Category Archives: Police

The International State Crime Initiative and the School of Law event: ‘Combating Police Impunity’

Tuesday, 9th July | 2pm – 4pm, Room 313, Floor 3, School of Law, Queen Mary University of London, Mile End Road, E1 4NS

Abstract –

After misconduct charges were dismissed against Metropolitan Police officers involved in the arrest of her brother over 10 years ago, Marcia Rigg said the police ‘had a licence to kill.’ More than 30 years after the murder of Daniel Morgan, and despite an apology from the Met eight years ago that police corruption thwarted the criminal investigation, his family are still awaiting the report of an independent panel established in 2013.

Hearings of the Undercover Policing Inquiry, set up in 2015 to investigate Met surveillance on lawful social justice campaigns, are not expected to commence until 2020.

Evidently, police impunity is a pressing issue for Londoners.

This event brings together leading scholars and activists from the US and UK to examine both the structures and conditions of and solutions to police impunity.


Dr Graham Smith- Senior Lecturer, University of Manchester

In the 1980s and 1990s Graham Smith was the secretary of the Hackney Community Defence Association, a self-help group comprising victims of police crimes, and developed a police misconduct database. More recently he has served the Council of Europe and UN as an international expert on police complaints, the prohibition of torture and combatting impunity.

Professor Craig Futterman- Professor of Law, University of Chicago

Craig B. Futterman is a Clinical Professor of Law at the University of Chicago Law School and a Resident Dean in the College. He founded and has served as the Director of the Civil Rights and Police Accountability Project of the Mandel Legal Aid Clinic since 2000. Before his appointment to the Law Faculty, Professor Futterman was a Lecturer in Law and Director of Public Interest Programs at Stanford Law School. He previously joined Futterman & Howard, Chtd., a boutique law firm concentrating in complex federal litigation. There, Prof. Futterman specialized in civil rights and constitutional matters, with a special focus on racial discrimination, education, and police brutality. Before that, he served as a trial attorney in the Juvenile Division of the Cook County Public Defender’s Office. Mr. Futterman received his J.D. from Stanford Law School and graduated with the highest distinction from Northwestern University with a Bachelor of Arts in Sociology and Economics.

Dr Nadine El-Enany, Senior Lecturer, Birkbeck College

Nadine El-Enany is a Senior Lecturer in Law at Birkbeck School of Law and Co-Director of the Centre for Research on Race and Law (@CentreRaceLaw). Nadine teaches and researches in the fields of migration and refugee law, European Union law, protest and criminal justice. Her current research project, funded by the Leverhulme Trust, focuses on questions of race and criminal and social justice in death in custody cases. Her book, (B)ordering Britain: law, race and empire is out with MUP later this year.

Val Aston, NETPOL

Val has recently completed her PhD at the Law School of the University of East Anglia, where her research has centred on the impact of state surveillance on political autonomy and the growth of social movements. She also sits on the steering group of Netpol, a UK-based human rights NGO which focuses on the protection of assembly rights and the monitoring of public order and protest policing. Val’s current research interests include pre-emptive policing and the designation of ‘risk’, and in particular, the extent to which a growing emphasis on preventive policing is constraining the growth of civil society.


To register for tickets go to:







Extremism? Three steps David Cameron can take to change hearts and minds

cameron bham 20.7.15First, the prime minister could help to bring about change by apologising for British and American extremism.

He conveniently omits to acknowledge the impact of the attack on Iraq in 1992 – well before 9/11/2001. It was followed by an illegal and ruinous invasion in 2003 and illegal detention and torture in Guantanamo Bay, Abu Ghraib and less well-known prisons.

He said: “I think we need a clarity of what we mean by extremism” – the actions mentioned above are extreme and over time an extreme response to them has materialised.

Then he added that what we need is people involved in our schools who buy into British values of freedom, democracy, free speech :

Freedom: Babar Ahmad imprisoned in Britain without charge for years

Democracy: ignoring a million strong protest against the second Iraq war

Free speech: as long as it doesn’t ‘rock the boat’ & is politically correct.

