Section 5 drinking game

In our house, we’ve come up with a new drinking game when watching any of the myriad of emergency services documentaries on TV these days, particularly police ones.

It’s quite simple. Take a drink every time the police arrest someone for a “section 5″ public order offence because they muttered something under their breath when walking away from the police.

(Bonus drink if they previously stated “You can’t arrest me!” or I start ranting about how the police are doing things we’re not allowed to do even to prisoners of war who have just been trying to kill us)

Do not expect to finish the evening sober.

Free sex change and relationship breakup, thanks to the census

It appears that the Office for National Statistics, when reporting on census data, will simply get their computer try to guess at what people intended.

If you’re a gay man and ticked the married box then the Office for National Statistics will ensure the “mismatch is… resolved using a probabilistic statistical system [to] alter one or more variables to make the response consistent“. And yes, they specifically state this could result in the system “changing the sex of one individual“.

This completely ignores the fact that married – not just Civil Partnered – couples of the same sex are entirely valid. Perhaps it’s a foreign marriage, or you’re Trans and married but don’t have a GRC for any of a whole host of reasons?

Oh, and they might divorce you anyway: If you indicate multiple relationships (A Poly household for example) they’ll just pick one to ensure everyone is in nice neat couples for their system. I guess anything else would just be Too Complicated for the statisticians.

I’ve submitted a followup FoI request to find out how common this has been in previous years. (Although previous years will not have had Civil Partner as an option)

Lies, damned lies and statistics?

The whole Number 10 made-up-name fuss

I’m mildly amused by yesterdays revelations that Number 10 use false names on letters. It’s not unusual for this to happen for “security reasons” even outside of the civil service. I briefly worked for a car finance company and many of the collections/fraud staff used pseudonyms to avoid trouble.

(The kind of person who can obtain or fake the documents required to get a car loan fraudulently isn’t necessarily a Nice Person. Our staff telephone lists, with two names for some people, became quite sensitive documents!)

This seemed to work very well, even as far as using that name in court, as long as you are consistent so that letters and phone calls are attributed to an individual. Indeed, it’s rather more common than many people might initially think as many professional women will keep their maiden name at work while changing their name for other purposes. The trouble was that Number 10’s system is to use completely random names each time. Today’s Mr F Bloggs is tomorrow’s Mrs J Doe, so if you ring up and ask for Mr F Bloggs then they have no idea who you’re talking about!

Perhaps they just need more diversity at higher levels of their communications office. Many married professional women and most Trans folk will know that in this country at least, a name isn’t anything special.

More and more police powers (But I approve of these ones)

48 hours on from the news that the police will be getting increased powers of prosecution, we’ve learnt there are plans to also give them more power when it comes to dealing with traffic offences. Specifically, they will be able to hand out fixed penaty notices for driving like an inconsiderate dolt tailgating and similar offences, rather than having to take you to court.

It is unusual for me to approve of additional police power, but I like the sound of these ones. Tailgating is a serious problem and one that can’t be addressed by speed cameras and does contribute to accidents. I also believe it is more clear cut than some critics of the proposals seem to think as if you are consistently half a second behind the vehicle in front you are too close. There’s little room for argument there.

I am assuming that drivers given a fixed penalty will be able to opt to go to court as an alternative, however. The news seems to have been released without (And this is far too common with government departments) anything actually being posted on the web sites of any of the departments involved. So, as usual, we’re left to read between the lines from media reports that may or may not be accurate until the promised “written statement” is forthcoming later today.

Cablegate: PCC to crack down by… “issuing further guidance”

As you may have heard if you follow the news, the Press Complaints Commission today ruled that the Telegraph’s fishing expedition against Vince Cable broke the rules. Oddly, there is no mention of any penalties in the ruling. They’re not being asked to pay a fine and they don’t even appear to be being asked to print an apology. Instead, the PCC has “undertaken to issue further guidance” to the industry.

And yet this guidance-issuing commission is so draconian in it’s guidance issuing that the Daily Express and it’s sister papers withdraw from the self-regulatory regime earlier this year.

There are those that lament the slow demise of the newspaper publishing industry. I have to say that I am not one of them.

Theresa “Police State” May gives the police even more power to harass

After a bit of a break, there’s so much stuff I could write about.

How about Tory MP Nadine Dorries? Sarah Brown commented that she’s never been seen in the same room as a certain ultra right-wing US politician. She’s not the only one to have had this thought as the Independent today branded Nadine Britain’s answer to Sarah Palin. There are certainly similarities, but even the Americans recognised a few years ago that abstenance education doesn’t work. And I’m not entirely sure why she only wants to teach girls either, as boys need to take just as much responsibility.

Or there’s the Torygraph, whose have one of their editors suggesting that only those earning enough money should be entitled to vote. So while some of us were campaigning to try to push progressive changes to democracy through, the Telegraph suggested a return to a system over one hundred and twenty years old.

But Theresa May trumps both those, as usual, with her police reform. She’s already proposed things even the Met – not known for being particularly well behaved, had suggested were akin to a police state. Now she wants to give the police more power to prosecute, without even the pretence of a check and balance of the Crown Prosecution Service.

So, in future, should a Metropolitan Police officer decide you’re not worth unlawfully killing or unlawfully kettling, they can just harass you via the criminal courts instead.