Police raid activist’s home for ‘criminal’ posts on Facebook. China? No – Wales

At first reading I found this story absolutely atrocious, and if accurately reported it is atrocious. Politicising of the Police, exactly what we have been predicting and fighting against. Do not forget though, that we have only heard one side of the story so far, to carry out this kind of operation at midnight seems to me like there was a specific reason for it. The register of premises searched (if the premises were searched)., the search warrant(if one existed) and the authority for obtaining the warrant may all throw more light onto this situation., but as reported this is a situation that is not in anyone’s best interests and I for one would like to hear the whole story, not just one side of it.

Pride's Purge

(Not satire – I’m sorry to say.)

A female disability activist had her home raided yesterday by South Wales Police who attempted to intimidate her into stopping posting comments on Facebook critical of government cuts and specifically the Department of Work and Pensions and their attacks on the rights of disability claimants.

In her own words:

I’ve just had the police forcing their way into my flat near midnight and harrassing me about my “criminal” posts on Facebook about the DWP, accusing me of being “obstructive”. I didn’t know what in f**k’s name they were on about. They kept going on and on at me, it was horrifically stressful, and they only left after I started crying uncontrollably.

Interestingly, the activist says the police where informed about her activities by a leading member of the PCS union which represents DWP staff.

The police officers did not charge her. They clearly were just…

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A Warm Hello to Everybody at Policy Exchange

Hi there, we don’t actually know each other but I know you’ve read at least some of my blogs.  I know these things because I get the logs and I actually read them.  So I feel like we’re almost friends now.

You’re in good company, some of my blogs have been read by A4e, G4S, a certain London law firm and even the Houses of Parliament.

So I’d just like to thank you for reading, you keep doing what you do and I’ll keep doing what I do.

Until the next time, adios

G4S Just Keep Growing and Plotting World Domination

In a move that I confess to having missed G4S bought up part of a company called Guidance Monitoring about 18 months ago.  Under normal circumstances I wouldn’t worry about it, and that’s probably why I missed it.

Who are/were Guidance Monitoring?  They are a company formed in  the early 1990s by Malcolm Roberts and John Potter, the company’s current managing director and product director respectively.  They are/were suppliers of offender tracking technologies to governments across the world (Tagging).

After the deal was complete G4S CEO David Taylor-Smith (he’s since resigned after the Olympics debacle) said “We believe their market-leading technology provides the best platform for future global expansion in the offender monitoring marketplace, and we look forward to working with them to build this business in the UK and overseas.”  Malcolm Roberts said “The opportunity to work with G4S teams around the world on introducing this cost-effective and proven technology into new markets is an extremely exciting prospect.”

Just last month G4S won a lucrative £13 million contract to take on Tagging in Scotland for 5 years using this very technology.  Their stated aim is to expand this arm of their business globally.  They took on too much for the Olympic Games 2012, or so it would appear.  They took on too much with Cheshire Custody Services and the Police Authority took it back in house.  Is this another step too far?  According to a recent article in the Daily Mail the existing system – operated by G4S and Serco – is outdated and expensive.  My old friends Policy Exchange are even advocating giving Tagging back to the Police in order to save £70 million.  “Policy Exchange said the current arrangements were too expensive and had failed to cut re-offending. It says £70m would be saved if tagging were done by police or probation officers instead of private firms.”

So the government’s favourite Think Tank thinks it’s too expensive and out-dated but G4S want to buy up a company and expand globally.  Who’s right?  I don’t know, you decide.

A4e Claims Success In Getting Taxpayers Money Off Benefits & Into Its Own Pockets

Yet one more company riding the ConDem Gravy Train to Bankruptcy Junction

Pride's Purge

(satire)

Emma Harrison, the woman appointed by David Cameron to help get tax payers’ money off benefits and into her own pocket, has issued a statement explaining why she has decided to pay herself a dividend of £8.6m siphoned off from her firm’s lucrative “workfare” contracts with the government.

Ms Harrison is the chair of A4e, which specialises in that very modern practice known as “welfare to pocket”, in which private companies are paid to reduce the amount of money the government spends on jobless people by diverting it to themselves instead.