Second, Mr Cameron should tone down his extreme support for Israel, which slaughtered over 2000 Palestinians in five weeks and has inflicted many hardships on those living in the occupied territories – except those living well in the illegal Israeli settlements.

children drone killed

Finally he can apologise for Britain’s part in executing young and old without trial by drone strike.


An indispensable ally: Russia’s Soyus rockets continue to provision Scott Kennedy


On Sunday morning the Falcon 9 rocket (a Space X and NASA project) exploded a few minutes after takeoff. It was carrying approximately 2,477 kg of food, clothing, equipment and science experiments for the station. Business Insider offers a video of the launch and explosion, here.

Space X and NASA assure the public that the ISS crew has plenty of supplies for four months. Scott Kelly, an astronaut on the space station, tweets:

astronaut tweet

The International Space Station is a joint project of five space agencies: NASA, Roscosmos, JAXA, ESA and CSA and – despite US-led sanctions – Soyuz rockets continue to be the only reliable providers of transport for astronauts at the International Space Station. Since the retirement of The US Space Shuttle in 2011, all human space flights and reprovisioning voyages to and from the International Space Station have been carried out using Soyuz.

Hubris – ‘Mars One’

Despite this failure, NASA’s website informs us that the agency is developing the capabilities needed to send humans to an asteroid by 2025 and Mars in the 2030s – see the NASA Authorization Act of 2010 and U.S. National Space Policy, also issued in 2010.

Time to make up boys

space debris- depictionWhen an agency that cannot even service its existing space programme it is time to think of halting and spending the money saved on humane and constructive purposes, including the clearing up of ‘space junk’ circulating the earth (left, one of many similar depictions). The problem is said to be most serious in low orbits hundreds of kilometres above Earth. Though media headlines focus on large pieces of space debris falling from the sky, Scientific American gives the six major reasons for concern here.

The Financial Times focussed on this problem last week. Flight controllers recently had to move the International Space Station out of the way of a fragment of an American Minotaur launcher and conspiracy theorists allege that germ warfare capsules are amongst the detritus and even that experiments are being conducted on the ISS. We fervently hope they are wrong but the hovering ghosts of Hiroshima and napalmed Vietnamese remove all certainties.

The FT reminds us that in 2009 NASA reported that a defunct Russian Kosmos satellite destroyed a functioning US Iridium communications satellite — adding more than 2,000 pieces of trackable debris to the inventory of space junk.

Esa’s Clean Space Initiative

Many proposals have been made to address the space debris problem, and the most advanced is a project called e.Deorbit, which the European Space Agency (Esa) is working up into a design to put to ministers of its member countries for approval next year.

“We are getting collision warnings almost every week for some of our satellites,” says Robin Biesbroek, project manager. “We really need to do something.”

Like return to sanity?

How Corrupt is Britain?

People laughed when MP Neil Hamilton was found to have accepted money in a brown envelope – this is not the British way. But the bestowal of directorships and employment for family and friends is acceptable – ‘good form’ – lucrative and legal.

George Monbiot points out that many poor nations are plagued by the kind of corruption that involves paying bribes in that way, but adds that the British system already belongs to the elite.

cameron corruption

He notes that Transparency International’s corruption index ranks Britain 14th – why not lower? His explanation: “the definitions of corruption on which the index draws are narrow and selective. Common practices in the rich nations that could reasonably be labelled corrupt are excluded; common practices in the poor nations are emphasised”.

A former minister ran HSBC while it engaged in systematic tax evasion, money laundering for drugs gangs and the provision of services to Saudi and Bangladeshi banks linked to the financing of terrorists. Instead of prosecuting the bank, the head of the UK’s tax office went to work for it when he retired.

The Private Finance Initiative has been used by our governments to deceive us about the extent of their borrowing while channelling public money into the hands of corporations. Shrouded in secrecy, stuffed with hidden sweeteners, it has landed hospitals and schools with unpayable debts, while hiding public services from public scrutiny.

