Policy Guide: Crime and Justice

As the election date nears, it’s time to look at what each party has said it will do in their manifesto. This guide will cover the issues surrounding policing, crime, and security.

Labour:

The Labour party wants to try and eliminate institutional bias against BAME employees within the police force and other public institutions. They also want to reform the way the police is funded. This is to make sure that sufficient and sustainable resources are fairly allocated across the force. As well as those, Labour also wants to work with police forces to help tackle the rise in violent crime and cybercrime that was seen under the Conservatives. Another key issue raised in the manifesto was that Labour wanted to ensure better training regarding domestic abuse and offenses arising from controlling behaviour. They also want to focus on historical abuse cases and other crimes that were neglected by the smaller forces under the Conservatives.

In regards to national security, Labour wants to take effective measures against a growing problem of extreme or violent radicalisation. They say they will ensure closer counter terrorism co-ordination between the police and the security services.

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Labour Leader Jeremy Corbyn at their Manifesto Launch

Conservatives: 

The Conservative party, like Labour, aims to increase resources for the police and introduce the Police Covenant to make sure they have the support they need. They also want to introduce tougher sentencing for the worst offenders and end automatic halfway release from prison for serious crimes. For child murderers, there will be life imprisonment without parole. The Tories also say with the new freedoms they will have after Brexit, they will prevent more foreign national offenders entering our country.

Another policy is to strengthen the National Crime Agency so it can threats faced from fraud, county lines gangs and child sexual abuse to illicit finance, modern slavery and people trafficking. They also say they will make 10,000 more prison places, with £2.75 billion committed to refurbishing and creating modern prisons.  

The Tories say they will continue to fight crime against women and girls, including rape, Female Genital Mutilation and forced marriage. Their support for the main carer receiving Universal Credit will help give greater independence to individuals, most often women, trapped with coercive partners. They will also combat harassment and violence against all religious groups, and against LGBT people.

They pledge to make the UK the safest place in the world to be online, with the aim of protecting children from online abuse and harms, protecting the most vulnerable from accessing harmful content, and ensuring there is no safe space for terrorists to hide online but at the same time defending freedom of expression and in particular recognising and defending the invaluable role of a free press.

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Prime Minister, Boris Johnson

Green Party:

The Green party has said they will significantly reduce the number of short-term prison sentences handed out, replacing them with restorative justice projects that have a better record of preventing reoffending. They also say they will end the war on drugs, which has trapped hundreds of thousands of people into lives of crime and treat drug addiction as a health condition, not a crime.

The Greens also want to enhance the rehabilitation services on offer to long-term prisoners, commissioning rehabilitation services that have a track record of success. They will also support and develop a network of specialist women’s centres in order to reduce the female prison population. As well as these centers, they also want to invest  in youth services and centres, to help turn at-risk children away from crime and also invest in specialist programmes provided through youth centres.

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Co-Leaders of the Green Party – Johnathan Bartley and Sian Berry

Liberal Democrats:

The Liberal Democrats say they will invest £1 billion to restore community policing, enough for two new police officers in every ward, and introduce a target of one hour for handover of people suffering from mental health crisis from police to mental health services and support the police to achieve adequate levels of training in mental health response. They would also like to end the disproportionate use of Stop and Search.

Another aim is to properly resource the National Crime Agency to combat serious and organised crime, and tackle modern slavery and human trafficking.

The Lib Dems also want to stop Brexit and maintain the European crime-fighting tools including: Europol, the European Arrest Warrant and direct access to shared police databases.

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Lib Dem leader Jo Swindon launching a stop Brexit Manifesto

Brexit Party:

The Brexit party only had three policies related to crime. They were to increase police numbers and have more visible policing, ensure focus on combating violent crime, robbery and burglary rather than enforcing restrictions on free speech. They also want to target the menace of County Lines drug dealers, gangs and the growth of knife crime.
The third policy was to abolish distortive targets and introduce sentence ‘ranges’ for young offenders, to encourage rehabilitation.

