European News


The 48 Organizations That Now Have Access To Every Brit’s Browsing History

big-brother-1984

27th Nov 2016

Last week, in a troubling development for privacy advocates everywhere, we reported that the UK has passed the “snooper charter” effectively ending all online privacy. Now, the mainstream media has caught on and appears to be displeased. As AP writes today, “after months of wrangling, Parliament has passed a contentious new snooping law that gives authorities — from police and spies to food regulators, fire officials and tax inspectors — powers to look at the internet browsing records of everyone in the country.”

For those who missed our original reports, here is the new law in a nutshell: it requires telecom companies to keep records of all users’ web activity for a year, creating databases of personal information that the firms worry could be vulnerable to leaks and hackers. Civil liberties groups say the law establishes mass surveillance of British citizens, following innocent internet users from the office to the living room and the bedroom. They are right.

While Edward Snowden previously blasted the law, none other than Tim Berners-Lee, the man credited with inventing World Wide Web, tweeted news of the law’s passage with the words: “Dark, dark days.”

Coming at a time when the mainstream media is lashing out at non-traditional websites, which it brands either with the derogatory “altright”, or simply slams as “Russian propaganda” to deflect from the fact that the MSM has been exposed as being a PR arm of the ruling establishment, the Investigatory Powers Bill-  called the “snoopers’ charter” by critics –  was passed by UK Parliament this month after more than a year of debate and amendments, and with its passage shifts “1984” from the fiction to the non-fiction section, as the formation of the surveillance police state is now effectively complete.

The charter will become law when it receives the formality of royal assent next week but – as AP notes – big questions remain about how it will work, and the government acknowledges it could be 12 months before internet firms have to start storing the records.

“It won’t happen in a big bang next week,” Home Office official Chris Mills told a meeting of internet service providers on Thursday. “It will be a phased program of the introduction of the measures over a year or so.”

The government says the new law “ensures powers are fit for the digital age,” replacing a patchwork of often outdated rules and giving law-enforcement agencies the tools to fight terrorism and serious crime.

In a move right out of the Soviet Union’s darkest days (which never even imagned central planning to the extent that modern “developed market” central bankers have unleashed this decade), the law requires telecommunications companies to store for a year the web histories known as internet connection records — a list of websites each person has visited and the apps and messaging services they used, though not the individual pages they looked at or the messages they sent.

The government has called that information the modern equivalent of an itemized phone bill. But critics say it’s more like a personal diary. Julian Huppert, a former Liberal Democrat lawmaker who opposed the bill, said it “creates a very intrusive database.”

“People may have been to the Depression Alliance website, or a marriage guidance website, or an abortion provider’s website, or all sorts of things which are very personal and private,” he said.

Officials won’t need a warrant to access the data, and the list of bodies that can see it includes not just the police and intelligence services, but government departments, revenue and customs officials and even the Food Standards Agency. “My worry is partly about their access,” Huppert said. “But it’s much more deeply about the prospects for either hacking or people selling information on.”

Even worse, the new law also makes official — and legal — British spies’ ability to hack into devices and harvest vast amounts of bulk online data, much of it from outside the U.K. In doing so, it both acknowledges and sets limits on the secretive mass-snooping schemes exposed by Edward Snowden.

* * *

Which government agencies have access to the internet history of any British citizen? Here is the answer courtesy of blogger Chris Yuo, who has compiled the list:

