Tag Archives: police

ACAB? Defund The Police? How should we respond to Black Lives Matter?

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The Black Lives Matter movement has been making headlines since the brutal murder of George Floyd at the hands of the police. Protests started in America but have made there way over here and are happening up and down the UK. But, despite promoting equality, Black Lives Matter hasn’t been universally praised.

Along with a desire to expose injustice and systemic racism, Black Lives Matter organisations have laid out a policy platform aimed at defunding, and potentially abolishing, the police force and dismantling capitalism. These are bold and controversial ideas which have led to some people arguing against the movement as a whole. Should liberally minded people write off the hashtags of #ACAB and #Defund? Or are there policy ideas we can work with to reach the free fair and open society we’re fighting for?

Keir Starmer told BBC Breakfast that the idea of defunding the police is nonsense and he doesn’t support it. This was met with a wave of criticism from Labour supporters and Black Lives Matter protestors. I agree with their criticism of his response and think Starmer, like many others, has misinterpreted the phrase and not looked past the hyperbole. The Lib Dems and others should learn from this when they’re asked about the idea. Abolitionist policies clearly won’t carry much support right now, the police do amazing jobs in many areas, but the concept behind “defund” isn’t discrediting the police and needs a more nuanced look.

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Wendy Chamberlain recounts her first experience of violence against Police Officers

This week, the Commons debated a Statutory Instrument which introduces Police Restitution Orders in Scotland. This means that fines can be levied and the money from those will be used to finance extra support for Police officers who suffer from the effects of those assaults.

Wendy used to be a Police Officer, as were her father and husband. All of them suffered violent assault. Wendy described the first time it happened to her:

I, my father and my husband have all served, and I have other family members currently serving in Police Scotland. All of us were assaulted during our police careers. My husband was knocked unconscious during the policing of a football match. My father was head-butted by a prisoner in the police cells and required stitches.

My own most vivid memory is from early in my police career—within months of leaving initial training at the police college in Tulliallan in fact. It relates to attending a call about a report of a domestic dispute in a high-rise block of flats in Edinburgh. On arrival at the landing in question, my tutor and I could hear a loud argument and decided to call for additional officers to make their way to support us in case they were required. I am glad we did so. The door was answered by a man who, after telling us where to go, was then attacked by his girlfriend, but from behind with a knife. A toddler was visible at the back of the flat hallway. My colleague managed to baton the knife from the women’s grasp, and in anger both of them then turned on us, and a violent struggle ensued.​

Luckily for us, colleagues came quickly, and both people were arrested. The man, in particular, struggled violently throughout the arrest and attempted to spit at all the officers, claiming that he was HIV-positive. It then transpired that he had been responsible for an assault and robbery nearby earlier that evening. Other than bruising, my colleague and I were unharmed, but it was a salutary lesson to me in being prepared for any eventuality and in being responsive to events.

Her whole speech follows:

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Wendy Chamberlain: I used to be a Police Officer, now I worry about them being given more power

I, like virtually everyone else in this country, am taking this lockdown business very seriously. In fact, I think my anxiety about  Coronavirus is going to skyrocket in that intervening period between the most restrictive measures ending and the advent of a cure or vaccine. My husband is not quite as high risk as you can get, but he’s well on the way and when I read the small print, I’m high risk for complications from Covid-19 too. So I’m actually quite happy being at home at the moment. I realise that I am very lucky to be able to spend that time with people and dogs that I love, and to have a garden that I can sit out in. I am very aware that some people are on their own, or trapped with abusive partners, or are stuck in a flat.

It’s really strange to say that I haven’t been to a shop in a month. No more just nipping up to the Co-op to get rice when you realise you haven’t got any and the curry has been bubbling away in the oven for hours. It is really strange to think how well we have adapted to what are colossal infringements on our freedoms. News reports from intensive care units are more effective than any law enforcement approach.

But I do feel slightly uneasy whenever I see police vans heading into the park across the road from our house. Whenever I have been there, virtually everyone is keeping their distance. Ok, so there is the very occasional strange looking household walking together but the rules are pretty much enforcing themselves. And if I saw someone sitting on a bench, I’d think that they needed a rest. Not everyone can walk uninterrupted for an hour or so.

Even if they were very polite about it, I would still bristle a bit if a Police Officer were to ask me what I was doing in the park when the answer, given that I am usually accompanied by my dog, would be obvious. I think that is an ok way for a liberal to feel. We should always be aware of who holds power over us and assess whether they are using it appropriately. And if they aren’t, then they need to be challenged through the relevant complaints procedures.

