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 2001: July-Sept

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21st September   Police Censorship of Police Killings

From the Guardian

The Ritzy cinema in Brixton, south London, has cancelled a one-week run of Injustice, the documentary accusing eight serving police officers of killing black people in custody.

The cinema, owned by the reggae tycoon Chris Blackwell's Island group, said yesterday that on legal advice it could not risk jeopardising its commercial future. Attempted screenings elsewhere have brought the threat of legal action from the police.

The film's makers, Migrant Media, described the decision as "cowardly and unbelievable". They fear it could undermine plans to distribute the film nationally and are preparing to sue for breach of contract.

The families [of those who died] are really upset and angry, said Ken Fero, the director. This really is insult added to injury for them. If this film cannot be shown in the heart of Brixton, where can it be shown? This film has been previewed in cinemas like the Curzon [in central London] brave enough to show it. It does not look very good for the Ritzy that it collapsed without the police even sending a solicitors' letter.

A spokeswoman for the Ritzy, which prides itself on being a cultural hub of black Britain, confirmed that it had not had a specific warning. We made a business decision on advice from our lawyers. We cannot risk everything for the sake of one film. We know people are not going to be happy about it, but we had to act on the advice.

The film tells the story of the deaths in custody of Joy Gardner, Brian Douglas and Shiji Lapite, among others, and was made together with their families over six years. Lawyers for the officers concerned and the Police Federation have warned of a defamation action against those who show it.

In a statement, the federation said none of those named as "murderers" had been found guilty of anything. They had not been consulted before filming, and had repeatedly been refused an advance view of the completed film to respond to allegations.

19th September   Porns Off the Liberal Agenda

The Lib Dem conference will not now be debating the liberalisation of our porn laws. The conference will go ahead but will clear the way for serious and sombre emergency motions related to terrorism.

The Lib Dems certainly offer a more enlightened approach to ID cards than Blunkett and co. As at the General election, the LibDems stated:

Privacy is protected by the European Convention on Human Rights which is now incorporated into UK law.  We are opposed to further privacy laws which could threaten free speech, except for a civil offence of physical intrusion to prevent harassment of individuals by the media. We will not introduce compulsory national identity cards.

16th September   Human Rights to Be Withdrawn in Britain?

A very worrying story in the Telegraph (with a few biased adjectives replaced. Of course there is no mention at all about the good things that have happened as a result of the legislation).

For a few days it seemed that terrorism was the biggest threat to our rights, now it seems that Straw and Blunkett may end up being the greater danger.

The Government is considering a retreat on one of its most controversial pieces of flagship legislation, the Human Rights Act. Cabinet ministers including Jack Straw, the Foreign Secretary, and David Blunkett, the Home Secretary, believe that the 1999 Act has taken too much power away from Parliament.

There has been pressure for a review of the Act almost from the moment it was passed. A few controversial cases in which the new legislation has been employed have generated widespread anger. Public hostility was aroused when the Act was used to gain the early release of the killers of James Bulger in June this year, and when it was used to obtain the recent ruling that it is illegal to hold suspected bogus asylum seekers in detention centres.

There is now concern that the legislation will shackle any attempts to push through tough measures to counter terrorism in the wake of last Tuesday's attacks on the World Trade Centre and the Pentagon.

Foreign Office ministers are uncomfortable that the Act has already been successfully used to prevent the extradition of suspected terrorists from the UK to America. One senior Cabinet minister told The Telegraph: The big issue is how far the Human Rights Act prevents Parliament from doing what it wants to do. The concern is that power is bleeding away from the elected representatives into the hands of the courts and judiciary. There has to be a balance, which is what the Human Rights Act set out to achieve but which, in my view, has swung too far the other way. It is important to redress that imbalance - but this is a powder keg issue and has to be handled very, very carefully.