  • Metropolitan police force
  • City of London police force
  • Police forces maintained under section 2 of the Police Act 1996
  • Police Service of Scotland
  • Police Service of Northern Ireland
  • British Transport Police
  • Ministry of Defence Police
  • Royal Navy Police
  • Royal Military Police
  • Royal Air Force Police
  • Security Service
  • Secret Intelligence Service
  • GCHQ
  • Ministry of Defence
  • Department of Health
  • Home Office
  • Ministry of Justice
  • National Crime Agency
  • HM Revenue & Customs
  • Department for Transport
  • Department for Work and Pensions
  • NHS trusts and foundation trusts in England that provide ambulance services
  • Common Services Agency for the Scottish Health Service
  • Competition and Markets Authority
  • Criminal Cases Review Commission
  • Department for Communities in Northern Ireland
  • Department for the Economy in Northern Ireland
  • Department of Justice in Northern Ireland
  • Financial Conduct Authority
  • Fire and rescue authorities under the Fire and Rescue Services Act 2004
  • Food Standards Agency
  • Food Standards Scotland
  • Gambling Commission
  • Gangmasters and Labour Abuse Authority
  • Health and Safety Executive
  • Independent Police Complaints Commissioner
  • Information Commissioner
  • NHS Business Services Authority
  • Northern Ireland Ambulance Service Health and Social Care Trust
  • Northern Ireland Fire and Rescue Service Board
  • Northern Ireland Health and Social Care Regional Business Services Organisation
  • Office of Communications
  • Office of the Police Ombudsman for Northern Ireland
  • Police Investigations and Review Commissioner
  • Scottish Ambulance Service Board
  • Scottish Criminal Cases Review Commission
  • Serious Fraud Office
  • Welsh Ambulance Services National Health Service Trust

In other words, everyone.

* * *

While privacy groups unsucessfully battled to stop the new legislation, and now will challenge it in court, public opposition has been largely muted in part because the bill’s passage has been overshadowed by Britain’s vote to leave the European Union and the scandalous upheaval that has followed.

How did that old saying go… “don’t let a crisis go to waste.” Well, the UK is now independent from Europe, and in the process its population quietly lost all of its internet privacy.

Renate Samson, chief executive of the group Big Brother Watch, said it would take time for the full implications of the law to become clear to the public.

“We now live in a digital world. We are digital citizens,” Samson said. “We have no choice about whether or not we engage online. This bill has fundamentally changed how we are able to privately and securely communicate with one another, communicate with business, communicate with government and live an online life. And that’s a real, profound concern.”

It remains to be seen if the UK’s citizens will be able overturn the law once it does become clear to the public what has just happened.

 

source: http://www.zerohedge.com/news/2016-11-26/these-are-48-organizations-now-have-access-every-brits-browsing-history

Edward Snowden loses Norway safe passage case

edward-snow

27th Nov 2016

Edward Snowden’s bid to guarantee that he would not be extradited to the US if he visited Norway has been rejected by the Norwegian supreme court.

The former National Security Agency contractor filed the lawsuit in April, attempting to secure safe passage to Norway to pick up a free speech award.

It had already been rejected by Oslo District court and an appeals court.

Mr Snowden is a former NSA analyst who leaked secret US surveillance details three years ago.

As a result, he is facing charges in the US which could put him in prison for up to 30 years.

Mr Snowden’s lawyers have previously said if he were extradited to the US, it would be “a foregone conclusion” that he would be convicted and jailed.

Mr Snowden has been living in Russia, out of reach of the US authorities, since the leaks in 2013.

He had hoped to travel to Oslo to receive the Ossietzky Prize, for “outstanding efforts for freedom of expression”.

The award was due to be presented earlier this month.

But the Norwegian Supreme Court said it could not rule on the legality of any move to extradite Mr Snowden as the US had so far made no such request.

 

source:http://www.bbc.com/news/world-europe-38109167

‘Extreme surveillance’ becomes UK law with barely a whimper

yeah um

19th Nov 2016

A bill giving the UK intelligence agencies and police the most sweeping surveillance powers in the western world has passed into law with barely a whimper, meeting only token resistance over the past 12 months from inside parliament and barely any from outside.

The Investigatory Powers Act, passed on Thursday, legalises a whole range of tools for snooping and hacking by the security services unmatched by any other country in western Europe or even the US.

The security agencies and police began the year braced for at least some opposition, rehearsing arguments for the debate. In the end, faced with public apathy and an opposition in disarray, the government did not have to make a single substantial concession to the privacy lobby.

US whistleblower Edward Snowden tweeted: “The UK has just legalised the most extreme surveillance in the history of western democracy. It goes further than many autocracies.”

Snowden in 2013 revealed the scale of mass surveillance – or bulk data collection as the security agencies prefer to describe it – by the US National Security Agency and the UK’s GCHQ, which work in tandem.

But, against a backdrop of fears of Islamist attacks, the privacy lobby has failed to make much headway. Even in Germany, with East Germany’s history of mass surveillance by the Stasi and where Snowden’s revelations produced the most outcry, the Bundestag recently passed legislation giving the intelligence agencies more surveillance powers.