Police suggesting they might be having a nosey through people’s shopping trolleys to look for “non-essential” stuff, even if their bosses backtrack later, or telling a family they can’t play in their front garden., are clear examples of when their approach goes too far.

This week, Lib Dem MP and former Police Officer Wendy Chamberlain wrote in the Metro about how she was worried about how they exercised their new powers.

What should they be doing?

Just as the air raid wardens kept communities safe during the Second World War by making sure people observed the blackouts, now we rely on police officers to keep us safe from coronavirus by making sure we observe the lockdown. Like everyone on the frontline of this crisis, our police are doing a very difficult job in extremely difficult circumstances. They not only have to enforce the new emergency laws, but also tackle other types of crime.

But we must be very careful to ensure that these powers are not used in a discriminatory way:

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Fresh police guidance says that it’s OK to drive a reasonable distance for exercise

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Following on from a couple of posts here about policing the Covid-19 restrictions, the police have been issued with fresh guidance on the matter, as reported by the Guardian:

Police chiefs have told officers that people should not be punished for driving a reasonable distance to exercise, and that blanket checks were disproportionate, in a bid to quell a row about heavy-handed enforcement of the coronavirus lockdown.

Amid anger at some forces setting up checkpoints and using drones to target people visiting rural beauty spots, the guidance reissued and updated late on Tuesday aims to forge more consistency across 44 forces in England and Wales.

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The noble principle of policing by consent

In the UK there exists a principle, harking back to the days of Sir Robert Peel. This long held tradition and principle is called policing by consent. This is essentially the idea that police legitimacy is based on the consent of those it polices. This vital bond, between citizen and state is one that should be held with the upmost regard. When our nation is in crisis, as it arguably is now, the rule of law becomes more, not less, important. This vital principle has almost passed unnoticed in recent weeks as the UK government has brought in strict legislation to help mitigate Covid-19.

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In a liberal society, should police be using roadblocks and drones to enforce the virus lockdown?

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The Guardian reports that the police are using roadblocks and drones to enforce the virus lockdown:

Derbyshire police tweeted drone footage taken near Curbar Edge, in the Peak District, and said they had checked the numberplates of vehicles in the car park and found that some cars were registered to addresses in Sheffield, a 30-minute drive away.

…In North Yorkshire, police said they would set up checkpoints to determine if drivers’ journeys were essential. The move was being introduced to ensure motorists are complying with government restrictions, North Yorkshire police said.

Officers will be stopping vehicles and asking motorists where they are going, why they are going there, and reminding them of the message to stay at home, protect the NHS and save lives,” the force said in a statement. The checkpoints will be unannounced and could be anywhere across the county.

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The thin blue line is too thin and we do not sufficiently punish those who attack the police

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I’m going to sound like a misty-eyed old fossil now, but often I find my base reference point, with respect to the police, was the actor Jack Warner playing “Dixon of Dock Green“.

Yes, I know most people under 60 years old won’t remember him. Yes, I know “Dixon of Dock Green” probably gave an idealised version of law and order even when it was broadcast from 1955 until 1976.

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19 July 2019 – live from Brecon, today’s press releases…

  • Lib Dems bring forward legislation to protect EU citizens
  • Lib Dems: Govt must provide urgent clarity on teachers’ pay
  • Lib Dem legislation to protect victims of crime passes second reading
  • Davey: Govt must fund police pay rise
  • Umunna slams economically incompetent Tories
  • Swinson: This is a time for cool heads in the Gulf

Lib Dems bring forward legislation to protect EU citizens

Today, the Liberal Democrats have brought forward a bill to safeguard EU citizens’ rights.

The Bill brought forward by Liberal Democrat peer Jonny Oates would provide a guarantee that, regardless of the outcome of Brexit, the rights of EU citizens and other EEA nationals living in …

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5 February 2019 – today’s press releases (part 2)

… and here are the rest!

  • A Second Chance for the Swansea Tidal Lagoon
  • Lib Dems oppose “shockingly complacent” Tory funding for police
  • Cable: PM speech proves the Govt has run out of ideas
  • Brexit Bribes Breach Bribery Act – Welsh Lib Dems

A Second Chance for the Swansea Tidal Lagoon

The Welsh Liberal Democrats have welcomed plans from Tidal Lagoon Power to build the Swansea Tidal Lagoon without the need for funding from the UK Government.

Last year the UK Government decided not to support the Swansea Tidal Lagoon, despite the strong support the lagoon enjoyed from experts, businesses, local government, Welsh Government and politicians across …

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29 October 2018 – today’s press releases (part one)

Budget Day always generates a lot of press coverage, and this year is no exception, but there have been plenty of other issues worthy of comment. Indeed, there has been so much that I’ve been forced to do this in two parts…

Welsh Lib Dems – Budget a Golden Opportunity

Ahead of the UK Government’s budget, the Welsh Liberal Democrats have urged Chancellor Phillip Hammond to seize the opportunity the budget presents to end austerity and create a fairer, more prosperous Wales.