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Nigel Farage makes a pledge to the public rather than a manifesto

Amazon CEO unveils Blue Moon spaceship

A mock-up of the new spacecraft named Blue Moon has hopes to get people back on the Moon by 2024.

Bezos’ secretive space company Blue Origin has said it will land a large unmanned robotic ship on the Moon.

The reusable lunar lander is known as Blue Moon and is capable of carrying four lunar rovers. It will feature BE-7, a newly designed rocket engine called that can blast 10,000lb of thrust.

Bezos also unveiled one of the new lunar rovers which is about the same size as a golf buggy.

Earlier this year, US government announced a plan to return to the Moon by 2024. In the speech where he announced the space craft, Mr Bezos also said that Blue Origin would be able to meet the president’s deadline, however it’s “only because” Blue Origin had begun designing the lunar craft back in 2016.

Bezos also spoke of a vision of a future where millions of people live and work in space. He spoke about the importance of the colonisation of space and mentioned two important issues: cutting down on launch costs and the use of resources that are already in space.

Fellow billionaire Elon Musk teased Bezos’ space colony dreams with a tweet with an edited picture of the craft with the word “Moon” wiped off the photo and replaced with “Balls”.

Elon Musk, the SpaceX and Tesla, Inc. CEO, has said he will provide a public update on the development status of his spaceships Starship and Super Heavy in an official presentation later this summer.

Bezos’ announcement has a created a new addition to the competition to the current space race between Virgin Galactic and SpaceX.

PUBG replaced in China by ‘patriotic’ game

Developer Tencent has replaced PUBG (PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds) with a game that fits the Chinese socialist views after failing to collect revenue from the game.

Following their failure to get the necessary approval to offer in-app purchases meaning Tencent couldn’t make money from the game due to the game being deemed too gory.

Instead, players have been offered a patriotic version of the game that celebrates China’s air force that is also less violent.

Tencent have said that the two titles are from “very different genres.” This was after suggestions that the new game, Game for Peace, is intended as a substitute for PUBG.

Game for Peace is based on PUBG, and looks near identical, however theme core theme of the game is markedly different to its better known counterpart. While the main game is battle royale shooter, Game for Peace is a celebration of the Chinese air force with an anti-terrorist outlook, any gory elements have been removed. This is especially clear with the death animations, where instead of bleeding and dying, the character will kneel, wave goodbye, and drop loot.

It is unclear whether or not this will hold the same appeal as the original game, but one thing to tempt existing PUBG players is that once they update the game, they’ll be returned to the same level they left off. Many fans who have been playing the updated game have suggested that the changes are humorous, with one Weibo user saying that “When you shoot people, they don’t bleed, and the dead get up and wave goodbye!”. Other users have commented on the new socialist theme, but many have suggested that game is practically the same as PUBG, albeit with some minor changes.

More importantly to Tencent, Game for Peace has been given monetisation approval in April. Game for Peace is also currently the most downloaded free game and top-grossing game in Apple’s China App Store.

 

Facebook to merge WhatsApp and Instagram messengers

Facebook has plans to merge its own Messenger with Instagram and WhatsApp to allow users to communicate across the different platforms.

The tech giant has announced that it plans to have a shared core for all of the messaging apps.

Facebook has said that it is at the start of a “long process”.

It is believed that these plans come from Mark Zuckerburg, Facebook’s CEO.

In a press release Facebook said it wanted to “build the best messaging experiences we can; and people want messaging to be fast, simple, reliable and private.”

Integrating the messaging parts might simplify Facebook’s work, allowing them to control all 3 apps in one place.

These plans come amidst Facebook’s privacy scandals to do with advertising and Russian interference, and more recently the apparent implication of self harm posts on Instagram that allegedly lead to the suicide of 14 year old Molly Russell in 2017.