But after officers from Thames Valley police raided A4e’s offices in Slough as part of a fraud inquiry, the company was forced to defend its record.

Ms Harrison explained:

A4e has always taken very seriously the very important role we have been given of making sure the millions of pounds of taxpayers’ money we have been trusted with is effectively used…

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David Hanson MP: Theresa May is being completely dishonest about police numbers

David Hanson MP: Theresa May is being completely dishonest about police numbers.

 

David Hanson, Shadow Policing Minister, said:

“Theresa May is being completely dishonest about police numbers. She claimed, extraordinarily, that frontline police are being “protected”. But the Home Office’s own figures show nearly 7,000 frontline police officers have already been cut in the first two years of the Tory-led Government. This loss is even worse than the experts predicted.

“She also tried to claim there were more neighbourhood police, but in truth many forces have redefined and merged existing units of officers. For example in Gloucestershire they count 537 officers as neighbourhood, but just 27 as 999 response. The previous year, however, they had 450 described as 999 response, the majority of which have now switched to being counted as neighbourhood. In reality forces are being forced to double up the jobs and merging responsibilities to cover for the cuts.

“According to the Home Office’s own figures the total number of neighbourhood police, response unit police and traffic cops has fallen by 7,500 since the general election.

“The measures on restorative justice that Ed Miliband called for in April will be undermined if there aren’t enough police officers to enforce them.

“And if she wants more action on organised crime, she should support the plans set out by Yvette Cooper to get back more of the cash they have stolen.

“And she failed to apologise for the behaviour of Conservative Chief Whip Andrew Mitchell, who insulted the police officers she is supposed to be backing in the fight against crime.

“The Home Secretary announced no new action to reduce crime, support the police or meet her immigration target. Despite all the government’s tough rhetoric they are cutting 15,000 police and undermining their work – this is a government that is weak on crime and weak on causes of crime.”

An Open Reply to @321bin

Dusty, you have inspired me.  I have spent literally….well minutes,   thinking whether or not us chaps would be better off single or wed (other forms of partnership are available).

Whilst I must declare that I am a long time member of the married fraternity, heaven only knows how, just for today I will attempt to redress the balance and outline some of the benefits you may have in your ‘single’ life

Spa Bath, Rifle and Beer – Perfect

First there’s the spa bath.  What woman is going to feel safe with you relaxing in your nice new spa bath with a rifle and a supply of beer?  Being single you can ‘the guys’ round, soak, drink and shoot.  What could be better after after a hard day’s graft.  Definitely won’t be happening with a woman in the house.

Boys and Their Toys

Secondly, what woman do you know that would let you service your motor bike in the lounge and then take it for a test drive?  If it’s raining outside you don’t want it getting wet once you serviced, cleaned and polished it do you?

Surf Boarding

So you want to go boarding with the guys?  Can’t be doing with all that wetsuit malarky, boards are too expensive and it costs a fortune to go to a proper facility.  A wife would want to go and hang out with the girls and make sure you were doing it properly and not showing her up.

A Perfect Christmas tree

Take Christmas, wives like to have nice sparkly Christmas Trees in the corner bristling with fairy lights, chocolate coins and all sorts of unnecessary things that just take up space and stop you putting the important things for Christmas on the tree.

Then there’s Christmas decorations.  Paper Chains, gold and red stars, little baubles, that’s what women want around the house.  Well let’s have some Man Decorations I say, get up on that roof and let’s have a Pissing Santa, why-ever not?  Perfectly tasteful I say, acceptable in any neighbourhood.

Christmas Decorations

Finally Cooking, what makes women think that men can’t cook?  I’ve got my power tools, I can mix a cake just as good as a Magimix or whatever they’re called.  I think I’ve proved my point Dusty, there is absolutely nothing wrong with being 40 and single.  I’m older than you and I can see me being single some time soon. Enjoy it mate.

A Man’s MagiMix

Policy Exchange – How It Works

I recently became aware that I had written the words Policy Exchange more times in my blogs than I thought would have been average.  So I set about trying to find out how Policy Exchange works and set out my personal thoughts on said observation.  I will not be quoting the names of any companies/businesses unless it is a direct lift from another document, you will have to fill in the gaps yourselves.