The US passed a modest bill last year curtailing bulk phone data collection but the victory of Donald Trump in the US presidential election is potentially a major reverse for privacy advocates. On the campaign trail, Trump made comments that implied he would like to use the powers of the surveillance agencies against political opponents.

The Liberal Democrat peer Lord Strasburger, one of the leading voices against the investigatory powers bill, said: “We do have to worry about a UK Donald Trump. If we do end up with one, and that is not impossible, we have created the tools for repression. If Labour had backed us up, we could have made the bill better. We have ended up with a bad bill because they were all over the place.

“The real Donald Trump has access to all the data that the British spooks are gathering and we should be worried about that.”

The Investigatory Powers Act legalises powers that the security agencies and police had been using for years without making this clear to either the public or parliament. In October, the investigatory powers tribunal, the only court that hears complaints against MI6, MI5 and GCHQ, ruled that they had been unlawfully collecting massive volumes of confidential personal data without proper oversight for 17 years.

One of the negative aspects of the legislation is that it fails to provide adequate protection for journalists’ sources, which could discourage whistleblowing.

One of the few positives in the legislation is that it sets out clearly for the first time the surveillance powers available to the intelligence services and the police. It legalises hacking by the security agencies into computers and mobile phones and allows them access to masses of stored personal data, even if the person under scrutiny is not suspected of any wrongdoing.

Privacy groups are challenging the surveillance powers in the European court of human rights and elsewhere.

Jim Killock, the executive director of Open Rights Group, said: “The UK now has a surveillance law that is more suited to a dictatorship than a democracy. The state has unprecedented powers to monitor and analyse UK citizens’ communications regardless of whether we are suspected of any criminal activity.”

Renate Samson, the chief executive of Big Brother Watch, said: “The passing of the investigatory powers bill has fundamentally changed the face of surveillance in this country. None of us online are now guaranteed the right to communicate privately and, most importantly, securely.”

Trump’s victory started speculation that, given his warm words for Vladimir Putin, he might do a deal with the Russian president to have Snowden sent back to the US where he faces a long jail sentence. Snowden has lived in Russia since leaking tens of thousands of documents to journalists in 2013.

But Bill Binney, a former member of the NSA who became a whistleblower, expressed scepticism: “I am not sure if the relationship a President Trump would have with President Putin would be bad for Snowden.

“In Russia, he would still be an asset that maybe Putin would use in bargaining with Trump. Otherwise, Snowden does have a large support network around the world plus in the US and Trump may not want to disturb that. Also, I think any move to get Snowden out of Russia and into US courts would also open up support for at least three other lawsuits against the US government’s unconstitutional surveillance.”

  • This article was amended on 19 November 2016. The act has not yet received royal assent, as stated in an earlier version.

 

source; https://www.theguardian.com/world/2016/nov/19/extreme-surveillance-becomes-uk-law-with-barely-a-whimper

BBC Plan to Counter ‘Christian Bias’ Could Include Broadcasting Muslim Call to Prayer

15th Nov 2016

The BBC is determined to press ahead with plans to increase its coverage of more religions, and could even broadcast the Muslim call to Friday prayers, thanks to concerns from within the corporation that its religious broadcasting is too biased towards Christianity.

Lord Hall of Birkenhead, director-general of the corporation, will invite religious leaders to take part in discussions on increasing multi-faith coverage, following the publication of a BBC report which claimed that there was currently a disproportionate amount of Christian coverage, compared with other faiths.

Lord Hall is also set to appoint a senior executive to the board of governors with a remit to draw up new programme ideas to complement the corporation’s current Christian output, The Times has reported. A BBC insider said that Lord Hall was determined to do more to more represent others.

“Faith is remarkably important. The BBC can and must do more to ensure that the important role faith plays is recognised and reflected in our programming,” a source said.

For years the BBC has come under fire for being biased against Christians and towards members of other faiths, Islam in particular.

A 2012 report by the New Culture Forum entitled ‘A Question of Attitude – the BBC and Bias Beyond News’ found that, while Christians were portrayed as laughable at best, violent extremists at worst by BBC programme-makers, the corporation went out of its way to paint Muslims, including Muslim extremists, in a moderate light.

