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Old 02-08-11, 12:42   #1
Super Badnik
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Thumbs down Metropolitan Police target Anarchists

Quote:
Originally Posted by The Guardian
The Metropolitan police initiated an embarrassing climbdown after a police station in Belgravia, west London, published a leaflet asking the public and businesses to report anyone with anarchist sympathies.

The call for information on a political rather than criminal group echoed a similar appeal for information about al-Qaida activity and "could have been better worded", Scotland Yard admitted.

City of Westminster police's "counter-terrorist focus desk" had last week called for anti-anarchist whistleblowers, stating next to an anarchist emblem: "Anarchism is a political philosophy which considers the state undesirable, unnecessary and harmful, and instead promotes a stateless society, or anarchy. Any information relating to anarchists should be reported to your local police."

The move angered some anarchists who insisted that being an anarchist does not imply criminal behaviour.

After 24 hours trying to discover why the counter-terrorism desk at Belgravia police station had issued the injunction under the banner of Project Griffin, an initiative raising awareness of counter-terrorism and security issues among business, public sector and security personnel, Scotland Yard said: "The Metropolitan police service does not seek to stigmatise those people with legitimate political views.

"People purporting to be anarchists have caused criminal damage this year to business premises, and government buildings in Westminster. The message we were trying to convey was to gather information on criminal acts to help us prevent crime and bring offenders to justice."
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So I guess dissent is ok as long as its in some far away middle eastern country.
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Old 02-08-11, 13:25   #2
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Ridiculous... I'm sure plenty of people--most, in fact--who commit crimes would consider themselves part of some "legitimate" political party--or would have "legitimate" political views. Do their criminal actions then mean that all others with "legitimate" political views should be investigated, or reported by their fellow citizens?
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Old 02-08-11, 13:31   #3
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******** politics and the leaders
all they care and target is how much longer can they stay in their positions and steal people's money.

This is everywhere
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Old 02-08-11, 15:41   #4
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Hmmm. . . so, these are "orderly anarchists?"

Seems to me that a lack of law and order is implied in the term "anarchy". One can justify using the term if one reaches deep into the dictionary, but it's sort of like insisting the swastika is really a Buddhist symbol. That's just not what it means for the vast majority of people.
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Old 02-08-11, 16:26   #5
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At the heart of this seems to be the question "Is the police allowed to discriminate?"
The answer is of course "no", as we can read back in the constitutions of many, many countries.

In the Netherlands, the police is not allowed to register ethnicity* as this could be construed as or lead to discrimination based on ethnicity. It could, however, allow the police to act more efficiently. Crime figures simply can and do vary among groups. The clear majority of criminal acts committed in the Netherlands, is committed by young men of a certain known ethnicity. Similarly, I don't have the figures, but I don't find it a stretch to believe that crime figures also vary significantly among political beliefs.

Should the police use every legitimate cue of criminal behaviour to fight it? If so, do statistics create legitimate cues? If 99,9% of Zawockians in the Netherlands commit a crime, is the police allowed to target Zawockians specifically - i.e. discriminate against them based on country of origin?

The answer is of course, still "no". The police is not allowed to discriminate, not even when discrimination is "valid". I can see perfectly well how this can be frustrating, particularly for the policemen themselves, such as those at the Metropolitan, but it's not something we should even want to get around.

*) In some instances, but I don't recall the exact details.

tl;dr: Yeah, that was wrong of them to do.
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Last edited by Punaxe; 02-08-11 at 18:52.
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Old 03-08-11, 10:27   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Punaxe View Post
Should the police use every legitimate cue of criminal behaviour to fight it? If so, do statistics create legitimate cues? If 99,9% of Zawockians in the Netherlands commit a crime, is the police allowed to target Zawockians specifically - i.e. discriminate against them based on country of origin?
But what kind of action do you mean by "discriminating" and "targeting"? Is, for example, monitoring internet forums of a certain political philosophy or a certain cultural identity because of a clear correlation between it and the crime rate already "discriminating"?
You can never justify preventative action as well as you can justify punitive action, because you have no real crime to point your finger at. But police have to prevent as much as punish (I'd say this is actually much more important) and they shouldn't discard clues simply because it's "discriminating" to do so.
The real, important lines are, how visible police action is, and how much it violates someone's privacy - the above example of monitoring publicly accessible forums in the name of prevention is fine in my book, intercepting private messages of innocent people isn't.
I can't really comment further because I'm not sure what actions you meant by "discriminating" but I guess my point it, if it's passive, non-intrusive monitoring that doesn't disrupt innocent people's lives then it's probably fine (just to be clear here though, plonking CCTV everywhere doesn't really count as "probably fine" ).

