Monthly Archives: March 2007

No discipline for officers in Mikey Powell case

No discipline for officers in Mikey Powell case
Family’s comments to follow…
Source: IPCC
The Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) has confirmed that none of the West Midlands police officers acquitted of criminal offences following the death of Michael Powell, 38, in police custody on 7 September 2003 are to face disciplinary charges. The IPCC has criticised important aspects of the police handling of the incident leading to Powell’s death, which started when Mrs Clarissa Powell, his mother, called for police assistance at her home, and urged the force to ensure that key lessons are fully implemented.
Ten officers faced a range of charges covering dangerous driving, assault and misconduct in a public office at Leicester Crown Court last July and in August all ten were acquitted. The majority of charges were dismissed as ‘no case to answer’ on the direction of the judge when he disallowed crucial prosecution evidence of the transcript from the custody CCTV audio as being unsafe to rely upon because of its extremely poor quality.
Commenting on his decision IPCC Commissioner for the West Midlands region John Crawley said; “This has been a very lengthy and deeply painful experience for all involved. Having had responsibility for this case for some three years now, with extensive contact with the family of Michael Powell, I am only too well aware of the gravity of the matters at stake, the suffering of Michael’s family and the dignified endurance and unfailing courtesy of the family as a too lengthy process has unfolded. Their sense of loss is as acute today as the day Michael died.
“I am also conscious that for the officers involved, all of them suspended for a very long time, followed by a lengthy criminal trial, this has been a deeply traumatic time. “The evidence for any misconduct (discipline) hearing would be essentially the same as that considered at the trial, and I have examined the findings and outcome of the trial very carefully indeed. I am satisfied that in this particular case – and given the weaknesses in the evidence against the officers that the rigour of the criminal process exposed – their acquittals should suffice in terms of the formal accountability properly expected from these police officers.
“I am confident that the leadership of the force is committed to learning and change from the important lessons that this case has identified. Central to this is the challenge of demonstrating real progress in better management of serious incidents where mental ill health is likely to be a key factor. The force has done much over the last two years to improve its formal policies and procedures; now it needs to be able to highlight the better results on the ground, including improved training of officers.
“This case also demonstrates – and it is by no means an isolated example in this regard – that there is also much scope for improved supervision of front line officers by their supervisors when they are involved in an escalating incident to ensure that all sources of available information – including crucially from family members – are identified and the right questions asked before critical decisions are taken.
“Finally, I cannot stress too highly the importance the IPCC attaches to proper investment in high quality CCTV systems in all police custody suites – an essential protection for officers as well as detainees, as this case has so unhappily revealed.
We live in a time when CCTV is very widely deployed – and assumed to be – as a crucial source of evidence and protection in public open spaces. We still have too many custody suites, where people are detained, where there is no – or seriously inadequate – CCTV; the public will not understand why this continues to be the case. The IPCC is committed to pursuing this issue to achieve national standards of coverage and quality.”

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How cheap are lives?

Al Jazeera reports (28/3/2007) of the mass killing of Africans who were pushed from a smugglers’ boat. People were beaten if they resisted, women were raped by the smugglers.
The commemoration of the ending of slavery is somewhat premature, but even that is being questioned with the main focus being on white abolitionists. As Gus John points out the writing of black people out of history continues apace.

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New Labour at the trough

Today we learn that Blunkett, New Labour, has joined a firm tendering for an ID card contract. Not only do New Labour adherents trash the idea of socialism, they live it out their elitist philosophies in spades. Do you remember Philip Gould, another Blair acolyte who seemed to have dissolved away? Well he has been busy, very busy, helping Tesco to get planning applications over the whole of Britain, if not actually for it, in their back pocket.
Major’s government became notorious for its links with big business, but Blair’s circle is quite capable of matching this big time. I remember Lord Tom Sawyer, outspoken on NHS issues (and Blair incidentally), joined Reed Health who make a killing on supplying agency staff to the cash strapped NHS. These were not just nurses, but staff at all levels.

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So what’s the point in being a member of the Labour Party?

It’s the paid officers who now decide who will be a candidate at local and national elections. And look at the crap they’ve served up! Sandwell Ward used to be a place where you could have lively debate, have speakers, affiliate to radical organisations and invite dynamic speakers. Now we’ve had our balls cut off. Meetings are now informal until after the elections. So what’s the point? Paid officers presumable are paid by our subscriptions, so that’s all right then, we can pay our money over – now £36 per annum and keep quiet.
I was watching Question Time on Iraq last night and Des Browne was the government spokesperson. John Bolton was on line from America and the two did a double act. A far right – as far as you can get – mouthpiece of the discredited Bush administration and his poodle. Tony Benn spoke eloquently and passionately but all Bolton could do was dismiss his arguments with “Mr Benn is not worth replying to.”

The Officers of The Birmingham Labour Party have nothing to add to the statement.

