Monday, 4 March 2013

We have seen The Man and He Drives

The ongoing cycle safety hearings in London have looked at barriers to cycling -fear of death in cities designed for fast moving cars, buses and lorries, not people.

It's telling that even the MP last week said she wasn't prepared cycle with children -that's a failed cycling policy. Fit adult cyclists -especially aggressive men- can get up to speed, merge into traffic, get into the right hand turn in a multi-lane gyratory. The rest: intimidated away.

Clearly this is broken society.

But today: the ACPO appear: "we don't enforce 20 mph limits"

The ACPO sound like these limits are being imposed from above, and nobody in society wants them.

Yet the residents of the streets where 20 mile limits were rolled out have wanted exactly that -campaigned for them, worked with councillors to get them pushed out. The councillors have invested political capital in getting the 20 mph limits pushed out -because they know they are important to their electorate. They spent real money on the legal changes and the signage.

The ACPO have shown they don't care about that, because they don't agree with the limits -and they decide what laws get enforced. If the police don't enforce laws then the indifference of magistrates "it was only an accident that you killed a boy", becomes irrelevant. Same for the CPS: downgrading driving offences for easier success rates and better statistics in their annual targets -not justice for road traffic victims.

The ACPO last came to national attention with their funding of undercover police to infiltrate (legal) environmental activism groups, and then provide the support (here a van) to break the law -after which they were prosecuted. The ACPO are clearly deciding which laws to enforce -and who the enemies of the state are. They are the people campaigning for a better society, for better cities.

The ACPO are not accountable to parliament; they are exempt from FoI legislation. It is in fact a private company to which we have outsourced the decisions as to what laws are enforced in the country -and hence what laws we really have.

The Guardan, Jan 2011, the state's pedlars of fear must be brought to account:
 It is not, as its name suggests, the police officers' staff club, nor is it a public body of any sort. It is a private company, incorporated in 1997. It is sub-contracted by Whitehall to operate the police end of the government's counterterrorism and "anti-extremism" strategies. It is thus alongside MI5, but even less accountable.
Acpo was once a liaison group. But, like all bureaucracies, it has grown. It now runs its own police forces under a police chief boss, Sir Hugh Orde, like a British FBI. It trades on its own account, generating revenue by selling data from the police national computer for £70 an item (cost of retrieval, 60p). It owns an estate of 80 flats in central London. While the generous logistical support it offered the greens was doubtless gratis, we do not know if E.ON UK, the operator of Ratcliffe-on-Soar power station, paid for security intelligence from Kennedy.
George Monbiot, the Guardian, April 2011: One good thing can come of Mark Kennedy saga – disbanding of ACPO:
it has been running what is, in effect, a private militia in the United Kingdom. Until the Kennedy revelations made its role impossible to sustain, it controlled a number of police units, employing public servants to perform tasks over which there was no direct state control. As so often happens where accountability fails, the units worked for those who have power, against those who don't.
Their activities go far beyond the constitutional role of the police, straying into work that is blatantly political. When, for example, local people in Oxfordshire protested peacefully against RWE npower's plan to fill the beautiful lake where they swam and picnicked with pulverised fly ash from Didcot power station, NETCU slapped them on its list of "domestic extremists". They had broken no laws and done nothing extreme.
it is becoming obvious that police chiefs in this country are out of control. They appear to see their role as protecting corporate power against the people, regardless of what the law says. To this end they are spending both public money and private money extracted from public hands, without obvious lines of accountability or constitutional authority.
They are behaving as you would have expected the Guardia Civil under Francisco Franco to behave: working for private interests against the public interest.

This is what we saw today: the ACPO, a private company, deciding that because they don't like 20mph laws, their officers won't enforce them. They don't exist. The signage, the effort, a complete waste.

Who is it making these decisions? Senior policemen who get driven round in chauffered cars. Policemen who clearly view the environmental movement as a threat. The policemen in charge of decisions to prosecute people from the Olympic Critical Mass.

Whether we want it or not: they are the enemy.

It won't matter what the national politicians do after this report, if they stop being a group of weasel worded "we give this our consideration" liars -because the ACPO will simply override them.

They are The Man.


  1. ACPO aren't entirely exempt from Freedom of Information legislation. They were designated as a public authority for FOI purposes in 2011.

  2. Is it not now Police & Crime Commissioners who determine policing priorities, for their own constabularies?

    If so, we need to get to work on them!