :

"Section 8 (1) of the Police and Criminal Evidence Act as amended permits a Justice of the Peace to issue a warrant authorising a constable to enter and search premises where satisfied on application by a constable that there are reasonable grounds for believing: "

...

"e) That any of the conditions specified in sub section 3 applies in relation to each set of premises specified. "

...

"c) That entry to the premises will not be granted unless a warrant is produced. "

"The effect of the condition in subsection 3 (c) is that a Justice of the Peace may not issue a search warrant under section 8 if he/she believes entry to the premises will be granted without a warrant (ie by consent). As there was no basis for submitting to a JP that it was believed that consent would be refused, it was considered that it was not open to a constable to make an application."

...

"The officers explained the nature of the investigation and the purpose of the search and were satisfied that the Serjeant at Arms understood that police had no power to search in the absence of a warrant and therefore could only do so with her written consent or that of the Speaker."

Double ouchies all around then, that's Gorbals Mick out of a job for telling porkies to the house, surely.

*http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk_politics/7765081.stm

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Gob-smacked

Did nobody present think to ask the police if they had a warrant? Has no-one in Westminster ever watched a police drama? It also appears that the Serjeant-at-arms signed a document she hadn't read! Utter incompetence all round, it would seem - in other words, business as usual. sigh.

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How did we get here?

To a place where there is no practical difference between the Serjeant-at-Arms of the Palace of Westminster and a monkey in manpants waving the police inside to pursue its "operational independence" wherever and whenever it wants. Ideology - as long as tories bleat on about free market liberalisms, they will attract those for whom communitarianism is the left hand which feeds the com-pen-say-shun cultured rights hand into a deadly symbiosis of gerrymandering spending and electoral nu labour votes. Waging war on isms is a necessary but not sufficient condition.

This issue is being used to obfuscate the core of the problem - ACPO, and its relationship to/with the Home Office. The intimate details of this relationship should be made public. For example, the doctrine of "operational independence" includes chief constables being able to sell police services to corporate clients and retain the profits, and this income is growing. What makes this particular fascist trend insidious is that "operational independence" is such a wonderful marketing slogan - pithy yet signifiying whatever anyone wants it to mean.

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Flame

This is infuriating

"Critics of the police are asking whether this was simple oversight..."

Oh well, if it was simple oversight then no harm no foul.

I wonder how well the simple oversight excuse would hold up from OUR perspective. "Sorry I was speeding officer, simple oversight"

Fuck that, fuck them and fuck this fucking fascist country. I'm gone.

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Bronze badge

So who is responsible?

Like so much else that goes on these days, nobody seems to be responsible for what happened.

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Bronze badge

Don't count on it

"The problem for the police is that the next government may well not be Labour... Over the last decade, it has been the Tories who have tended to be more critical of police requests for added powers..."

Well, obviously: because the Tories have been in opposition.

Is there any reason to suppose that they will have much interest in civil liberties if and when they come to power?

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Stop

@Mark

No, it's you who are wrong, much as I wish you weren't.

They didn't need anybody's permission because they had already arrested Damian Green on suspicion of a criminal offence. The right to search any place used by the arrested person, which may have been used to commit the criminal offence, exists WITHOUT a warrant. It is a proviso specifically put into PACE by the Tory government which introduced it and it trumps any law regarding trespass.

I suggest you try reading PACE. You may not like it, but it is currently the law.

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Thumb Down

Police tactics in the UK....

sound like the old Soviet bloc policing systems.

Glad I live in Canada.

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Joke

Old chickens

Quarter of a century old, coal-mining chickens coming home to roost.

I hope the entire British middle class choke to death on the feathers.

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Unhappy

@"Nothing to hide..."

"If you have nothing to hide, you have nothing to worry about."

I hope you're being sarcastic.

http://www.cato.org/raidmap/

http://www.drugwar.com/oopswrong.shtm

http://stopthedrugwar.org/chronicle_blog/2007/sep/13/wrong_door_drug_raid_disrupts_fa

http://seattlepi.nwsource.com/local/50450_assets13.shtml

http://icnewcastle.icnetwork.co.uk/0100news/0100local/page.cfm?objectid=11018615&method=full

http://www.threedworld.com.au/music/news/2003/Riot_Police_Raid_Businessmans_40th_Birthday_Bash/

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-455037/Armed-police-raid-home-mistaking-Lara-Croft-dummy-gunman.html

http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/26079096/?GT1=43001/

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1032794/Pictured-The-terrifying-moment-armed-police-held-innocent-man-train-gun-head.html

http://www.thestar.co.uk/news/Bungling-police-raid-OAP39s-house.2183918.jp

http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/uk_news/5068500.stm

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/uknews/2707313/Police-handcuff-innocent-woman-in-raid-on-the-wrong-home.html

http://www.guardian.co.uk/uk/2005/jul/29/menezes.markhonigsbaum

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Coat

@Jonathan

Jonathan wrote: Its a pity that the police dont spend more time catching thugs, yobs and gangsters and less time enforcing Labour's political will.

Hey, we'll soon have the situation they had in the Soviet Union: two police forces, one for criminals and one for politicals, and two jail systems,.

This is what comes of a large, but by no means overwhelming, section of the population believing the words of a wolf-grinning "straight sort of guy" in 1997.

Honest,guv, I didn't, there's my voting form in the pocket to prove it.

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@AC

Well, I suppose you're right. Actually, though it's illegal to break into your house, criminals still do it.

The police barging in is no different except the police think they have the right. Doesn't mean they do.

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"Arrested on suspcion of a criminal act"

IIRC they got in on a common law that had been repealed recently, not PACE. Also, if you can be arrested on suspicion of criminal act then they can arrest you at any time. They don't have to HAVE anything other than the suspicion and they arrest you and therefore, since they arrested you, they get to raid your house?

No, I suspect if you look at the law, that won't be the case. And if it is, then you can contest it and it will be upheld: the arresting power was to arrest you when they are arresting you for a criminal act, NOT when they arrest you for the suspicion of such. They can't arrest you and say "We arrest you on suspicion of criminal acts" they have to tell you "We arrest you on this criminal act". And then you can assert your innocence. You can't assert innocence for THEIR ***suspicion***, can you.

So the reading of the law in that case would be incorrect and overturned as not being lawful. Meanwhile S@A refuses them entry or, if the MP had time, the MP could have had them thrown out. If the police wanted to stay they would have to show the warrant. The police can only stay after the MP had let them in or let them stay. Not the Sergeant.

The problem is that you get arrested for resisting arrest, which is dead bent: if they can't arrest you for something, then you should resist arrest. If they can arrest you for something, why arrest again for resisting arrest?

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