Posts Tagged police

Strike a light

Despite real fears about crime, the figures are getting better. Crime fell 14% in Islington last year, and the Lib Dem Council is funding a new team to support crime victims and work with residents to increase the number of anti-social behaviour cases going to court.

Meanwhile one Finsbury resident has been jailed for a year for a rather unusual crime. Andrew McKee from Hermit Street, EC1 was sentenced to 12 months imprisonment for ‘recklessly and negligently endangering an aircraft’ – despite never leaving the ground.

Back in July 2007, the Metropolitan Police helicopter was on an operation over Hermit Street, when a green laser light was shone directly into the cockpit, several times.

The police traced the laser back to Mr McKee and charged him under Article 73 of the Air Navigation Order 2005. MoD scientists and the helicopter pilot gave evidence that shining the laser into the cockpit did put the aircraft, its passengers (and of course all the people living below including Mr McKee and his family) at risk.

I don’t expect the Met Police have much call to apply the Air Navigation Order, airports apart, but it could have its uses.

Article 66 of the same Order, you will be glad to know, prohibits dropping animals from an aircraft in flight (‘whether or not attached to a parachute’); while article 50 requires one pilot to remain at the controls at all times while it is in flight. Makes sense to me.

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Burglary crime prevention advice

Some useful advice on burglary prevention has arrived from the Met police:

Burglary continues to fall, despite this, it remains one of our top priorities. Our dedicated Burglary Team are working hard to arrest known offenders and investigate burglaries thoroughly. They are fully supported by an equally dedicated Forensics Team who aim to attend all residential burglary scenes as soon as possible or at a time convenient to the victim and are available 24 hours a day.

Since April 2009, the Forensics Team has helped solve and detect 22 burglaries as a direct result of identifying suspects through forensic evidence from crime scenes.

If you are the victim of a burglary it is very important to preserve the scene.

Do not touch or move any thing until the scene has been thoroughly examined. If you must touch something, if possible, wear gloves and preserve items touched or left by suspects e.g. doors, blood, glasses or tools they may have used.

Here are some simple steps to protect you and your home.

Before you go out or go to bed check that all accessible windows and doors are securely closed and locked.
Know where your keys are at all times in case you need to leave in an emergency, but don’t leave them or any valuables in view or within easy reach of a window or door.
Unless you are in the same room do not leave windows and doors open or unlocked, particularly if you are on the ground or first floor.
Lock away ladders, garden tools and other items that burglars could use to force entry.
Senior citizens especially should ensure that any strangers knocking at the door saying they are workmen show correct identification. Residents can check with the local council on 020 7527 2000 whether any maintenance work is being carried out in their area.
A simple test of home security is • if you can get into your home without keys • so can a burglar.

More detailed advice can be seen at http://www.met.police.uk/crime prevention or by contacting Islington Police Crime Prevention Office on 020 7421 0674.

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Early doors for the Glass Works

Islington Police have sent me an update on the Glass Works pub.

The Glass Works is not a typical Islington pub, but a Lloyds/Wetherspoons venue, located upstairs in the N1 shopping centre. Nowhere in Islington is far from someone’s home, but the Glass Works is about as non-residential a location as it gets. And although definitely not to everyone’s taste (well not mine anyway) it’s popular for a cheap night out or meeting up before or after a film.

So of all the pubs in Islington, why are the police tackling this one?

Well, the major fight that took place last month was the last straw, following various violent incidents earlier in the year.

The Police have successfully lobbied the Council – as licensing authority – to cut back the venue’s opening hours. The amended license conditions are as follows:
– To reduce the hours for the sale of alcohol to 23:30 pm, 7 days a week.
– To reduce the hours for the provision of late night refreshment to midnight, 7 days a week.
– To reduce the closing hours of the premises to midnight, 7 days a week.
So it’s not exactly early doors, but now more pub than club.

The Islington Gazette has more on the story here.

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Cycling and red lights; my impromptu mini-poll

On Friday morning I’d left home on my way to meet a friend for coffee, when I ran into Cllr Barbara Smith.

Her portfolio includes community safety, and she was out observing the local Safer Neighbourhood Team, who were busy stopping and spot-fining cyclists going through red lights on New North Road. Cyclists breaking the rules is an issue that has come up before at my Safer Neighbourhood Team meetings, as I blogged last year, but it’s the first time I’d actually seen the police in action on the issue.

Anyway, because it was unusual, I updated my Twitter/Facebook status with the news and a question:
Just seen local police doing on-spot fines for cyclists running red lights. Good idea?

After all, it’s only a few months since Mayor Boris suggested that the police should let bikes ignore red lights when turning left.

By the time I was next online, a flurry of responses had come in (thank you!). Most were supportive of the police action, ranging from thumbs-up on Facebook to various statements:

– Yes, an excellent idea. I’ve nearly been hit a number of times by cyclists disregarding the rules!
– In my opinion yes. Seen a couple of nasty incidents where pedestrians crossing have been knocked down or hit by cyclists.
– Yes! I drive a car, ride my cycle and walk (not all at the same time!) & cyclists who jump red lights are dangerous – for others as well as themselves!
– Yes very good! they should also obey the road rules!!!
– As a cyclist I think this is a fantastic idea. Disobeying the rules of the road looks bad for all of us, and makes drivers lose respect, as they see us as a menace, rather than fellow road-users. And that makes cycling more dangerous.
– Yes – they should do that for cyclists who almost run me over coming round corners on pavements at 80 mph too!!! :)

There were also a couple of dissenters:
– Personal opinion of course, but wouldn’t resources, time and money be better spent on catching career criminals and preventing more serious criminal acts?
– Nope. Waste of public resource to enforce… It is often safer for cyclists to run a red light than stick to the letter of the law. I’d like far more say in what gets enforced and what doesn’t……

Which brings us back to the Safer Neighbourhood Team. They are supposed to take their priorities from us, the residents. So let yours know what you think too.

