30 November 2009

GANG BANGING


We just can’t keep track of ‘em... new police/crime/public order laws that is. Time was when there would be a new shake up of criminal law once a decade, now it’s more like once a week.

Anyway the latest round of repression on the beat in your neighbourhood is set to be the Crime and Policing Act 2009. The Act (which came into force last week) is the usual New Labour ragbag of miscellaneous new police powers to bug, search, seize and detain without trial, with the odd bit thrown in to keep liberal naysayers happy.

Most worrying for campaigning groups is Part 4 - the power for civil courts to grant injunctions to ‘prevent gang-based violence’, the so-called GANGBO. Now this revisits the territory of the injunctions taken out under the Protection from Harassment Act and ASBOs in that a civil burden of proof (balance of probabilities in place of beyond reasonable doubt) is used to create criminal offences tailor- made for the individual, punishable by arrest and imprisonment.

All that is required is that violence is threatened. In item 34, section 5 of the Act, ‘“gangrelated violence” means violence or a threat of violence which occurs in the course of, or is otherwise related to, the activities of a group that (a) consists of at least 3 people, (b) uses a name, emblem or colour or has any other characteristic that enables its members to be identifi ed by others as a group, and (c) is associated with a particular area.’ Sound like any protest groups you know?

Of course when the act was first drafted it only applied to adults - but before the first GANGBO has even been issued, along rolls another piece of legislation, this time the Crime and Security Bill which is going to extend the powers to thirteen to seventeen-year-olds.

SchNEWS

Total Pageviews