WHAT IS POLICY EXCHANGE?

Policy Exchange is a neoconservative orientated think-tank with close ties to David Cameron.  It was launched in April 2002 by two former Asda executives Francis Maude and Archie Norman with Nicholas Boles as its founding director.  It is part of the Stockholm Network  a working group of European market-oriented think-tanks.

In 2011 Tim Montgomerie (founder and editor of the website ConservativeHome.com) wrote, ‘the old rightwing thinktanks weren’t particularly helpful to the Tory modernisers and so they built their own. Policy Exchange helped Michael Gove develop his schools agenda. The Centre for Social Justice gave Iain Duncan Smith his poverty-fighting plans.’  In 2012 he described the two think-tanks as having ‘been the most influential centre right think tank of the last decade.’

Already we are seeing some current, prominent names.

WHAT DO THEY DO?

This is what their website says they do “As an educational charity our mission is to develop and promote new policy ideas which deliver better public services, a stronger society and a more dynamic economy. The authority and credibility of our research is our greatest asset. Our research is independent and evidence-based and we share our ideas with policy makers from all sides of the political spectrum

They then go on to say this “The authority and credibility of our research is our greatest asset. Our research is independent and evidence-based and we share our ideas with policy makers from all sides of the political spectrum.  Our research is strictly empirical and we do not take commissions. This allows us to be completely independent and make workable policy recommendations.”

And this is where my problems all begin.

  • Charitable Status

Registering as a charity can provide numerous tax breaks for think-tanks. Charities do not normally have to pay corporation tax, capital gains tax, or stamp duty, and gifts to charities are free of inheritance tax. They can also pay significantly reduced business rates (e.g. council tax) on the buildings they occupy.  They are also immune to requests made under the Freedom of Information Act 2000.

Why do they need charitable status?  Are they really so pious that they actually believe that they are better-educating the British public?

  • Where does their money come from?

Like all charities, they receive a large proportion of their income in the form of charitable donations.  Don’t get me going on the tax benefits of charitable donations, that’s a whole new arguement for another day.  Policy Exchange are particularly reluctant to disclose the identities of their donors  George Monbiot wrote a very interesting article on Think Tank Funding last year which you will find here.  However, I have come across a 70 page report from only last year entitled The Cold War On British Muslims.  Don’t be put off by the title, follow the link, download the report and take a gander at pages 53-60, too lengthy to reproduce here.  These pages contain the identities of some of Policy Exchanges donors, private and corporate.

They include

Colin Barrow, a millionaire Hedge Fund Manager.  He is known to have funded both Policy Exchange and Localis. I still don’t know what a Hedge Fund is never mind how to manage it, but maybe this is why government don’t want to tackle the real problem – financiers, bankers, hedge fund managers.

The City of London Corporation

Westminster City Council

Lord Ashcroft, who has also donated large sums to the Conservative Party.  Ashcroft was approached by Francis Maude for financial support in early 2003.  After meeting Michael Gove for lunch in the House of Lords, Ashcroft agreed and was subsequently invited to join the think-tank‘s board – an offer he declined. It would appear from this incident that individuals who donate large sums are typically invited to join the board of trustees.

Perhaps other wealthy members of Policy Exchange’s Board are also donors?

The identity of a number of other individual donors to Policy Exchange is known because their support is acknowledged in Policy Exchange publications.  These include John Nash, the chairman of the private healthcare company Care UK, and Henry Pitman, an old Etonian and founder of Tribal Group plc.  Henry Pitman‘s Tribal Group makes its money by providing outsourced public services and giving what it calls ‘advice and change management support‘ to the public sector.   In its 2010 accounts Tribal reported that 90% of its £202 million revenue was generated from the UK public sector.  The company commented that: ‗We see major opportunities to grow the business as the NHS accelerates the pace of reform to meet rising demand in a sustained period of funding constraints.‘  In February 2011 it announced that it had signed an agreement to ‘to assist the UK Government further in the delivery of efficiency savings‘