The Welsh Liberal Democrats are calling on the UK Government to stop Brexit, fix Britain’s broken tax system, fund public services …

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18 October 2018 – today’s press releases

Extending transition period another embarrassing climbdown

Responding to the news that Theresa May is open to extending the transition period, Liberal Democrat Brexit Spokesperson Tom Brake said:

Theresa May once argued that we didn’t need a transition period at all. Admitting that an extension is on the table, and the billions it would cost, is yet another in a long list of embarrassing climbdowns for this Tory Government.

The blame for this mess falls squarely at the Prime Minister’s feet. Over the last two years, her Government has failed to find solutions to

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Ed Davey: Brexit threatens our safety

The report, titled ”Negotiating Brexit: policing and criminal justice’, says the failure to secure a new agreement on policing and criminal justice after Brexit will make it harder to extradite dangerous criminals from the UK and reduce the number of people brought back to Britain to face justice.

The report highlights 3 main dangers even if Theresa May’s current position is accepted by the EU:

Extraditing dangerous criminals from the UK would be slower and morebureaucratic. Currently the UK extradites more than 1,000 people a year to the rest of the EU, using the European Arrest Warrant (EAW). Reverting to the previous, politicised, system of extradition would reduce that number.

New barriers would reduce the number of people brought back to the UK to facejustice. Every year, around 100 people are extradited from the rest of the EU to the UK. Without a deal, it will be harder for the UK to bring people who are suspected ofcommitting crimes here, and who have fled to the EU, back to face trial.

Law enforcement agencies would find it harder to get crucial information for investigations, as UK authorities will lose access to huge EU-wide databases. These include the second-generation Schengen Information System (SIS II), which stores information on missing and wanted individuals and objects.

Ed Davey said:

The Institute for Government is absolutely right to raise the alarm about Brexit’s effect on crime and policing.

The Liberal Democrats have long been warning that losing the European Arrest Warrant, information-sharing arrangements and leadership of Europol will make it harder to keep people safe and bring criminals to justice.

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Ed Davey says arming all police would be “disproportionate”

National Police Chiefs have said that rural police officers might end up carrying guns because of a lack of specialist counter-terrorist officers.

Ed Davey has said that this would be a disproportionate move.

Police Officers carry out dangerous and often lifesaving work on our behalf, not least in the face of ongoing threats including terrorism. We must therefore ensure that armed officers are able to respond quickly to situations.

However, any move towards routinely arming officers would be totally disproportionate and contrary to the principle of policing by consent.

There needs to be sensible guidelines in place to ensure that armed officers on

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Ed Davey to call for more investment in community policing

In Scotland, the Liberal Democrats have become the go-to party on Police issues because of our long record of opposing the disastrous merger of Scotland’s Police Force.

Willie Rennie, Justice Spokesperson Liam McArthur and his predecessor Alison McInnes have criticised the Police over things like inappropriate use of stop and search or routine patrolling with firearms but they have also highlighted the stress that frontline officers are facing and raised the flaws in the new management.

He will say:

Effective, well-resourced policing is fundamental to protecting our freedoms and helping the most vulnerable in society.

Liberal Democrats’ commitment to civil liberties and

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Willie Rennie’s Christmas Message: Scottish Lib Dems stand up for better mental health, education and police services

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Here is Willie Rennie’s Christmas Message:

May I wish everyone a Merry Christmas.

2017 was the year the Liberal Democrats turned the corner. We started winning elections again with more MPs and in charge of more councils. I believe that winning is not just good for the Liberal Democrats but is also good for the country.

It means that we have moderate, outward looking, optimistic voices making the case for change and challenging authority and government.

It means that we can shout louder for people who need mental health services. The services are inadequate and must change.

It means we can challenge with greater impact the government and police chiefs on the running of Police Scotland. Without the Liberal Democrats many of the problems of Police Scotland would have gone untested and unchallenged.

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Police facing £125m real-terms cut

The party has criticised the government after it emerged the Home Office police grant for 2018-19 will remain exactly the same as this year, meaning police forces will see the equivalent of a £125m real-terms cut once inflation is taken into account.

The Home Office Police Core Settlement announced today for 2018/19 is £4,054,533,651 (link, p.3), which is exactly the same as in 2017/18 (link, p.6).