The most likely amendment would be one designed to curb the ability of the Act to overturn fresh decisions voted through the Commons, a move which would also dissuade civil liberties groups from trying to quash older laws which the Government could reinstate using new legislation.

Any amendment to the Human Rights Act, however, will be highly embarrassing for Tony Blair who made it one of his priorities in Labour's first term in power. Cherie Booth, his wife, who is a barrister, promptly co-founded the Matrix chambers which specialise in cases brought under the Act. She has described the Act as "bringing rights home". (So a removal of human rights is considered by the Telegraph to be merely embarassing, I consider it to be repressive and corrupt)

The Act has been used to mount a wide-ranging and expensive series of challenges to public bodies and companies, ranging from whether firms must provide the same travel perks for homsexual partners of employees as they do for spouses, to the ability of the Government to prosecute former spies under the Official Secrets Act.

Liberty, the civil rights pressure group, said yesterday that it would oppose any move to weaken or water down the Act. Mark Littlewood, the director of campaigns for Liberty, said: The whole idea of the Human Rights Act is to ensure that the rights of the individual are not trampled over by the dictatorship of the majority. Politicians may take decisions for short-term, populist reasons at the expense of individual rights and the point of the Act is to counterbalance this. We want to see the Act strengthened and we would be very concerned if the Government tried to water it down. The Government said when it was passed that it would set a floor, not a ceiling, for civil rights and that it would be added to over time.

 

15th Sept   UK Aftermath

In the aftermath of this weeks terrorist horrors we have the inevitable minor censorship consequences: various programmes have been pulled by the TV companies; News Night has been well harangued for allowing too much prominence to the Muslim voice and Swordfish, a film about terrorists decimating a city, has unsurprisingly been pulled from our cinema screens.

Far more worrying however is the following story from the BBC:

David Blunkett has indicated that the introduction of identity cards is one of a series of measures being considered by the government in the wake of the terror attack on the US.

But the home secretary acknowledged that there was a balancing act between security and personal liberty. He said: Those things are very difficult issues but they are ones we are going to have to address if we are actually going to protect the most basic freedom of all which is to live in peace without fear.

Blunkett said he did not want to discuss identity cards so soon after the terror attack in the US before adding: That is something undoubtedly that is not going to go away. I personally need to think about that at great length and I will. Blunkett told BBC Radio 4's Today programme that he would return to the issue later in the year.

But the suggestion that ID cards could be introduced drew short shrift from the director of the civil rights group Liberty who fears that they would leave minorities open to victimisation by the authorities. John Wadham, the director of Liberty said: I think if we look at some of the ideas being suggested - for instance identity cards - we did have them in World War Two.  They were abolished by Winston Churchill's government [because] in order for identity cards to be effective what we have to do is give the police and others powers to demand to see them and they have to demand to see those identity cards very regularly of all of us in order to have any real effect,

Mr Wadham also expressed the fear that certain groups might be singled out such as foreigners, ethnic minorities and people who are seen to be not respectable.

During the emergency Commons debate on the atrocities in New York and Washington Tory MP Dr Julian Lewis urged the introduction of a national identity card scheme. He said that two relatives of one of his constituents were thought to have died in the attacks on the World Trade Center and he told MPs that extreme measures were necessary. If all this sounds draconian it is precisely because those are the measures that open societies have to take when they are under attack.

(Hold on a moment...the Americans demand photo ID before getting on planes and it didn't help them...Of course I would support ID cards if they accurately identified people as terrorists.  In the meantime I beleive they would be used by the police to merely harrass and harangue innocent people just like they do in France, Germany etc)

And there's more:

UK authorities have asked phone companies and ISPs to keep records of all communications on the day of the attacks.

The National Hi-Tech Crime Unit, set up earlier this year to fight crime related to information technology, said data stored might hold vital evidence about those responsible for the violence.

Police said they were not looking for anything in particular but made the request as text message, e-mail and voice message logs were routinely destroyed after 48 hours.