In one example cited, a BBC drama depicted a peaceable Muslim being beheaded at the hands of Christian extremists.

The report noted: “It sometimes feels as if someone in the BBC has sent round a memo instructing programme makers to compensate for the negative publicity that inevitably attends the exposure of terrorist plots to murder large numbers of people by force-feeding the public whitewashed or positive images of Islam.

“Though no doubt well-meant, and carried out in the furtherance of community cohesion, this approach does not help moderate Muslims who have to contend with extremists, and risks nurturing suspicions of institutional bias.”

Religious leaders expected to be invited to the BBC’s discussions include Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby, Archbishop of Westminster Cardinal Vincent Nichols, and Chief Rabbi Ephraim Mirvis.

Harun Khan, the head of the Muslim Council of Britain (MCB), is also expected to attend as are Hindu and Sikh leaders.

Ibrahim Mogra of the MCB has suggested that the BBC could televise Friday prayers from a mosque, cover Eid, which marks the end of Ramadan, or show children attending Koranic lessons.

The move comes months after Aaqil Ahmed, former head of religion and ethics at the BBC, told a Commons committee that he had prepared a report for Lord Hall on the BBC’s religious output across TV and radio, which he claimed was biased toward Christianity.

“Christianity remains the cornerstone of our output and there are more hours dedicated to it than there are to other faiths,” he said.

In response, Christian group A Voice for Justice launched a petition calling for Aaqil Amhed “to be removed from office on the grounds of Islamic bias and clear disrespect for Christian belief.”

The petition text reasoned: “He has regularly commissioned documentaries displaying clear pro-Islamic bias, while calling into question fundamental tenets and teachings of Christianity, in such a way as to trivialise and undermine Christian faith.

“The UK is a Christian country […] our society [is] based upon Christian values.

“It is entirely right therefore that Christianity be given more airtime than the beliefs of minority groups, and that it should be treated with respect. In particular, Islam should not be singled out for special interest and presented as impliedly superior to Christianity.

“We therefore call on Lord Hall as Director General of the BBC to reject this misguided and overtly anti-Christian proposal, and for Aaqil Ahmed’s immediate removal from office.”

The petition has been signed by more than 13,000 people to date.

 

source; http://www.breitbart.com/london/2016/11/14/bbc-plan-counter-christian-broadcast-muslim-prayer/

Sweden opens first atheist cemetery to cater to growing non-religious population

true-evolution

22nd Oct 2016

A graveyard free of any religious symbols has been opened in Sweden to cater to the country’s growing number of atheists.

Josef Erdem, a teacher from Borlänge in central Sweden, first proposed the idea because he wanted people to “decide for themselves what their graves should look like”.

He said he had grown up in Kurdistan and as a result his worldview had been shaped by having friends from all walks of life.

He sent in the formal application for the ground after negotiating with local representatives of the Church of Sweden.

The church will maintain the graveyard but that will be the extent of their involvement with the cemetery.

Mr Erdem told The Local: “People can decide for themselves what their graves should look like, but the cemetery will be free of all religious and nationalist symbols.

“I’ve spoken to a lot of people about this, many of them religious, and the response has been overwhelmingly positive,” he said.

“In fact the reaction has been positive from religious and non-religious people alike across the country.”

He stressed that people of faith were welcome to be buried there as well so long as they accepted that they could not have the marks of their religion on their headstone.

The cemetery, which is close to the local church, is currently empty but several locals have expressed an interest in being buried there.

Local teacher Gunnar Lindgren told broadcaster SVT: “I don’t want a burial place with a stone that needs to be cared for. I also don’t want a church burial because I’m not a believer so this suits me”.

Sweden has the second-highest number of non-religious people as a percentage of its population of any country in the world, according to a 2015 survey by Gallup International and the WI Network of Market Research.

The study found that 76 percent of Swedish respondents said they were either “not religious” or a “convinced atheists”.

The only country to score higher was Communist-controlled China, where religion is officially frowned upon.

 

 

source:http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/europe/sweden-atheist-cemetery-opens-religion-church-of-sweden-a7371006.html

France bans the use of plastic crockery and cutlery to aid battle against climate change

suspicious

21st Sept 2016

Plastic crockery and cutlery is to be banned in France unless it is made from biologically sourced materials.

