Monthly Archives: December 2013

Islington Data Breach

The revelations about the extent of surveillance actions in which the British Government are involved are breathtaking.
Nationally, and Internationally, citizens are spied on to an extent the Stasi could only have dreamed about.
The culture of intrusive investigation, especially covert operations, permeates down to all level, with RIPA investigations carried out against ordinary law-abiding residents by organisations and local authorities.
Nowhere in the UK has the appetite for surveillance been greater than in Labour-run Islington.
Islington Council are obsessed with spying on it’s residents.
The Labour Councillors who run Islington have invested in saturation CCTV coverage at huge expense, draining money that could be used for crime prevention, detection or essential services.
They have employed an army of snoopers and investigators, checking up on the residents they are meant to be serving.
Sometimes this is sheer squandering of money, like the ill-fated and utterly useless “dog squad”.
Often it is a policy introduced without warning or consultation, , like the bin-snoopers who enforce the unloved and ineffective compulsory recycling policy.
It is usually unpopular, like the roaming CCTV vehicles which park illegally in order to catch out and fine other motorists.
It includes sending “undercover” Council officers into private gay clubs, and when they are chatted up or touched up, they report back in salacious detail to Labours “Crime Chief” until his “toes curl”.
Not that the. Councillors leave it entirely to officers – Councillor Convery prowls the streets, checking people’s garden boxes and ripping up plants that look like cannabis.
Labour Councillors are also happy to go on “fact-finding” investigations with local police to the Emirate Stadium, when arsenal are playing a tasty European fixture.
Children are recruited- minors being sent in to shops, provided with money and instructions to try and buy knives,alcohol or tobacco in entrapment techniques to catch out small shopkeepers.
Planning committees are instructed to ensure all new developments incorporate CCTV,notwithstanding evidence that residents living under constant camera coverage actually feel less safe.
Licensing committees insist on CCTV in all pubs and clubs, and Labour Councillors chairing those meetings have voted to reward themselves by introducing new “allowances” worth £5k p.a.
Small licensed shops get visits from Council Officers and are invited to “informal” meetings at the Town Hall with police officers present, to “persuade” them to “voluntarily” install CCTV. Unlike formal Licensing meetings, which are held in public, these “chats” are private meetings. I attended one to support a local shop-keeper in my capacity as ward Councillor, but only under a gagging order which prohibits me from talking about or reporting the details of that meeting.

    Breach

Unfortunately, having collected and retained so much data, the Council is woefully slack on safeguarding it.
One notorious breach of data protection occured in xxxx, when residents who had provided confidential witness statements had their names address and personal information published online.
Very soon after, a further breach led once again to publication of private data.
Some of the residents resorted to legal action, and have now been compensated. They also received as part of the settlement letters of apology- these of course were not signed by any of the Councillors.
There will inevitably be further breaches as Islingtonians continue to be monitored.
In authoritarian Islgton, everything is either compulsory or prohibited.

Cycle deaths in London

I attended a demo outside TFL HQ on Blackfriars Road, to highlight the sad cases of recent cycling fatalities in London, and the failure of Boris/TFL to take proper budgetary action to improve cycling safety.
Thousands of cyclists laid down their bikes and lay in the road in a symbolic gesture described as a “die-in” by the organisers, an informal group who set up the Stop the Killing protest
The concerns will not go away- and pressure is building on Boris to act.
There is a lot of anti-cycling sentiment out there, for which some cyclist behaviour does not help, but ultimately cyclists are vulnerable and it is time to stop blaming cyclists for the fatal accidents or incidents where they are seriously injured, and work to make London a safer, more cyclist-friendly environment.
A similar argument (but much better written) is made here by Caroline Russell of Living Streets
cycling playlist here

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A postcard to Mr Clegg

In 2013, as requested by Save UK Justice campaign, I wrote a postcard to Nick Clegg, the then Deputy PM in the Coalition Government, and helped deliver a batch of over 3000 similar such postcards.

Lib Dem policy as approved at  party Conference, supported Legal Aid.

Dear Mr Clegg,

You are the Leader of the Liberal Democrat Party, currently in Government in coalition with the Conservatives.

That Party is committed to savage, damaging and unsustainable cuts.
Your Party, to its credit and in stark contrast, has declared a Policy to support Legal Aid.
What are you, as Leader, going to do about it?
Yours sincerely,

Greg Foxsmith”. (Together with 3000+ other postcards and the Save Justice UK Campaign)
We finally received an answer from Clegg -published  by SaveJusticeUK here
The  response was woefully inadequate, sloppy, fatuous and factually incorrect. It was worse than a brush-off-it was a calculated insult. There were still some good people in the Lib-Dems, but it was now clear they needed to examine their consciences, and either change their leader, or change their party. They did not manage the former, although many did the latter, and the Lib Dems were decimated in the post-Coalition election of 2015.

Now, at the Lib Dem Conference (September 2016) the Lib Dems pass a motion “regretting” the legal Aid bonfire. (This regret is seemingly not shared by the ghastly Lord McNally, Lib-Dem minister and sidekick to Chris Grayling, who (along with Simon Hughes) should carry much  of the blame)

Sadly for those who support legal aid (and more importantly those who need it) this expression of regret by the Party Conference  comes  too late. Nick Clegg cannot say they were not warned.

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legal aid playlist
postcards-for-justice

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Notes
1 I attended Lib Dem HQ in November, representing the LCCSA, to help deliver the thousands of save Legal Aid postcards as part of the postcard campaign organised by SaveJusticeUk.
Also attending from Islington was Ruth Hayes, (pictured with me outside LD HQ in photo above) from Islington Law Centre.
Ruth told me “the Law Centre knows the importance of Legal Aid to vulnerable clients, who without it will be denied justice. We are particularly concerned about the impact of the Residence Test, and changes to funding for Judicial Review.”
2 see also opinion piece in Lib Dem Voice here.)
There was also advice to act quickly from Lib Dem Lawyers -and we all know what happens to people who ignore legal advice….

War Child

This month (December 2013) I ran the Santa Run (10k dressed as Santa) for the brilliant charity War Child
A fantastic charity, and what better time to support their work helping the children who are victims of war than in the run up to Christmas, as we in the privileged West indulging in our annual orgy of consumption and consumerism would do well to remember.
I may have completed the race, but it’s not too late to sponsor me!
So be of good cheer, and don’t be a Scrooge- please sponsor me for this years Santa race to help the work of War Child.

It’s a great fundraiser, and a really fun event in which to participate or take part. It’s a surreal site to see so many Santas sprinting off , all raising money for good causes. I completed last years race in Greenwich which I ran for Greenpeace) ,and I’m looking forward to Santa Dash 2015!
Below are some photos from last years race, and this years event in Victoria Park.

Playlist of music recorded for WarChild

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