13th Sept   Moors Censorship

from The Guardian

Update: The courts have now removed the injunction on the grounds that there as absolutely no legal justification for trying to stop this book. Ashcroft Hospital are just bullying their inmate.

A book about serial killers written by the Moors murderer Ian Brady has been banned in Britain after the high security hospital where he is detained took out an injunction to halt publication.

Ashworth hospital authority in Merseyside has succeeded in temporarily preventing release of the book, which attempts to explain the psychology of notorious serial killers. Published in California, it was due on sale in Britain and the US in November.

The book, The Gates of Janus: serial killing and its analysis, makes no mention of the Moors murders. It analyses the psychology of 11 serial killers, including the Hertfordshire poisoner Graham Young, and Ted Bundy, the American who raped and killed 30 women in the 1970s.

A hospital spokeswoman said the action had been taken so the book could be read and checked as to whether it had breached patients' confidentiality and could lead to disruption. "he action is to enable the hospital to have sight of the book so that a considered decision can be made regarding whether it could affect the hospital's ability to carry out its statutory duties to maintain security, order, and a therapeutic environment, she said.

Colin Wilson, a criminologist who befriended Brady, said that he was willing to hand over a typescript to the hospital. Ashworth is mainly bothered about whether there is something in the book about themselves, because Ian Brady fulminates about the hospital. But there is nothing whatsoever in the book about Ashworth.

The book was written under a pseudonym, but Brady later agreed to have his name on it. The 300-page work takes its name from the Roman god of doorways.

Benedict Birnberg, Brady's former solicitor and executor of his estate, said that an advance of 3,420, plus the royalties, would be used to support Brady's elderly mother: Ian Brady will receive no money himself."

If the injunction were not lifted, said Mr Birnberg, Brady could bring a complaint under the Human Rights Act for denial of free expression. Mr Birnberg said he interpreted the book as Brady trying to recompense for his crimes.

The publication had upset families of Brady's victims. The Victims of Crime Trust was "disgusted" he had been allowed to publish, and its director, Norman Brennan, said that the families were "absolutely distraught".

The high court will decide on Monday if the injunction should be lifted.

9th Sept   A Good Liberal Attitude

I reported on the Lib Dem conference motion last month but today it was reported in The Sunday Times It is great to see that front bench Lib Dems are supporting the motion. Whilst we wait for the politicians, the sex shop, One on One, is due in court very soon re R18 mail order charges.

From the Sunday Times by Michael Prescott

The Liberal Democrats are to campaign for new laws making it easier to buy hard-core pornography. They also want the age at which such material can be bought or viewed to be reduced from 18 to 16.

Party leaders will allow a full-scale debate on the proposals at the Lib Dem conference later this month. The policy is likely to be adopted, not least because it enjoys the support of frontbenchers Simon Hughes, Norman Baker, Lembit Opik, Edward Davey and almost every other Lib Dem MP contacted yesterday.

Senior figures in rival parties were stunned by the development, which comes just as the Lib Dems boast that they are on the verge of overtaking the rump Tory party to become the mainstream force of opposition in British politics.

Supporters of the porn reforms argue that a recent relaxation in censorship of sexually explicit films and videos has caused no problem for society, and that further liberalisation will enjoy widespread support. Hughes and his colleagues say it is "absurd" that the law allows 16-year-olds to work, pay tax, marry and engage in heterosexual or homosexual activity - but not view explicit pornography depicting such activity.

The big danger is not sex on the screen, it is violence, Hughes, the Lib Dem home affairs spokesman, said yesterday. The natural prude ought to be more concerned about that. The Lib Dem porn proposal calls for cheaper sex shop licences, easier availability of pornography and an end to censorship of any material depicting legal consensual sex, whether gay or straight.

The call prompted immediate controversy last night. It sounds as though the Liberal Democrats have gone mad, said one government minister. People will be concerned that allowing 16-year-olds access to porn raises the danger of even younger children getting their hands on this material.