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Daily dose of children’s DNA

Liberal Democrats have long been concerned about the police keeping the DNA of innocent people.

And it’s particularly unacceptable when the DNA belongs to children. Now my colleague Jo Shaw in Camden has got figures from the police there using Freedom of Information requests. Camden are adding on average 350 samples a year from children to the National DNA Database – that’s almost one a day. Jo points out that at present, if the child is over 10, their DNA sample can be retained on the database indefinitely, whether or not they are convicted (or even charged) with any criminal offence.

This is all very timely as the government are consulting about retention of DNA right now.

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Police letter in Tribune

The Tribune has printed my letter on the G20 policing and the need for more police accountability.

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Suspicious minds

I often end up eating supper in front of a late night episode of ‘Law and Order’ or ‘CSI’ – not ideal given all those autopsies.

Mobile phones have become intrinsic to the plots: not just for the characters to contact each other, but tracing calls, connecting witnesses, and even locating suspects by triangulating their signals. Last weekend, we went to see ‘Duplicity’: good film, great plot – and impossible without mobile phones. No wonder Orange sponsor the movies.

My mobile isn’t very fancy. But in my life as in the films, it’s become indispensible. If I pop out to post a letter, I take my keys – and my phone. That’s my choice. The dramas feature mobiles as potential accessories to crime: drug dealers’ throwaway phones, illicit photos, even bomb triggers. It never occurred to me that not having a phone might be suspicious.

Then I read this piece by David Mery (a fellow supporter of NO2ID), reporting two cases where not carrying a mobile was given as grounds for arrest. In Germany, an arrest warrant for Andrej Holm said “The fact that he – allegedly intentionally – did not take his mobile phone with him to a meeting is considered as ‘conspiratorial behavior’.”

And in France a group of students were arrested because, as the Interior Minister said, “They have adopted the method of clandestinity. They never use a mobile phone. They managed to have, in the village of Tarnac, friendly relations with people who could warn them of the presence of strangers.”

In just a few years, mobiles, like TVs, are seen as a universal norm. My friends without TVs get endless hassle from the licensing authorities who seem unwilling to believe anyone can live without the box. Although with iPlayer etc, traditional TV sets are now more dispensible than ever.

David Mery, meanwhile, has his own experience of being seen as suspicious. In 2005 he was arrested for having a combination of a beard, a backpack and a laptop on the tube (geeks of the world beware). Oh, and having a mobile phone.

He has since been one of the few people to succeed in getting his DNA off the police database. In the world of ‘Law and Order’, cases are tied up within the hour. In the real world, it took David over two years to clear his name.

As he concludes, “Aren’t the Police supposed to keep tabs only on convicted criminals and individuals under investigation? So even though the Police concluded I was arrested without a cause, otherwise they would have had a duty to prosecute me, personal information remains in the Police national computer; which can be shared with Europol and Interpol, in other Police databases around the world. Isn’t a state that keeps files on innocent persons a police state?

“This gradual erosion of our fundamental liberties should be of concern to us all.”

You can sign the Lib Dem petition to take all innocent people’s DNA off the national register here.

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Police hospitalised over HP sauce

Not a headline you expect every day. Or at all, in fact.

Apparently, “officers who came into contact with the substance were taken to hospital as a precautionary measure“. I don’t like HP Sauce, but I’ve never felt the need to go to A&E after a whiff of the stuff.

It’s not the first time HP Sauce has caused a brush with the law. So you think it would be known to the police by now.

Mind you, it could have been worse.

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Police horses out and about

You don’t often hear horses’ hooves in N1, but this afternoon the sound of horses drew me to the window – and there was a pair of police horses going down the street.

Years ago there were police mews in Barnsbury, and we sometimes had horses clopping down Hemingford Road when I lived there. But I’ve never seen or rather heard them in Morton Road before.

I don’t think they were connected with this one….

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Mapping crime in London

Worried about crime in your area?

Well, you can now access crime maps for the Met Police recorded crime figures for your area online.

Simply enter your postcode and you get an instant report: I tried my current postcode in a corner of St Peter’s ward where we’ve had real problems of street disorder over the last couple of years, the local shop has been attacked, we even had a murder.

Then my previous postcode in Barnsbury, where the street was quiet but we were burgled twice. Then the postcode before that where we had a completely crime-free time on a turning in Highbury.

All three came up as ‘crime rate: average’. So this might not be the most nuanced tool. Admittedly, it is interesting to see how many crimes have been reported in your neighbourhood, and how that varies from month to month. However there’s no distinction between say, domestic violence and a stolen car. So I’m not sure what the numbers tell us.

Interesting yes; but is it really useful?

I’m generally in favour of the more information the better. But I blogged on my scepticism over crime mapping last year. And I’d still rather Boris spent my council tax on reducing crime in my patch to ‘below average’ rather than telling me what we already have….

Although I’m sure that won’t stop me checking out all my friends’ postcodes in the meantime!

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