Facebook is also looking at adding encryption to these platforms along with the merger. “We’re working on making more of our messaging products end-to-end encrypted and considering ways to make it easier to reach friends and family across networks,” said a spokesperson for Facebook.

Facebook is aiming to have implemented their cross-platform plan by the end of 2019.

Facebook is adding a new petitions feature

Facebook will introduce a new feature called Community Actions which will allow members of a community to have their say in what happens in their area.

This new feature will give people the opportunity to express their view on something they would like to happen in their local community.

Users will be able to request change from their local government bodies or elected officials.

Supporters of the petitions are able to discuss the topic with others, leave comments, and create events such as fundraisers.

The launch of Community Actions is part of a larger effort by the Facebook to build “informed and civically engaged communities,” a spokesperson said.

Community Actions has been launched across the US today after several weeks of trial runs. The addition of the feature is to simplify how people use petitions on Facebook. Before, people could share petitions from websites such as change.org, but now it can be done directly through Facebook itself.

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An example of the sort of topics people will be able to discuss

Facebook will be monitoring all the Community Actions on its site, with human moderators along with user flagging and algorithmic detection to make sure that the petitions aren’t hateful or abusive. Also, some government officials will be given a “constituents” badge, ensuring that people know when a government representative has commented on the post.

Facebook has launched several features that involve the engagement of communities in recent years, like the Town Hall feature that allowed users to locate, follow and contact government representatives.

Eleanor Clough-Delaney works a lot with local her local community in Streatham Hill and organises events such as an annual street party. She gives her opinion on this new feature;

“[Petitions] can give single people a voice in unison with other like minded people and give them the benefit of a ‘hive’ group to feel solidarity with. There’s safety and strength in numbers.”.

Hyundai Elevate: walking rescue vehicle unveiled

Hyundai has revealed a new way to aid first responders to natural disasters. The Elevate is a car which has robotic legs to “allow users to drive, walk or even climb over the most treacherous terrain”.

The Elevate was designed to be able to reach areas that would normally be inaccessible after a natural disaster, whether it be rough terrain or snowed in roads.

Design manager David Byron said that the Elevate “has the ability to take people where no car has been before, and redefine our perception of vehicular freedom”.

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There are four robotic legs that extend from the body. These legs give the vehicle the option of driving, walking or climbing in any direction across different landscapes. Hyundai vice president John Suh spoke about how the Elevate can overcome issues that current emergency vehicles. “When a tsunami or earthquake hits, current rescue vehicles can only deliver first responders to the edge of the debris field. They have to go the rest of the way by foot. Elevate can drive to the scene and climb right over flood debris or crumbled concrete”.

This technology aims to revolutionise the way that search and rescue is carried out. There are also smaller scale applications for the Elevate. One of the images released by Hyundai depicts an Elevate with a taxi livery, and it is helping a wheelchair user climb get to the top of a flight of stairs. This demonstrates how such technology could make travelling easier for passengers in difficult environments, such as cities.

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The Elevate helps a wheelchair user

While the Elevate may not reach production, Prof David Bailey from Aston Business School believes that the technology may live on. “For most of us, it’s going to be wheels and roads but in extreme situations there may be scope for this sort of thing. There may well be applications in terms of emergency services”.

Home Office condemned after Windrush deportees aren’t contacted

The Home Office has been criticised for not attempting to contact people who were wrongly deported as part of the Windrush scandal.

Green Party MP Caroline Lucas said to home office minister that no “specific attempt” has been made to contact the 49 people concerned who were deported between March and September 2017 to Ghana and Nigeria.

Caroline Nokes, Home Office Minister, has said that those involved could visit a Government website for information, or call the helpline.

The Windrush scandal arose concerns members of the Commonwealth who were wrongly deported, arrested and denied legal rights by the Home Office after being told they didn’t need documents to live and work in the UK.

The scandal lead to the resignation of Amber Rudd, and an apology from the Prime Minister to Caribbean leaders.