The shameful Steve Webb, spokesman on work and pensions, was the only Lib Dem MP to express reservations about the new policy yesterday. I am concerned about the widening availability of pornography to younger people. More pornography demeans us all.

Opik, spokesman for youth affairs, said: Nobody has come up with evidence of harm from hard-core porn. It probably works as a release valve for some people.

The Sunday Times editorial was hardly supportive. Not much of an argument though: freedom should be denied because someone may be slightly embarassed

Groping for Ideas: An Abuse of the Law

There has been no moment like it in Liberal history since Lloyd George split the party by toppling Asquith. The tectonic plates of history are shifting, the old ideologies are dying. Even the ancient enemy, the Conservative party, which used to command the finest brute vote in Europe, is on its knees. Under Iain Duncan Smith or Ken Clarke it could disintegrate further. Now is the time for Charles Kennedy's Liberal Democrats to seize the limelight. Now is the time to be taken seriously as a party, or even as the party, of opposition. As stock markets tumble and a recession rears, the nation waits for the Lib Dem answer. Arise the new John Maynard Keynes. So what do we get? The party is to throw its energies into a campaign for new laws allowing 16-year-olds to buy hardcore porn.

Simon Hughes, the earnest chap who bears the home affairs portfolio, has been struck by the discrepancy between the law and teenage interest in pornography. The rest of us all thought teenage boys avoided smut like the plague. We have to be realistic and modern and live to the realities of communication, says Hughes in the language of the trendy vicar, adding in his right-on daddyo-ish way: This motion comes from young people who know the score. Has he no idea how embarrassing he is?

Imagine the 16-year-old urged by Liberal Democrat activists to enjoy his new-won freedom in libertarian Britain. He is hustled to the counter of

WH Smith by a Simon Hughes type. Hello, sonny, says the woman at the checkout. What do we have here? That's two copies of Football Daft, one of Go-Kart weekly, one British Babes and one Grope magazine. Beryl, she shouts across the crowded floor, how much is Grope magazine? The poor boy will die quivering with shame.

Maybe we are wrong. After all, the Lib Dems gained seats by offering higher taxes and unfettered federal union with Europe. Maybe porn for 16-year-olds is another winner. But somehow we don't trust Mr Hughes. The old joke rings true: tomorrow he really will want to make it compulsory.

The story was also followed up by James Whale on his TalkSport programme. A Lib Dem MP was interviewed postively. James Whale  bemoaned the fact that on his new Men & Motors TV show he was allowed to show as many naked women as he liked, but not a naked man with an erection. Callers comments backed the MP.

7th September   Brassed Off with Bollox Regulators

Based on an article in The Telegraph

Channel 4 was ordered yesterday to broadcast an apology for the spoof documentary Brass Eye. Television regulators ruled that the programme, which sought to satirise hysteria over paedophilia, had breached their codes. The ITC said that Channel 4 had failed to give adequate warnings that the programme was satire rather than a real documentary.

It had also not taken enough care to avoid causing "gratuitous offence" to the viewer. The commission took the rare step of asking Channel 4 to broadcast an apology, the details of which are to be settled. Another regulator, the BSC, also attacked the channel.

While it agreed with the ITC that broadcasters had the right to produce satirical programmes on topics as sensitive as paedophilia, it said that the offence and distress caused to viewers by scenes involving children in a sexual context outweighed the programme's "public interest" purpose.

Channel 4 said it stood by its programme and called the rulings "confusing and contradictory". The show, which was written and presented by Chris Morris, provoked one of the fiercest rows in television history.

The ITC received more than 1,000 complaints, but also 750 messages supporting the programme. Several ministers, including David Blunkett, the Home Secretary, and Tessa Jowell, the Culture Secretary, joined the condemnation. However, it emerged that some Government critics had not watched the programme. The programme duped a string of celebrities into backing spoof anti-paedophile campaigns.

