Glasgow Cops pound Facebook to blunt knife crime
Der's not bin a murrrdherrrr
Strathclyde Police are confronting their trainee bobbies with the harsh realities of 21st century policing by making them trawl Facebook looking for ne'er-do-wells flashing knives and other offensive items.
Once upon a time any crim thinking of tooling himself up would have lived in fear of Dixon of Dock Green looming out of a darkened alley to feel their collars or of tripping over Taggart while he was keeping his ear to the ground outside the villains' local.
Now BBC's Newsbeat - news for people with an attention span as long as the average 4/4 drum loop - reports that Constable Holly McGee and Cadet Fraser Reed, both 18, are ensuring shanks stay off the street and that baseball bats are only used for hitting regulation baseballs by dredging Facebook for pics of hoodies and gangbangers touting their offensive tools.
"We're looking for anyone who is brandishing offensive weapons or blades," Holly told Newsbeat. "We take the date, the time, detail of what's in the photograph, [then] a copy of the photograph is printed out and thereafter it's all sent to the gangs task force unit."
The info is then passed on to "more experienced officers in the Violence Reduction Unit". These bobbies actually go and tackle the potential crims.
Gang members posing with weapons in public are committing an offence, the force reckons, and can expect to be arrested. Even those who pose with their tools in the privacy of their own homes are living in fear, apparently. "We show the parents their pictures," explained Superintendent Bob Hamilton.
If this wasn't enough to make the young scoundrels beat their flick knives into plough shares, Hamilton warns that the Glasgow cops "recover the weapons and make sure they know that behaviour is unacceptable".
Personally, we still hanker back to the days when the Special Patrol Group would tackle any local upsurge in violent crime by chucking anyone they didn't like the look of into the back of a van for a little drive around and a friendly chat. But then again, that kind of behaviour isn't likely to build up your Friends List, is it? ®
"Can anyone give a concrete example of when your civil liberties being violated is a bad thing? And can it be balanced against potentially detecting a large portion of criminal elements?"
How about when the police prevent anti-war protesters from attending a legal demonstration on the grounds that they might breach the peace, i.e. upset the government.
"Wouldn't you be a fan of it if your wife / mother / daughter / girlfriend was raped and they used the database to catch the perpetrator?"
You're only one step away from "Won't someone think of the children?!!" Would you still be a fan if you or your father/brother/son was wrongly accused or convicted because of DNA found at the scene or evidence that was (deliberately) cross-contaminated?
Fishing expeditions are wrong because they allow the police to trawl for far more than just evidence of wrong-doing. Instead of evidence-based investigation, suspects are identified by profiling and all of a sudden, you're getting a 4am knock on the door because you visited a vegetarian cookery website, bought some garden fertilizer and topped your car up with diesel, all on the same day. You must be an animal rights terrorist!
However much you trust the current authorities not to abuse their powers, can you be certain all future administrations will be just as trustworthy?
Sorry, you missed my point completely. They are potential criminals because until they are found guilty they are innocent. They are only incriminating themselves if they were actually breaking the law. I know the police and most probably the government would absolutely love to not have to bother with all the hassle of actually proving someone guilty, but thankfully, just because they or you decide someone is guilty, it does not make them so. A court decides that. I can think of a number of reasons why a photo of someone with a weapon outside would not make them guilty of breaking any laws. Maybe it was taken outside of Scotland or maybe it was taken on private property, which I'm assuming the law doesn't cover as it is not a public place.
Anyway, I'm not against the idea, if it helps then good. I suspect there may be better ways to reduce knife crime but I'm fairly sure they would rely on having more police and so more cost, certainly a lot more cost than sticking a couple of trainees in front of a computer.
just doing their job
Just had a delightful little chat with "The Polis", after they came round as a picture of me waving a fencing sabre around (about as blunt as a car aerial) matched their criteria "for investigation".
The picture was taken at a fencing competition. I have a license to carry swords like that, and most of the time they're in a padlocked sports bag (don't want them stolen)- which was clearly explained to two of the local constabulary's finest - alas, they have told me that unless I give them a very good reason why I should have such an arsenal [5 "swords"] , I may be charged.
Good job they didn't look at the bookshelf- with my Uni chemistry textbooks, could be taken away as a danger to society