Shadow home secretary Diane Abbott said that the case highlighted how “reckless and incompetent” the government’s immigration policy was.

In Nokes’ response to Lucas’ questions, she said that before any enforced removal, all individuals are told why they are liable for removal and the destination for removal.

Lucas has said that it was the “the moral responsibility of the government” to track down those affected.

Founder of anti-austerity organisation Black Activists Rising Against Cuts and vice president of trade union PCS, Zita Holbourne, called it “a disgrace”.

Satbir Singh, the chief executive of the Joint Council for the Welfare of Immigrants has said that if “the Home Office has the capacity to deny somebody their rights, to separate them from their loved ones and remove them from the country, surely it has the capacity to find them, to apologise and to help them come home”.

 

 

 

 

 

Matthew Hedges pardoned by UAE with “immediate effect”

British academic Matthew Hedges has been pardoned by UAE with “gracious clemency” 5 days into a life jail sentence for spying.

31 year old Matthew Hedges has been pardoned by the UAE government after he was jailed for life on the 21st of November.

His wife, Daniela Tejada, tweeted that she had “been brought back to life” after hearing the news, and gave thanks for all the support she’d received.

Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt said he could be released “very soon”, saying that the UK government had “never seen any evidence” the spying charges had any basis.

Mr Hunt tweeted that he was glad that Hedges was out, but said that it was a “bittersweet moment as we remember Nazanin & other innocent [people] detained in Iran”.

The UAE issued the pardon as part of a series of their 47th National Day anniversary.

However, a spokesman said Matthew Hedges was “a part-time PhD researcher, a part-time businessman, but he was a 100-percent a full-time secret service operative”.

The UAE said that he was collecting information pertaining to the military, and also sensitive economic data.

Authorities in the UAE have reportedly released a video that shows him admitting he is working undercover for MI6.

Hedges was originally detained at Dubai Airport as he attempted to leave the country on the 5th of May.

Bridges attended Durham University and was in the UAE to research its security strategy.

Durham University have said in a statement that they would be “we will be thrilled to welcome him back to the Durham University community”

Bridges has been released and is currently on his way to the British embassy, according to a family spokesperson.

Met Chief wants focus on traditional crime

Met Chief believes there should be a focus in preventing violent crime.

Metropolitan Police Commissioner Cressida Dick has “absolutely” agreed with Chief Constable Sara Thornton, saying there should be a focus on violent crimes.

On the Radio 4 Today programme, she agreed with Sara Thornton’s comments about how the police “do not have the resources to do everything”.

The Commissioner added that “violent crime is too high in London”, citing examples like terrorism, sexual offences and domestic abuse, and stated it will be her priority to attempt to tackle these issues.

Since 2010, police chiefs have said that police funding in England and Wales has been cut by nearly a fifth, and there are fewer than 20,000 officers employed by the police forces nationwide.

In an interview, Chief Constable Sara Thornton has said that “treating misogyny as a hate crime is a concern for some well-organised campaigning organisations”, and said that the force doesn’t have the resources to deal with everything. She also said that police are stretched to deal with “deserving” cases, such as misogyny.

Following on, Dick commented that certain things “may not be the job of the police and is not appropriate for [them] to deal with”.

Sue Fish, the former Chief Constable of Nottinghamshire Police, told BBC Radio 4’s The World at One that Ms Thornton’s comments were “shameful”.

In reference to ‘tradition values’, she said that “policing by consent, local policing and in particular our core values of courage, professionalism, integrity and of compassion”

The Mayor of London and City Hall launched a new Violent Crime Task Force in April. The £15 million task force will focus solely on violent crime, weapon-enabled crime and serious criminality. Since being launched they have made 1,804 arrests, sized 438 knives, and recovered 323 offensive weapons, including 160 firearms. As well as the task force, an additional £140 million is being invested in the Metropolitan Police Force.