No doubt broadcasters will pay heed to their decision and its implications, a spokesman said. Channel 4 is legally obliged to broadcast an apology, but was unrepentant. Michael Jackson, its chief executive, said: Despite the ITC's ruling, Channel 4 is unwavering in its support for Chris Morris and Brass Eye and we would not hesitate to commission or transmit such a programme again.

5th september   Politicians Shame Westminster

Our own bollox politicians outlaw legitimate advertising. This then causes the girls to look to other forms of advertising and hence the problem. It is the politicians that 'deface and shame' the capital, not the girls.

A man has been arrested on suspicion of posting prostitutes' cards less than  two hours after a new law made it illegal. Police arrested the 20-year-old  in west London after he was spotted by observation officers from Westminster  City Council. Police say he has been bailed to appear at Horseferry Road  Magistrates Court on September 4. He is believed to be the first person  arrested under the law which makes it an offence to post prostitutes' cards  in telephone boxes or other public places. Anyone convicted faces six months  in prison or a 5,000 fine.

Under the Criminal Justice and Police Act 2000,  which came into force recently, police will also be able to arrest people  who continue to drink in the street in designated banned areas, simplifying  what was previously dealt with by local by-laws. Refusal to hand over open  containers of drink could lead to a fine of up to 500.

In London, Westminster City Council is launching a major new drive to outlaw vice-cards, which they say "deface and shame" the capital. The council, BT and the Metropolitan Police will step up efforts to combat the problem, which can see some central London phone boxes smothered in 80 or more explicit pornographic images, and are compiling a database of notorious "carders".

5th September   Spice Platinum Playboy

Thanks to TheSatZone

A new European wide porn channel backed by the might of Playboy has launched on Hotbird at 13 degrees east (11096 H SR 27500 3/4). Spice Platinum is encoded in the much-maligned Irdeto, heavily hacked everywhere across Europe and the Middle East. In a press release Playboy TV International (PTVI), through its wholly owned subsidiary STV International, announced it was launching a new premium television service, Spice Platinum, to the pan-European marketplace from September 1st. Playboy although best known for it's soft focus softporn output has recently gone hardcore on several satellite and cable systems in the US. A hardcore version of Playboy TV had been broadcasting free-to-air on Hispasat 1 A-C 30 west for weeks on end recently.

4th September   Serious Arrestable Offensive Law

I recently posted a Home Office circular regarding making the importing of indecent/obscene material a seriously arrestable offence. Enquiries of the Home Office on the subject provided the following reply:

The implementation of Section 72 of the Criminal Justice and Police Act 2001 is set out in Home Office Circular 32/2001. This section makes the existing offence of importing indecent or obscene articles a serious arrestable offence. Domestic offences under the section 1 of the Protection of Children Act 1978 and section 2 of the Obscene Publications Act 1959 are already serious arrestable offences.

Customs' enforcement of the prohibition on the importation of indecent and obscene material contained in s42 of the Customs Consolidation Act 1876 (CCA) has not changed. As a matter of policy they apply indecency only to photographic material featuring children under 16 years of age which reflects the domestic standards set out in the Protection of Children Act 1978 and the Criminal Justice Act 1988.

In terms of obscenity Customs are required to reflect the standards arising from contemporary court judgements when enforcing the prohibition. The type of material likely to be considered obscene includes bestiality, rape, fisting, urolagnia, defaecation, sado-masochism, bondage involving the use of a gag and children involved in any sexual activity.

The import prohibition contained in s42 CCA does not distinguish between child and adult material and it was not therefore possible to confine the serious arrestable offence classification only to indecent and obscene material featuring children and obscene adult material.

(It is my opinion that this use of law is inherently corrupt. It is widely accepted that that child porn offences are serious offences yet our law makers cannot seem to separate child porn from adult porn. In the process they have made it a seriously arrestable offence to import fisting or golden shower videos when this is clearly not the case. The idea of enabling draconian laws with some implied but never stated promise not to use them is well dangerous. Customs and police are not 100% trustworthy and they certainly will be tempted to use legislation of convenience like this when it suits them, for instance if they cannot prove a more relevant but serious charge).

