Hi-tech policing during the riots

In an age where the police have powers to force telecommunications companies to hand over data and install interception equipment in their networks… where we spend vast amounts of money maintaining listening posts… on an operation where apparently even MI5 were involved…

Just how did the police crack the various BlackBerry Messenger groups used to coordinate the riots?

According to The Times: (£)

Scotland Yard said yesterday that it had picked up conversations on the BlackBerry Messenger (BBM) system after confiscating phones from arrested troublemakers. Police were then able to access the instant messaging network and respond to the more credible threats being circulated

Modern policing at it’s best. The best encryption available isn’t going to help if you have your collar felt by the old bill and they simply read what’s on your phone!

The not-so-slow motion moral collapse of Tory equality credibility

Well, the Tories seemed to be doing OK on equality. At least, they hadn’t managed to completely screw anything up so far this parliament. (Or if they did, then LibDem ministers stopped them – but it is annoying that even the party faithful do not really know what battles are being fought in the corridors of power)

Enter Mr. Cameron, stage right. Far right. Yesterday’s speech on the riots (Conservative Home link – there be Tories here!) seems calculated to annoy minorities. And women.

These riots were not about race: the perpetrators and the victims were white, black and Asian.

OK, off to a good start…

No, this was about behaviour, people showing indifference to right and wrong, people with a twisted moral code, people with a complete absence of self-restraint.

But politicians shying away from speaking the truth about behaviour, about morality, this has actually helped to cause the social problems we see around us.

We have been too unwilling for too long to talk about what is right and what is wrong.

Yay! He’s going to condemn gangs! And criminals! And people who aren’t very nice!

We have too often avoided saying what needs to be said – about everything from marriage to welfare to common courtesy.

Uh, marriage? Hang on, this is starting to sound a little bit like the old Tories.

So you can’t say that marriage and commitment are good things – for fear of alienating single mothers.

Oh dear. Blame single mothers. It’s all their fault. (Not sure why it’s single mothers and not single parents… oh, right, he’s a bloke. Easier to blame women. Sorry, I forgot.) Just to emphasise the point, one of the problems is “Children without fathers.

Bang goes any chance of a vote from Lesbian couples. Or two bisexual women in a relationship. Or any woman who is bi and has ever been in a same-sex relationship. And transwomen. On this basis, if you’re a transwoman with kids you’ve condemned them to being rioters. (Quite when my kids are supposed to fit in rioting in between seemingly constant trips to the cinema to see the latest instalment in the Harry Potter franchise is beyond me. Perhaps they could schedule some quick looting in for a Friday night when they’re not busy and I can drive them there?)

In fact, women in general. Cameron thinks women must be bad parents, because it’s the lack of a father that turns kids to crime.

And one last group he may have inadvertently managed to alienate: The military. Over ten thousand troops currently serving abroad, the majority being blokes. How many have families?

Just in case you hadn’t quite picked up on the axis of evil that is any family that doesn’t fit the mummy-daddy-2.4-children ideal, he drives the point home:

I don’t doubt that many of the rioters out last week have no father at home. Perhaps they come from one of the neighbourhoods where it’s standard for children to have a mum and not a dad, where it’s normal for young men to grow up without a male role model, looking to the streets for their father figures, filled up with rage and anger.

Have we seen any evidence that kids of single mothers have been disproportionately involved in the rioting? Of course not, the Conservatives are far too experienced at playing the “back-to-basics” game to let evidence get in the way.

So: from here on I want a family test applied to all domestic policy.

If it hurts families, if it undermines commitment, if it tramples over the values that keeps people together, or stops families from being together, then we shouldn’t do it.

That’s all LGBT equality policy out the window, then.

And we will be using our current chairmanship of the Council of Europe to seek agreement to important operational changes to the European Convention on Human Rights.

But this is all frustratingly slow.

The truth is, the interpretation of human rights legislation has exerted a chilling effect on public sector organisations, leading them to act in ways that fly in the face of common sense, offend our sense of right and wrong, and undermine responsibility.

Ah, human rights legislation is bad news. Another reliable right-wing fallback. Someone has been reading the Daily Mail too much, I fear. Not a good trait in a Prime Minister.