Another private company which stands to make substantial sums from the public sector reforms long advocated by Policy Exchange is Care UK, whose chairman John Nash was personally thanked in the same report as Tribal Group‘s Henry Pitman. Like Tribal Group, John Nash‘s Care UK makes the bulk of its money through outsourced public services. It is optimistic about the future of UK public policy and noted in its 2009 accounts that ‘public sector commissioners are increasingly turning to the independent sector to drive efficiency and reform.‘  John Nash is also a Tory donor and in November 2009 donated £21,000 to Andrew Lansley, who was the Secretary of State for Health

Another questionable source of funds for Policy Exchange‘s health research is Merck, one of the world‘s largest pharmaceutical companies which in May 2009 gave £17,500 to Policy Exchange to support research into drugs pricing.  I thought that was the responsibility of N.I.C.E

So, as you can see, the waters of public reform have once again become murky.  Before we leave this section I have a few thoughts of my own about ‘Charitable Status’  If you have read other of my blogs you will know that I hold reservations about senior Police Officers (amongst others) accepting the gift of a dinner at a Policy Exchange event.  Chief Constable Smith is invited to attend a dinner at Policy Exchange, or a restaurant of their choosing.  Mr Smith accepts the invitation, attends the dinner and subsequently registers this dinner in his Force’s Hospitality Register.  We know this much happens because Hospitality Registers are published documents and such events have been recorded therein.  If Chief Constable Smith wanted to attend a normal seminar on Policing for example he or his Force would have to pay for his attendance.  Why does no-one raise an eyebrow when Mr Smith is invited out to dinner by a Registered Charity with a political agenda?

Finally, let us return to the paragraph above which I have reproduced in red, particularly this bit  Our research is strictly empirical and we do not take commissions. This allows us to be
completely independent and make workable policy recommendations.

In their own Financial Statements Policy Exchange state that the object of their charity is

The non-partisan advancement of education of the public in the economic, social and political sciences and their effect on public policy and the policy making process in the UK and the promotion and publication of objective research.

If that’s not bad enough, they go on to say that their income falls into one of 3 categories;

  1. Unrestricted Funds – these are available for use at the discretion of the Trustees in the furtherance of the charitable objectives of the Charity.
  2. Designated Funds. – If part of an Unrestricted Fund is earmarked for a particular project it may be designated as a separate fund …….blah blah blah
  3. Restricted Funds – are funds subject to specific restricted conditions imposed by donors of those funds, such as donations given to the charity for specific research programmes and/or projects.

It’s number 3 that bothers me.  How does that co-exist with “We do not take commissions” and “this allows us to be completely independent”?  It seems to me that we can’t believe a single word of the psycho-babble on PX’s website, as the truth is obviously hidden elsewhere.

I’m sick and tired of sitting on the fence, think tanks such as Policy Exchange, and they are not the only think tank, don’t do anything to help educate me as a member of the public.  They do influence political policy, but that’s not what their charitable status states that they are about.  They have already been subject of one Charity Commission investigation about their funding and whether their charitable status was appropriate.

Maybe it’s time for the Federation or one of the Health Service Unions to take the matter up with the Charity Commission again.  I for one don’t think that what’s happening is correct on any level.

Lord Z makes donation to Policy Exchange and/or Conservative Party>>>>>>>>>>>>Policy Exchange produce a report promoting privatisation of xxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>>>>>>>>>>>>Goverenment debates and a reform Bill drawn up recommending privatisation of xxxxxxxxxxxx.>>>>>>>>>>>>>Privatisation of xxxxxxxxxxxxxxx is put in place by ConDems or whoever>>>>>>>>>>>>Lord Z sits back and rakes in the profits as his company bids for, and is awarded, contract for xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx.  Fact or Fiction?  Is this how it is to be from now on?

If you agree with this message PLEASE pass it on to anyone else who has an interest in the perils of privatisation and think tanks.  Not for me, I don’t get, nor want,. a penny out of it, but to try and get this crazy helter skelter to grind to a halt.

It may be useful to read my previous blog on Think Tanks here