 

19th August   Liberal Pornography in the Internet Age

Here are a few more details about the LDYS motion on porn to be debated at the Lib Dem conference

Press Release: Pornography In The Internet Age

LIB DEMS TO TACKLE PORN:

After a move from their youth and student wing the Lib Dems will be deciding their stance on pornography at their autumn Conference in Bournemouth next month.

The policy debate will be the first on the subject for 11 years and will deal with the issues triggered by the explosion in Internet use.

It calls for:

  • A relaxation of antiquated censorship laws, making pornography depicting consensual sexual activity between adults is available to those over 16;
  • Reductions in the costs of licensing sex shops to encourage people to buy from reliable sources;
  • An honest sensible and fair policy on cross border trade, negotiated with international partners such as the EU.

The motion also reaffirms the need for pornography to be a consensual act between adults, with a fair deal for all from stars to shop owners or consumers.

The person behind the motion, LDYS Vice Chair Alison Goldsworthy said;  Avoiding the issue of the effects of the pornography industry does society no favours. The UK laws are archaic and contradictory, a review and relaxation are overdue. These proposals are a sensible, adult way to move forward.

The Motion In Full: Pornography in the Internet Age

Conference notes:

That most pornographic material is no longer produced solely for heterosexual men, but encompasses a much wider audience.  The proliferation of pornography in line with the growth of the world wide web, and the proliferation of adult content broadcast channels in line with increased consumer demand.

The recent minor relaxations in censorship of magazines, films and television programmes regarding acceptable sexual content.  The government's white paper "A New Future For Communications", and its calls for changes to the film classification system, with responsibility for video classification being taken from the British Board of Film Classification and handed to OFCOM.  Events in the past few months which have led to increased censorship on the web; with companies such as e-bay and yahoo introducing blanket bans.

The abnormalities and contradictions that currently exist within UK law on pornography.
Conference Believes:

That the consensual viewing of pornography that portrays all forms of sexuality involving consenting adults is acceptable in today's society.  That pornography portraying sexual acts with un-consenting adults, those illegal as outlined by law or those involving persons under the age of consent is always unacceptable.

Pornography should be available to buy from, safe reliable sources, giving a 'fair deal' to all involved.

Conference therefore calls for: Relaxation of censorship laws so that all pornography depicting consensual sexual activity is available to adults over the age of 16 who wish to purchase it, and in so doing remove contradictions in the current laws surrounding pornography.  Revision of the R18 rating to R16, whilst maintaining the tight and responsible enforced licensing of sex shops.  Reductions in the cost of licensing a sex shop, discouraging people from buying less reliably sourced material over the internt; and moves towards future regulation and licensing of on-line sex shops. Work with our European Union partners to initiate similar regulation of cross-border trade in pornographic material.

18th August  Liberal Porn Policy

From The Independent

The Liberal Democrats are set to live up to their reputation for embarrassing their leader at conference time by voting on relaxing the laws on pornography.

Party members are to debate whether to boost the number of sex shops and to allow 16 year olds to buy "top shelf" magazines.

The demand for reform of pornography laws, tabled by Liberal Democrat Youth and Students, is supported by senior MPs including Mark Oaten, the Chairman of the party. Mr Oaten said: These laws were written in the 1960s - the world has moved on. Pornography laws are in danger of not keeping up with changes ... We need to be tough on the unacceptable and effectively regulate other aspects of pornography."

The motion, to be debated in Bournemouth next month, reaffirms the need for pornography to be consensual act between adults with a fair deal for all from stars to shop owners or consumers.

