Thursday, 8 May 2008

on crime and the causes of crime

Tough on crime and tough on the causes of crime. So we were told by Tony Blair.

The Labour government, of course, would never admit that one of the causes of crime, is the criminalisation of innocent people due to overzealous legislation. Such zeal was revealed by Nick Clegg, to be a new criminal offence every day since New Labour came to power, standing at around 3,000 in 2006 (backed up by Channel 4's fact checker). In that year the Independent reported that,

It is now illegal to sell grey squirrels, impersonate a traffic warden or offer Air Traffic Control services without a licence. Creating a nuclear explosion was outlawed in 1998.

Householders who fail to nominate a neighbour to turn off their alarm while they are away from home can be breaking the law. And it is an offence for a ship's captain to be carrying grain unless he has a copy of the International Grain Code on board.

That same article cites that the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs has brought in 640 new offences, the vast majority through secondary legislation (i.e. legislation made by a Minister, not by Parliament). Furthermore, in 2007 the Times reported that,

Teenagers who drop out of school or training at 16 will face criminal action and £50 on-the-spot fines under plans to raise the age for leaving full-time education.

Alan Johnson, the Education Secretary, said that dropouts would be served with ASBO-style “attendance orders” specifying a study course that they are expected to attend.

Now New Labour and the Tories may jeer, call us wooly liberals who would grant asylum to Osama bin Laden and even more they may simply state that most of these offences are minor ones (how many people get prosecuted for selling grey squirrels for instance?), but it is impossible to think how anyone can defend a new initiative revealed today by the BBC.

It is called the National Staff Dismissal Register and is being run by Hicom Business Solutions on behalf of Action Against Business Crime, a group described as a "Home Office supported body". The National Staff Dismissal Register is,

An online database of workers accused of theft and dishonesty, regardless of whether they have been convicted of any crime, which bosses can access when vetting potential employees.

What this means is that if you as an employee, have ever been accused of theft of money or merchandise, falsification of documents, fraud, causing loss to the company or a supplier or causing damage to company property, you could be placed on this list. Even more alarming, if you were never convicted of the offence (i.e. even if the police were called in and there was no evidence OR the police were not called in but your employer had suspicions) you could still be placed on the database. As if that wasn't enough, if you left the company in the middle of an investigation (as one can imagine you doing, due to the levels of stress or the lack of support you receive during the investigation) you could still be placed on the database.

Having never done anything wrong you could find yourself denied a future employment opportunity, because of the actions of a vindictive past employer. Such an employer would play the part of prosecutor, judge and jury in deciding your future, completely bypassing the legal system and with the bar set so high for prosecution under the Defamation Act 1996, it is not improbable that this bypassing will be the case. You don't need ideology to realise that this is wrong, write to your MP to get them to question the government.

I propose that the first name on such an unscrupulous list should be Tony Blair, a man famous for being the only Prime Minister to be questioned by the police (in this case for fraud) and of course he left his job in the middle of the investigation.


jackw85 8 May 2008 at 18:28  

That's shocking, clearly a bad idea through and through. It's bad enough that employers in certain industries network (read gossip) about their employees but to make it official in this sense is crazy.

keeptonyblairforpm 9 May 2008 at 00:51  

Ah ... but it's all right! They seldom really USE these laws. For example - the Terrorism Act 2006 is broken all the time by unbalnced bloggers and th elike and they are NEVER charged with inciting terrorism or glorifying same. For example, a London barrister- yes, at Lincoln's Inn - posted this recently on his blog:

“Why oh why oh why oh why can’t the useless rag-head pillocks in Al Queda assassinate him? It would be great PR for them: many of us would revise our low opinion of them if they could do us this one small service. Their ineptness is proof that the terrorism ‘threat’ is laughable.”


So if this idiot is not chargeable for inciting or glorifying terrorism, or he isn't about to me made a civil rights martyr, I wouldn't worry too much about all the other 'dreadful' laws.

You can get away with murder in this great land of ours, no matter how much government tries to lay down the law - "pour encourager les autres". Our incompetent legal establishment allows such as Abu Qatada to wander free, in case somebody hurts him in Jordan. In the local tonight the punters wanted him sent in gift wrap to Jordan - with an "open at will, Love, UK" card attached.

No wonder the police don't seem to care if a lawyer is encouraging Al Qaeda to kill Blair. They know the lawyer would be set free.

Tough laws? You ain't seen nothing yet.

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