So for the original link in the OP, I think it's dangerous, and completely uncalled for. It intimidates people with valid political views (and damages freedom of speech and opinion in the long run), and potentially makes other people wary and suspicious of them, which is fear mongering of the type you'd rather expect from authoritarian communist governments from the past. Personally I'm very twitchy about freedom of speech, and it saddens me to see police (who I think should be treated with respect) resorting to something low like this.
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Old 03-08-11, 12:40   #7
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I think what's most embarrassing about this story is that the leaflets are published by a police station in Belgravia. They're not going to get anyone who will read them around there, and most of the staff of any household probably don't know any English. The embassies won't be interested in that, and the businesses will be too busy about it. Waste of the taxpayer money really.
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Old 05-08-11, 19:52   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Forwen View Post
But what kind of action do you mean by "discriminating" and "targeting"? Is, for example, monitoring internet forums of a certain political philosophy or a certain cultural identity because of a clear correlation between it and the crime rate already "discriminating"?
You can never justify preventative action as well as you can justify punitive action, because you have no real crime to point your finger at. But police have to prevent as much as punish (I'd say this is actually much more important) and they shouldn't discard clues simply because it's "discriminating" to do so.
The real, important lines are, how visible police action is, and how much it violates someone's privacy - the above example of monitoring publicly accessible forums in the name of prevention is fine in my book, intercepting private messages of innocent people isn't.
I can't really comment further because I'm not sure what actions you meant by "discriminating" but I guess my point it, if it's passive, non-intrusive monitoring that doesn't disrupt innocent people's lives then it's probably fine (just to be clear here though, plonking CCTV everywhere doesn't really count as "probably fine" ). (...)
What you say seems to make a lot of sense, but on the other hand, it appears to be a form of "it's okay as long as people don't know about it" (I'm sure the English have a shorter version of that expression, but I don't know it. ). If monitoring a certain political forum is okay, is it also okay to send someone to a real-life meeting of people with a similar political ideology? It's the same thing, except for the visibility aspect, which you say is key.

When it's about discrimination, it's not about how visibile it is, or how invasive it is - it's about how discriminatory it is. I wouldn't be one to quickly complain, because I too believe prevention trumps punishment and am all for using valid cues, but I do think monitoring a forum of foreigners is wrong, just as it is wrong to send a policeman to a meeting of Islamists just to make sure nobody's exchanging any bomb blueprints, depending of course on the reason: If it's based only on the Islam-bomb or foreigner-crime correlation, this is strictly speaking discriminatory, and it doesn't matter if it's visible or not.

And that's what I meant by discriminating: Taking any action based purely on religious or ethnic (and correlated) information. In our society, just being a foreigner is not enough to warrant a police investigation, even if every single person of your country that the police has seen so far is a criminal. They may say "we shall investigate everyone travelling to and from Zawockia", but they may not say "we shall investigate everyone who is a Zawockian".
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Last edited by Punaxe; 05-08-11 at 19:54.
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Old 11-08-11, 23:53   #9
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I remembered this thread while I was reading about the riots. Out of curiosity, are the anarchists involved in the rioting? I'm thinking that maybe the police had some suspicion about the upcoming riot (although were tactless in how they tried to prevent it).
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Old 12-08-11, 09:52   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ward Dragon View Post
I remembered this thread while I was reading about the riots. Out of curiosity, are the anarchists involved in the rioting? I'm thinking that maybe the police had some suspicion about the upcoming riot (although were tactless in how they tried to prevent it).
No, the riots weren't organised by any group, like pretty much all riots.
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