13th August   Importing Porn to Become a Serious Arrestable Offence

Thanks to Shaun for tracking down this rather alarming Home Office circular. It strikes me that R18 adult consensual material that can currently be imported surely falls under the description of indecent. Are the Home Office planning to make it illegal again with even higher stakes than before? I guess one explanation could be something to do with child porn but the circular says nothing about this. Alarming times indeed

Home Office Circular 32/2001

THE CRIMINAL JUSTICE AND POLICE ACT 2001: SECTIONS 71 AND 72 - ARRESTABLE OFFENCES AND IMPORTATION OF INDECENT OR OBSCENE MATERIAL
 

PART 2 OF THIS CIRCULAR IS ABOUT: IMPLEMENTATION OF SECTION 72 OF THE CRIMINAL JUSTICE AND POLICE ACT 2001: MAKING THE IMPORTATION OF INDECENT OR OBSCENE MATERIAL A SERIOUS ARRESTABLE OFFENCE.
FROM: POLICE LEADERSHIP & POWERS UNIT (PLPU)

SENTENCING & OFFENCES UNIT (SOU)

IMPLEMENTATION DATE: 1 OCTOBER 2001
EXPIRY DATE N/A
FOR MORE INFORMATION ON PART 2 CONTACT: LYNDA JACKSON
SENTENCING AND OFFENCES UNIT
HOME OFFICE
ROOM 317
50 QUEEN ANNE'S GATE
LONDON SW1H 9AT
TEL: 020 7273 2170
THIS CIRCULAR IS ADDRESSED TO: CHIEF OFFICERS OF POLICE (ENGLAND & WALES)
CHIEF CONSTABLE ROYAL ULSTER CONSTABULARY
CLERKS TO THE POLICE AUTHORITIES
HER MAJESTY'S CUSTOMS AND EXCISE
COPIES ARE BEING SENT TO: ASSOCIATION OF CHIEF POLICE OFFICERS
SUPERINTENDENTS' ASSOCIATION
POLICE FEDERATION
ASSOCIATION OF POLICE AUTHORITIES
NATIONAL POLICE TRAINING
HM CHIEF INSPECTOR OF CONSTABULARY
METROPOLITAN POLICE CLUBS & VICE OCU

Dear Colleague

Section 72 Part 2- Importation of indecent or obscene material

7. Part 2 of this circular informs copy recipients of added powers of arrest for customs officers and constables which will come into force on implementation of section 72 of the Criminal Justice and Police Act on 1 October 2001.

8. Section 42 of the Customs Consolidation Act 1876 prohibits the importation into the United Kingdom of indecent or obscene articles.

9. Section 170(2)(b) of the Customs and Excise Management Act 1979 makes it an offence knowingly to evade any prohibition or restriction for the time being in force.

10. Together these sections make it an offence to import or bring into the United Kingdom indecent or obscene articles. Existing legislation provides that this offence is one to which the summary arrest powers of the Police and Criminal Evidence Act 1984 and the Police and Criminal Evidence (Northern Ireland) Order 1989 apply.

11. The effect of section 72 is to make this offence a serious arrestable

offence in England and Wales and Northern Ireland by adding it to the list of

such offences set out in Schedule 5 to the Police and Criminal Evidence Act

1984 and the Police and Criminal Evidence (Northern Ireland) Order 1989.

12. While the existing powers of summary arrest will be retained, making this offence a serious arrestable offence will allow those investigating the offence, who will mostly be Customs and Excise officers, greater powers in the investigation, namely:

  • Power for the justices to grant warrants to enter and search premises for the purpose of investigating a serious arrestable offence (Section 8 PACE, Article 10 PACE (NI));
  • Obtaining orders providing access to excluded or special procedural material where there are reasonable grounds for believing that the offence has been committed (Section 9 and schedule 1 PACE, Article 11 paragraphs (1) and (2) and schedule 1 PACE (NI));
  • Authorisation of extended detention without charge following arrest (Section 42 PACE, Article 43 PACE (NI));
  • Warrants of further detention without charge following arrest (Section 43 PACE, Article 44 PACE (NI));
  • Extension of warrants of further detention without charge following arrest (Section 44 PACE, Article 45 PACE (NI))
  • Authorisation for delay in informing someone of an arrest for the offence (Section 56 PACE subsections (1) - (9), Article 57 PACE (NI) paragraphs (1) - (9));
  • Authorisation of delay in consulting solicitor where arrested for the offence (Section 58 PACE subsections (1) - (11), Article 59 PACE (NI) paragraphs (1) - (11)).