If funding had kept pace with annual inflation of 3.1%, it would have been increased by £125.7m (Office for National …

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Autumn Budget – what our Spokespeople say

The Lib Dems have been hot off the mark with what this Autumn Budget doesn’t do.  Here are 7 failures.

And leading Lib Dems have been speaking out about what the budget really means:

Leader of the Lib Dems Vince Cable MP says

Each person in Britain is set to be £687 worse off per year compared to forecasts before the election.

And as living standards are squeezed, the Government is setting aside £3.7bn to cover the cost of a ‘no deal’ Brexit.

The Chancellor found more money in the Budget to plan for Brexit than he did for our struggling NHS, schools and police.

Liberal

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Economic Implications of Autumn Budget

Liberal Democrat Brexit Spokesperson Tom Brake commented:

“Instead of a bright future for Britain, Conservative plans will see a £65bn hit to tax receipts, slashed wages and higher borrowing.

The Government found £3bn to spend on Brexit, but nothing for our police or social care.

The Chancellor has completely failed to show the ambition needed to tackle the housing crisis, build the infrastructure the country needs or fix Universal Credit.”

And here is the breakdown of the economic costs:

1. £65bn hit to tax receipts: Tax receipts have been downgraded by £65.4 billion over the five-year period compare to …

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LibLink: Sir Ed Davey: Chancellor must properly fund community policing

Ed Davey has written for Politics Home about the need for proper funding of community policing.

He outlined what has been happening in recent years:

We are seeing the police disappearing off our streets, clearing the way for criminals. After years of falling crime rates the latest statistics show a 13% increase recorded crime across England and Wales, and even steeper increases for violent offences including knife crime. That is why I am leading a debate in Parliament on the issue of police funding ahead of the Budget.

It also leads to the Met Police saying they aren’t going to investigate so-called “low …

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Lib Dems to fund £300m a year extra for the police

Today’s big Lib Dem policy is an extra £300m a year for the police over the next Parliament.

Under Theresa May at the Home Office, and now as Prime Minister, the police have suffered over £2.2 billion worth of cuts in real terms. This represents a 22% real terms reduction.

As of 31 March 2016 the total strength of the 43 police forces in England & Wales reached just over 124,000 FTE officers. This is the lowest number of police officers recorded under the current strength measure.

Commenting on the announcement Lib Dem Home Affairs spokesperson, and former Deputy Assistant Commissioner of the …

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Brian Paddick reveals that over a million days of police time were lost to mental ill health

Even with the best of resources, the job of a police officer is highly stressful. They deal with the most difficult of human circumstances – and often the most dangerous, too.

You would hope that police forces would be mindful of this and would ensure that the mental health of officers was properly looked after. However, research carried out by the Liberal Democrats show that 1.4 million days of police time were lost in the last three years due to mental ill health of both officers and community support officers.

This is worrying both in terms of the impact on the individual officers and on the effectiveness of the force.

Lib Dem Peer Brian Paddick has called for the government to take action to boost the mental health of police officers:

The figures show that mental ill health is widespread among the police service. Frontline officers deal with relentless trauma over years. This issue hasn’t been adequately addressed so far and the government must look at how they address this.

There is a stigma that is deeply embedded in the culture of the police service and it is now time to break it.

Many officers both serving and retired who deal with mental ill health want to be diagnosed and treated more quickly.

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Just when you thought Police and Crime Commissioners couldn’t get worse

Police helmet

As a Party we have never been fans. Some even suggested (mistakenly in my view) that the concept was so bad that we should boycott the elections in 2012.

The idea that one person (usually a white man) should have such a significant say on such a sensitive area as policing – and often over an area covering several counties – was clearly absurd. It still is.

The Government is already thinking of giving PCCs the control of fire authorities on the time-honoured principle of ‘if it’s not broke, then fix …

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Simon Hughes calls for CPS and Police to look again at Poppi Worthington case

Former Liberal Democrat Justice Minister Simon Hughes has called for the Police and CPS to look again at the investigation into the death of 13 month old Poppi Worthington. He said:

There is an investigation by the IPCC about whether police did their job properly in this case and due to be a second inquest into Poppi’s death. I’m sure Cumbria Police and the CPS will now also want to look again at the evidence in the public domain.
“In the light of the public judgment in the family court case, police and the CPS should now reopen and review this case. If our justice system is about justice for the deceased as well as the living and above all about the welfare of children still alive, then it must be in the general interests of justice that there is a further review of this case.

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Lord Tony Greaves writes…Crisis on the streets of Lancashire

When the new lot all arrive we’ll have 112 Liberal Democrat peers and we need to use them. For some of us that means local as well as national stuff since some of us are still actively campaigning in our local areas! So when changes to the police funding formula were announced that mean one of the best forces in the country risks being “annihilated”, in the word of the commissioner, it was time to put down a topical question in the Lords.