The law comes into force in 2020. It is part of a French environmental initiative called the Energy Transition for Green Growth, part of a package aimed at tackling climate change.

But, the Independent reported, the move faces a challenge from Pack2Go Europe, a Brussels-based organisation representing European packaging manufacturers.

“We are urging the European Commission to do the right thing and to take legal action against France for infringing European law,” said Eamonn Bates, secretary general of Pack2go Europe.

He said there was no proof that biologically sourced material was any more environmentally beneficial.

Mr Bates said the ban could make the litter problem worse because consumers would believe that packaging left in the countryside would be biodegradable.

The move against disposable cutlery and crockery is part of a growing trend to outlaw the use of plastic in several parts of the world.

Karnataka in India has banned the use of plastic across the entire state. San Francisco banned plastic shopping bags in 2007 and plastic water bottles on public properties in 2014. In Britain customers must pay 5p for each plastic bag.

 

 

source: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2016/09/17/france-bans-the-use-of-plastic-crockery-and-cutlery-to-aid-battl/

Russian public doesn’t trust monitors to make elections fair

hunger games china
17th Sept 2016
Less than half of all Russians think that the presence of monitors can make elections more honest and transparent, with a third of respondents holding that external monitoring has no effect at all.

According to the latest research made by the All-Russian Public Opinion Center (VTSIOM) only 43 percent of Russians think that the presence of observers at elections make them fairer, down from 49 percent in 2011. Thirty-four percent of those polled said that monitors’ participation in elections process had no effect whatsoever on its fairness, also down from 36 percent five years ago.

The share of those who said that in their opinion monitors were actually making elections less fair increased from 5 percent in 2011 to 8 percent. Some 15 percent of respondents said they could not give a direct answer to the question, also up from 10 percent five years back.

When researchers asked Russians what, in their opinion, the main motivation was of those who work as elections monitors, 30 percent said it was just a way to earn money, but 19 percent said they were driven by their pursuit of justice and fairness. Six percent answered that this was a way to exercise ‘an active civil position’, 3 percent hold that people who perform these functions are forced to do so, while a further 3 percent referred to unidentified “own interests.” One percent of poll participants said that observers were just killing their spare time, another 1 percent named various “other reasons”. A sizable 41 percent answered that they had no idea why people were working as elections monitors.

Of those polled, 6 percent said that they had previously worked as elections monitors and 94 percent have never performed such a function. At the same time, 18 percent said they were ready to become monitors in some polls in the future, 8 percent also agreed to participate, but only on condition that their work was supported by the state and the community. Some 70 percent answered that they would turn down such proposal.

Russia is holding parliamentary elections on Sunday, as well as a set of regional polls in which citizens would elect several regional and municipal heads and legislatures.

The head of Russia’s Central Elections Commission (CEC), Ella Pamfilova, has previously urged all political parties to send their representatives to monitor the polls in order to prevent any violations. In the same statement she warned civil servants about criminal responsibility for meddling with the voting process.

In July, representatives of the CEC told reporters that they had signed bilateral agreements with 27 nations, allowing their representatives to conduct monitoring at the forthcoming polls. They also said that albeit the United States was not among these countries, but invitations could be extended to US citizens on a personal basis.

Separate invitations have been extended to representatives of several major international blocs, such as the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS), the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO), the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO) and the OSCE’s Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR).

At the same time, the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) has been denied access to the State Duma elections because of the ongoing infringement of the rights of the Russian delegation in this group.

 

source: https://www.rt.com/politics/359191-public-in-russia-does-not/

Bayer to acquire Monsanto for $66B

MonsantoProtest

14th Sept 2016

By accepting Bayer’s offer, the largest cash acquisition proposal on record, Monsanto is set to give the German company a shot at grabbing the top spot in the fast-consolidating farm supplies industry, combining its crop science business with Monsanto’s strength in seeds.

Germany-based health and agricultural giant Bayer reached a deal to acquire seed and pesticide firm Monsanto for $66 billion in yet another jolt to a global agricultural sector that has been rocked by sluggish crop prices.

Bayer said Wednesday that it agreed to pay $128 per share in cash for St. Louis-based Monsanto after months of acquisition talks in which the pursuer sweetened its bid on multiple occasions.