Monbiot reminds us that state police forces are alleged to have protected prolific paedophiles, including Jimmy Savile, and – it is now reported – a ring of senior politicians. The BBC has sacked many of those who sought to expose him while promoting people who tried to perpetuate the cover-up. He cites other forms of corruption:

  • our unreformed political funding system which permits the very rich to buy political parties;
  • the phone-hacking scandal and the payment of police by newspapers;
  • the underselling of Royal Mail;
  • the revolving door allowing corporate executives to draft the laws affecting their businesses;
  • the robbing of the welfare and prison services by private contractors;
  • price-fixing by energy companies;
  • daylight robbery by pharmaceutical firms and dozens more such cases.

Monbiot asks, “Is none of this corruption? Or is it too sophisticated to qualify?”

The power of global finance and the immense wealth of the global elite are founded on corruption, and the beneficiaries have an interest in framing the question to excuse themselves.

how corrupt britianA ground-changing book called How Corrupt is Britain?, edited by David Whyte, was recently published. It argues that narrow conceptions of corruption are part of a long tradition of portraying the problem as something confined to weak nations, which must be rescued by “reforms” imposed by colonial powers and, more recently, bodies such as the World Bank and the IMF. These “reforms” mean austerity, privatisation, outsourcing and deregulation and tend to suck money out of the hands of the poor and into the hands of national and global oligarchs.

Monbiot believes that How Corrupt is Britain? should be read by anyone who believes this country merits its position on the Transparency International’s corruption index.

Capita to ‘support’ nuclear police: with friends like these, who needs enemies . . .

The FT recently reported that, according to figures from the Information Services Group consultancy, government spending on outsourced public services has risen from £64bn to £120bn in the five years since the coalition came to power.

Though the Serious Fraud Office is investigating Serco and G4S and the National Audit Office has called for tighter scrutiny of government contracts, the ‘outsourcing market’ gathers pace in health, justice, welfare and defence sectors and is now said to be the second largest in the world outside the US.

Concerns over food safety – and now nuclear security

civil nuclear constables

Capita, which took over the Food and Environment Research Agency in March, has won another contract. The Independent reports that the ‘outsourcing giant’ is to play a support role at the command centre of the Civil Nuclear Constabulary, an armed special police service that protects nuclear power plants, waste dumps, and nuclear material in transit.

But Capita is neither cheap nor reliably efficient:

Why does the government make such decisions – manifestations of the corporate-state nexus at its worst?


The nexus of power between journalists, politicians and police in the UK comes under satirical scrutiny

Saturday’s 50,000 strong demo was largely ignored – will ridicule work?

richard beanJames Pickford in the Financial Times reports that the nexus of power between journalists, politicians and police in the UK comes under satirical scrutiny in a new play – Great Britain – opening on Monday at the National Theatre.

The playwright, Richard Bean, graduated in social psychology and worked as an occupational psychologist, before moving into stand-up comedy and then written drama. (Photograph by Greg Funnell )

Satire helps!

we tighten our belts 3Billie Piper is Paige Britain, an ambitious news editor at the Free Press, a fictional tabloid newspaper, and Rupert Vansittart is a Tory prime minister in the play which focusses on press and political scandals of the past decade including hacking and MPs’ expenses.

Sir Nicholas Hytner, the National’s artistic director, insisted Ms Piper’s character was not based on Rebekah Brooks, the former News of the World editor who was this week cleared of phone-hacking charges at the Old Bailey with trial costs estimated at £60m – and more to follow.

The play will open without preview performances. Critics will be invited to Monday’s premiere after dress rehearsals with a small, selected audience this week. Tickets for the first fortnight of performances went on sale on Wednesday. Those for the rest of the run, which ends on August 23, will be available from Thursday

Richard Bean said that the play was inspired by press misdemeanours, but none of the powerful groups at its centre came out well: “Press, police and politicians are essentially in bed with each other, and this threatens democracy.”

fish organiseWill enough authors, cartoonists and comedians unite to laugh corporate-political alliances, of whatever party, permanently out of office?