The Lancashire police force is “outstanding”. That’s the conclusion of the review of police force efficiency by Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary. It’s one of the most cost effective police forces in the country at only 49p per head, it’s made savings of £74m since 2010, yet it will be hammered by further cuts up to £161m. Police officers will drop from 3,611 in 2010 to 1,699 in 2020 and the PCSOs (community support officers) will disappear. Chief Constable Steve Finnigan says these cuts would severely limit the capabilities of Lancashire Constabulary which by 2020 will only be able to provide an emergency- service, responding to 999 calls and a few priorities.

The potential impacts include closing all enquiry desks and the loss of specialist support units, mounted officers, dog units and road policing units, and dramatic cuts to departments that deal with serious and complex crime. In addition the county-wide network of neighbourhood policing teams – community beat officers and community support officers – will be swept away.

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What if your boss could check your internet browsing history? 

What if your boss could check your internet browsing history?

What if you became a criminal just because you attended a rock concert?

And what if a supermarket knew you were pregnant before you did (actually a true story)? And they could sell that information on?

Most people don’t know that all three things are entirely possible thanks to the Conservative’s Snoopers Charter, the SNP’s use of facial recognition software and the power of supermarkets to track your changing shopping habits against your personal data.

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You should stand for Police & Crime Commissioner

 

Next May, the entire United Kingdom will vote. It will be the first national election since the General Election and will be seen as a test of all parties one year into the new parliament.

Police & Crime Commissioner elections will take place in England & Wales, on the same day as devolved elections.

If you care about human rights, as Liberal Democrats do, policing is where human rights come into sharp focus. No other civilian agency in entrusted with powers so affecting liberty and so at risk of political demands based on popular misunderstanding. Policing needs checks and balances from a liberal point of view, and strategy founded on evidence.

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Opinion: “Victim-blaming” 101: why sexual assault is different to other crimes

Sussex Police has produced a campaign poster encouraging women to stick together on a night out to reduce their chances of sexual assault. There are so many ways this poster is stupid: it perpetuates the myth of stranger rape as the only “real rape” (an idea which helps acquaintance rapists get away with it over and over again), it ignores male victims of rape, and it suggests women should fear sexual assault more than they value their sexual liberty.

But there’s only one issue I want to address now. On Monday, Caron Lindsay called the poster “victim-blaming”: she was right, and it’s worth explaining why victim-blaming is so much more harmful in cases of sexual assault than other forms of crime.

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Why are police forces getting away with misogynistic, victim-blaming rape prevention campaigns?

I was horrified to hear this afternoon that Sussex Police are launching a campaign to encourage women to stay together to avoid the possibility of rape and sexual assault. This is what they tweeted last week:

So, now your friends come above the perpetrator of any crime when there’s blame to be handed out.

Looking a bit further afield, I found the Police Service of Northern Ireland’s Be Smart campaign, which is even worse. Three quarters of the page is taken up with advice for women like:

Would you go alone into a stranger’s house at 11am in the morning? No? So why do it at 2am drunk? Arrange to meet new acquaintances when sober.

It’s the sort of victim blaming nonsense that is counter-productive. Going to someone’s house is not a crime. Raping somebody is against the law. If you had been raped, how likely would you be to report what had happened to you if you thought you might be judged and blamed for the crime that you had been subjected to? I thought we’d moved on from that. To add insult to injury, as an afterthought, there’s an “And for guys” bit at the bottom of the page, reminding them that “rape convictions last forever.” The effects of being rape are pretty much a life sentence, too, you know.

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Questioning newsagents about Charlie Hebdo sales – the police need to sort themselves out

The Guardian reports that police from several UK forces have questioned newsagents about sales of the Charlie Hebdo post-massacre issue. It’s a patchy phenomenum. Police in Wiltshire have apologised for doing it. There was a phone call from a Cheshire police person. And in Dyfed-Powys a newsagent reports being questioned for half an hour by police in her shop. A police spokesman there said:

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Shouldn’t Parliament Square be for protesters?

Parliament square by Paul WalterThe name Donnachadh McCarthy means something to those of us of a certain age. Donnachadh was once a Liberal Democrat and he was proper Awkward Squad. I spent many hours arguing with him on Cix, which was where all online Liberal Democrats hung out back in the day. Quite often I agreed with him and even when I didn’t, I realised that he was the sort of pain in the backside that every leader needs. Liberals have always been particularly bad at venerating their leaders. Willie Rennie described us, the day he became Scottish leader, as a party that doesn’t want to be led.

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