Following a flurry of major deals in the ag sector, such as the tie-up of ag giants Dow Chemical and DuPont, regulatory scrutiny from the Obama administration and other governments could prove to be an obstacle for the Bayer-Monsanto accord.

But Bayer agreed to pay $2 billion if the deal collapses under anti-trust pressure, in what investors call a breakup fee. Bayer, which is financing the deal with a combination of its cash reserves and new debt, described the fee as reflective of “its confidence that it will obtain the necessary regulatory approvals.”

Monsanto shares (MON) rose 0.8% in pre-market trading to $106.90, falling well short of the deal price, possibly reflecting skepticism that the deal will be finalized.

The companies said they expect the deal to be finalized by the end of 2017.

“This represents a major step forward for our crop science business and reinforces Bayer’s leadership position as a global innovation driven life science company with leadership positions in its core segments, delivering substantial value to shareholders, our customers, employees and society at large,” Bayer CEO Werner Baumann said in a statement.

It was not immediately clear what would happen to Monsanto CEO Hugh Grant, who called the deal “a testament to everything we’ve achieved” and said it would create an “innovation engine.”

In 2015, the companies had combined revenue of 23 billion euros. They said they expect to save $1.5 billion in “synergies” within three years — a corporate term that typically includes cost costs and combined purchasing power.

The combined company’s seeds division and North American headquarters will be based in St. Louis. Its pesticide and crop science division will be based in Monheim, Germany. The company said it will also have “an important presence” in Durham, N.C., a digital farming business headquartered in San Francisco and many other operations.

Bayer said it’s too early to say whether job cuts will occur.

“Based on our preliminary analysis, and given the complementarity of the portfolios and geographic focus of both companies, we expect to maintain major sites in the U.S., as well as in Germany,” Bayer said.

 

 

source:http://www.usatoday.com/story/money/2016/09/14/bayer-monsanto-acquisition/90346412/

U-turn over spit hood pilot after City Hall fears

spithood

8th Sept 2016

A plan to pilot the use of spit hoods by the Met Police has been abandoned after London’s mayor voiced concerns.

The mesh fabric hoods are placed over the heads of suspects to protect police officers from being spat at or bitten.

The restraining device was to be trialled at 32 custody suites across the capital from October.

Mayor Sadiq Khan responded after human rights groups including Liberty, Amnesty and Inquest said the hoods belonged in “horror stories”.

A City Hall spokesman told the BBC the mayor asked the Met to pause the pilot scheme to give him an opportunity to look at the detail and to consult with the wider public as well as the police themselves.

‘Spitting a real problem’

In a statement, the Met said: “The Metropolitan Police Service (MPS) does not currently use spit guards, although their national use and development has been closely monitored for a number of years.

“There are now a number of forces where spit guards are used both operationally in response to incidents and in custody.

“The MPS has a duty of care to its officers and staff – the issue of spitting and biting is a real problem, particularly in a custody environment, and is a significant health risk.

“Over a number of years, the MPS has been looking at potential ways of minimising the threat this issue poses to officers and staff.

“One of the options that has been considered has been spit guards in custody suites.”

Earlier Martha Spurrier, director of Liberty, called the use of spit hoods “primitive, cruel and degrading ” adding their use would inspire “fear and anguish”.

“Police have the power to use force against citizens when they have to – using handcuffs, arm restraints, leg restraints, pepper spray, batons,” she said.

“The suggestion that officers need to be able to cover people’s faces and heads is as far-fetched as it is frightening.

“Spit hoods belong in horror stories, not on the streets of a civilised society – we urge the Met Police to think again.”

Image caption The spit hoods would be used in police custody suites

The Police Federation has called for the use of spit hoods to protect officers.

British Transport Police has used a hood 151 times since introducing them in June 2014.

The force is being investigated by the police watchdog over an incident where officers put a spit hood on a man at London Bridge in July.

Shamik Dutta, the solicitor representing the man who had the hood put on his head, said: “The application of a spit hood can be deeply distressing and humiliating, causing panic in the detained person.

“By obscuring someone’s face, the use of a spit hood can prevent witnesses, including police officers, from quickly identifying whether a person is suffering breathing difficulties, is choking or has suffered some other serious facial or head injury requiring immediate medical attention to avoid life-threatening consequences.”

