Friday, 29 June 2007

It would seem you do not have the right to remain silent

You know you always thought that you couldn’t be forced to incriminate yourself under English law – Well maybe you used to be right, but not any more... 'Cos that was then and this is now - Be afraid. Be very afraid.

Two anti speed camera campaigners, Idris Francis and Gerard O'Halloran, argued that the centuries-old right to silence should allow drivers to refuse to confirm to police who was at the wheel, as they would be being forced incriminating themselves.

They trustingly took their case to the European Court for Human Rights...

Unfortunately for them - and more worryingly, the rest of us - Judges at the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg voted by 15-2 to reject their case.

The court said: "The court did not accept the applicants' argument that the right to remain silent and the right not to incriminate oneself were absolute rights,"

Mr Francis said "In my view it is a perverse decision" "I am shocked and amazed."

"The fight for freedom goes on. We can't allow the tyrants, who are taking away our rights, to succeed. They have to be stopped."

Now if, as the court says, they are not rights in this case - will it be any different for other offences?

So maybe the pair should now sue the government under the Trade Descriptions Act. The police and Criminal Evidence Act lays down the following modern interpretation of the ‘right to silence’ also known as the "caution":

"You do not have to say anything but it may harm your defence if you do not mention now something you later rely on in court, Anything you do say may be given in evidence."

This is obviously now complete rubbish. It should read something more like:

”You do not have the right to silence and failing to disclose anything we want to know could result in your receiving a harsher sentence - if we can manage to find a jail cell for you.”

Probably wouldn’t work though, the court would probably argue it was naive to the point of idiocy to believe anything a politician promised you.

Now for the moment we shan’t even start to look at the erosion of the principal of ‘innocent until proven guilty’ lurking in the law relating to UK road tax brought in by Nu-Lab…

Government 'barking up wrong tree' with speed cameras

Sometimes the UK Government are so full of sh ‘it’ it just makes you want to weep! (Though this response will be by no means limited to just the UK government)

Paul Smith, of the Safe Speed Road Safety Campaign in the UK, started an e-petition to scrap so-called ‘road safety cameras’ - speed cameras or stealth taxation machines, to the average motorist.

It attracted over 28,000 signatures.

Nu-Labs response? Well basically they are not interested. You can read it all for yourself here.

They spin it like this say (pause for low-key dramatic music) ,“The facts are stark. If a child pedestrian is hit at 30mph they stand an 80% chance of surviving. But if they are hit at 40mph they stand an 80% chance of dying. That is why the Government is committed to achieving appropriate vehicle speeds on the roads as part of its integrated road safety strategy. “

OhKaaay… So how come so many of these ‘tax boxes’ are tucked in places that are difficult to spot on multi carriage 'A' roads and Motorways, where the speed limit is not 30 and where no one would be crossing and there would be no ‘if you hit me at 40’ little girls, or anyone else walking. They look, to the objective observer, rather more as if they have been placed to net as much money as possible.

Another point they are anxious to make is that: ”Safety cameras provide a valuable and cost-effective method of preventing, detecting and enforcing speed and traffic light offences. Very cost effective indeed - more like a massively profitable money spinning scheme! They net the state more than one billion pounds a year. They need to make up the loss of income on tobacco sales from somewhere.

Note the way they gratuitously lump the entirely different traffic light cameras in there because most people don’t have a quarrel with them - so you would have to be a bad irresponsible person who should be ashamed of themselves to object to them and they are ‘safety cameras’ too.

They go on: "Their use is based on solid evidence. All reliable research from around the world clearly demonstrates that cameras reduce speeds and save lives."

Not according to the governments own figures they don’t . Statistics released by the Department for Transport covering 2006 have led to serious questions about just how effective speed cameras’ really are, especially when figures for deaths were separated from serious injury.

Figures released yesterday show a 20 per cent increase in the number of children killed on the UK’s roads. These figures are based on police stats, which have generally dropped. If you look at hospital data it suggests road accident figures may be worse.

Paul Smith is suggesting that the Government have not been sophisticated enough in how they measured and interpreted the data. He believes they have actually been measuring improvement in vehicle safety, believing it to be because of the speed cameras - and lets face it they have a billion reasons to want it to be true.

He said: "The underlying story of the new road casualty figures is that we have received part of the benefit of improved car technology,"

He pointed out we should be seeing a more dramatic casualty reduction, in a different pattern - if the Government’s policies were actually based on accurate theory and really working as advertised.

"Road safety policy appears to have made matters worse because the only gains are in car occupant deaths.

"The problem is pedestrian, child and motorcyclist deaths are up. If the Government's policy was really working all these figures should have been coming down."

All this is being driven by yet another one of the Government's interminable ‘targets’, that end up distorting everything around them. In this case a pledge to reduce the number killed and seriously injured on the roads to 60% of the 1994 to 98 average by 2010.

French Kissing Cyber bullying in the USA

It seems teachers in the UK are not the only ones being cyber ‘bullied’.

While teenagers still think that most bullying happens offline, one third of online teenagers in the US have reportedly been cyber-bullied, according to the Pew Internet Project .

The most common complaint from teens, was about private information being shared, rather than direct threats.

One has to question exactly what they are counting as bullying. Is it the perception, or do they have a list and does it actually include things that most people would not even consider bullying?

Though it may not necessarily be the case here, I have seen some surveys where the criteria were dubious, to say the least, effectively designed to maximise the response.

According to this report, girls were more likely to be bullied than boys. Girls tend to network more, so that makes sense. People who share their identities online were apparently the most vulnerable.

Some 32% of teenagers questioned had experienced one, or more, of the following:

  • Receiving an aggressive email, IM or text message.
  • Having a rumour spread about them online or having.
  • Having a private e-mail, instant message, or text messaging forwarded, or posted where others could see it.
  • Having an embarrassing photograph posted online without permission.

The last two are a bit ambiguous. The more sensitive, the more likely to experience bullying if it is intended, or not.

This from a 16 year old girl certainly fits the bill:
"There's this boy in my anatomy class who everybody hates and some girl started up this I Hate [Name] MySpace thing. So everybody in school goes on it to say bad things about this boy."

I guess the one who started that - and the ones that joined in - never heard of Columbine High School, or Virginia Tech...

According to Secret service investigators, many of the shooters in those situations had feelings of alienation, or persecution, that eventually drove them to violence.