Keith Hanson kindly sent me this exchange (not) explaining why the Labour candidate for Handsworth Wood is being imposed. Members were sent a letter by Keith saying that if 20% wanted a selection then that would happen. Around 80 out of 130 eligible said they did. Now the Birmingham Labour Party, no doubt egged on by Keith, says they can’t do what the members asked. The argument is becoming complicated and taking on an ethnic dimension. It is really quite simple: that party members do not expect there to be impositions unless there is an urgent need to do so. The sitting councillor has been in place for three years and has been quite happy to go on without ward meetings over this period. Formerly councillors reported back to members at monthly meetings.Handsworth Wood Ward members were told by Keith, who was present at the last meeting (I wasn’t) that all ward meetings were informal until after the May elections, so it is impossible to conduct business like introducing resolutions etc! There’s democracy for you: Here we go….
“The Officers of The Birmingham Labour Party have nothing to add to the statement.”

Keith Hanson,
Regional Officer,
West MIdlands Region,
Labour Party.

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British soldier fired for being injured

The Independent reports on the fate of a British soldier who was victim of a roadside bomb (18/3/2007). The diagnosis of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder has been dismissed by the military and he has been dismissed from the army as bing “temperamentally unsuitable”.
At a time when we thought that the horrifying effects of war on those individuals was beginning to be understood, there are pockets of resistance. The military establishment continues to be in a state of denial. What the Government is saying or doing about it is deafening in the silence. Only now is it safe enough to pardon men shot as traitors in World War 1.
“The young man is a striking illustration of the unprecedented levels of mental health problems being suffered by soldiers who have served in Iraq and Afghanistan. Many complain of feeling discarded and betrayed. Experts are predicting a mental health ‘time bomb’, with thousands more veterans expected to experience severe problems first identified as ‘shell shock’ during the First World War.
Thousands of British soldiers wounded in Iraq and Afghanistan are living in virtual poverty back in the UK because their compensation payments have been delayed, in some cases by up to three years.”
Source: Independent 18/3/2007.

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New Labour sold its soul.

All the serious Sunday papers today (11/3/2007) lead with the scandal of medical care for troops wounded in one of Blair’s wars. Although we’re spending millions this clearly isn’t enough to do one, let alone two jobs properly. I’m not saying I think the troops should be there in the first place. They ain’t there in my name! But expecting them to be effective without sufficient or effective equipment – lack of protective clothing for example is – can’t think of an appropriate word – disastrous?
Now we hear that seriously wounded soldiers in Birmingham’s Selly Oak Hospital lack proper care. Indeed relatives have been telling the Observer about unbelievable incidents that have occurred. It appears that care is only part time. The Independent talks about those traumatised by their unimaginable experiences but it is left to families to care for depression and nightmares.
New Labour. Not what I joined. Record numbers in prison including vulnerable women and children, some committing self harm daily and a large number dying as a result. Some of these institutions are privatised. So our taxes are going into providing profits for businesses. Staff are probably on low pay and inexperienced in caring for people with multiple problems.
Ditto health and education.Blair doesn’t want to go without a legacy, and that won’t be socialism. More Academies funded by businesses, more companies making a profit on people’s misfortunes. Just don’t be ill.
Then there’s gambling. Suddenly as a new super casino is announced someone pipes up about the damage of people – those least able to afford it – getting hooked.
We now see destitute people on the streets. The presumption is that they don’t deserve help, that they are there to get hand outs from a generous state. This week a young child knocked at my door asking for money. The little girl didn’t speak any English so I couldn’t ask her about herself or her family.
There is apparently unlimited funding for the armaments in the U.K. and U.S.A. And they want to commit billions on a Trident replacement.

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Cinema reveals – or hides – the past.

The cinema can be as revealing as it is selective in its portrayal of historic events. A French film opens up the Algerian past to show how many supported France against the Nazis in World War 2. This wasn’t the first time they had come out in support of the colonial power, just as those from Africa and the Caribbean supported their British rulers and oppressors.
That cinema is still capable of distorting and denying history was demonstrated by Clint Eastwood’s film about Iwo Jima, which failed to show black American presence, yet has still gone forward to acclaim somehow. The pains Eastwood apparently took to ensure authenticity about the Japanese involvement seems to have eluded him with regard to the black American presence.
The film “Days of Glory” brings back memories of Franz Fanon and Albert Camus, two hugely significant writers on the colonial experience and depths of racism. Fanon himself volunteered to fight in France, was wounded and awarded the Croix de Guerre. Albert Camus‘ father had fought for France in Word War 1, Camus himself joined the French resistance.

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Ghana celebrates 50 years of independence

Ghana is celebrating 50 years of independence from the British, a fact brought to my attention by Al Jazeera (6/3/2007). I had not noticed it in the British media.
Ghana was the first Sub-Saharan country in Africa to get independence. It is a democracy, but that’s not the end of Ghana’s or other African states’ problems:
“We have a viable, multi-party democracy in Ghana today. But the problem in Africa is that democracy does not feed the people”
Gamal Nkrumah, son of Ghana’s first president
In spite of poverty existing, huge sums are being spend on a year-long celebration to which prominent politicians and celebrities have been invited. This includes Mbeki and Mugabe, and Jesse Jackson is a guest from the U.S.

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