‘Hand across mouth?’

Lord Adebowale, former chair of the commission on the Met Police’s response to mental health, said: “There is an awful trend of these devices being misused and being used in a way which tends to impact minority ethnic groups, those with mental health challenges, those with learning difficulties.”

He added he was concerned they could be used “in situations where the police may not be trained to deal with it”, leading to individuals being “forced into positions where breathing can be restrained”.

He also said it was a question of human dignity.

But former senior Met officer Hamish Brown, said: “What’s the other option? Putting a hand across someone’s mouth or a handkerchief in their mouth?

“It is pretty awful to have this, but unfortunately it’s the way society has gone. It is for the police to be sensible and use their discretion.”

A Met spokeswoman said officers would be trained to ensure use was proportionate, but added they were necessary “to meet the duty of care owed to officers when a detainee spits at or attempts to bite them”.

 

source:http://www.bbc.com/news/uk-england-london-37292125

UK police will soon start bagging people’s heads during arrests

liberty and police

8th Sept 2016

Metropolitan Police officers will soon be able to use specially designed bags, known as spit hoods, to cover suspects’ heads during arrests and in police stations.

The mesh bags are used to restrain suspects and protect the police from those who might try to bite or spit at them. The Met insists the hoods prevents exposure to diseases and serious infection.

In a pilot scheme starting in October, 32 custody units will receive material and training on how to use the “spit guards.” Their application on any suspect will be recorded under “use of force.”

Spit hoods are not to be used on the streets initially, so as not to incense the public, but detail on their use after the pilot scheme expires has not been provided.

The measure has been controversial with human rights groups, which have deemed the use of spit hoods “an alarming development” and as “cruel and degrading.”

The device may breach suspects’ rights, with some police chiefs suggesting the hoods resemble the trappings adopted at Guantanamo Bay. Even the Met was once opposed to them.

“A spit hood is a primitive, cruel and degrading tool that inspires fear and anguish,” said Liberty director Martha Spurrier.

“We have seen many cases where the police use them unnecessarily and without justification, including on children and disabled people.

“Police have the power to use force against citizens when they have to – using handcuffs, arm restraints, leg restraints, pepper spray, batons. The suggestion that officers need to be able to cover people’s faces and heads is as far-fetched as it is frightening. Spit hoods belong in horror stories, not on the streets of a civilized society. We urge the Met police to think again.”

Deborah Coles from legal charity Inquest echoed the sentiment.

“This is an alarming development with seemingly no debate or consultation and will do nothing to assist police and community relations,” she said.

“The use of a hood as a piece of police equipment is frightening and raises real concerns about its potential for misuse against the most vulnerable and discriminated against sections of society.”

The Police Federation, however, thinks the measure is necessary to protect its rank-and-file officers.

The police union’s health and safety representative, Che Donald, said: “I’d rather take a punch to the face than be spat at.”

He told the Guardian newspaper: “We do not deal with the most savory people. Hepatitis is prevalent within the drug abuse community. I don’t see it as a use of force, it is a health and safety issue.”

The risk of the hoods to arrestees, however, has been described as high by police monitoring groups.

“Every new piece of kit is always justified on the grounds of officer safety,” Kevin Blowe from the Network for Police Monitoring (Netpol) told RT.

“Yet again, there is no regard to the long history of violently misusing equipment against people with mental health issues and those who are routinely targeted by the police, particularly young people from minority communities.

“This is how very vulnerable people have died in police custody in the past. It happened with the introduction of CS spray, positional restraint techniques and Tasers. Our concern is that it’s only a matter of time before spit hoods are a contributor to another grieving family’s search for answers about the death of a loved one.”

Human rights charity Amnesty International said in a statement: “Spit hoods can restrict breathing, create disorientation and can be dangerous and extremely distressing. Serious questions must be asked as to whether these restraints which have been criticized for breaching human rights guidelines should actually have a role in modern British policing.

“It beggars belief that the Met police would choose to introduce these restraints in their toolkit, particularly given that so many other major British police forces have chosen to outlaw them.”

Until recently only smaller forces and the British Transport Police (BTP) used spit hoods.

 

 

source;https://www.rt.com/uk/358397-police-spit-guard-bags/