13. Further detailed guidance on the use of these powers by Customs' Officers will be issued centrally by the Criminal Justice & Pornography Team, 1W New King's Beam House, 22 Upper Ground, London SE1 9PJ. Team Leader: Robin Cooper 020 7865 5267.

Contact points

For further information on Part 2 of this Circular please contact:

Lynda Jackson
Team Leader
Obscenity Policy Section
Room 317
50 Queen Anne's Gate
LONDON SW1H 9AT

 

29th July   Eying a New Heresy

It strikes me that Brass Eye proved their case and that there is need for questioning of the paedophile bandwagon. If people are joining campaigns without even bothering to think through what they are saying then they should be questioned about their motives. No issue is beyond debate and this accusation of heresy is particularly worrying on the eve of  publishing extensions to the sex offenders register. This law deserves criticism in that minor non-paedophile offences lead to registration which is then immediately associated with paedophila by our lynch mob culture.

Anyway from the BBC:

Child protection minister Beverley Hughes has condemned Channel 4's satirical show Brass Eye, calling the spoof paedophile investigation "counterproductive". She criticised the programme for inciting the kind of media backlash its makers claimed to satirise. Outgoing Channel 4 chief executive Michael Jackson has defended the decision to screen the programme, insisting it had a real sense of social purpose. But Mrs Hughes, who called the show "unspeakably sick", said it had damaged the chance of a serious debate around the issue. She admitted she had not seen all of the show, but added: If there was a serious intent, it has been entirely self-defeating.

She joins other ministers who have spoken out over the controversial show including Home Secretary David Blunkett. Culture Secretary Tessa Jowell said it was tearing down the barriers of TV decency.

Mrs Hughes - who on Monday will launch a consultation document on tightening up the working of the sex offenders' register - complained: I find it extraordinary that Channel 4 could have conceived of this idea in the first place, let alone turned it into a reality. Anyone who has researched this subject will have been harrowed by the accounts given by the child victims of abusers. This programme trivialised traumatic experiences that can affect children for almost their whole lives, she told The Sunday Telegraph.

Mr Blunkett's spokesman added: Mr Blunkett was pretty dismayed by the programme and did not find it remotely funny. The station has now received more than 2,000 calls about the show - repeated on Saturday - which satirised media coverage of paedophiles.

Channel 4 said it had noted the ministers' comments but that its remit was to ask hard questions. A spokesman said: Channel 4 knew a satire of this nature would be a difficult programme for some to view and it is a matter of regret to us if victims of child sex abuse and those who work with them have watched the programme in full and been offended. Chris Morris (the presenter) was not making light of paedophilia; his target was the dangerous sensationalism and exploitation that can characterise media coverage of the issue. As commentators have already noted, some of the more outspoken reaction to the programme only underlines the validity of the point it was making."

In an article published in The Observer, Mr Jackson argues: Some might argue that satire is the wrong format to engage in serious debate but often it's only when a punchline has finished that we can see the uncomfortable but serious point behind the joke.

High profile figures such as ITN correspondent Nicholas Owen, presenter Richard Blackwood and rock star Phil Collins were all duped into fronting bogus anti-paedophilia campaigns for the show.

The consultation document to be published on Monday will suggest a range of measures intended to strengthen the sex offenders' register. The proposed changes will include expanding the range of offences which trigger registration. At the moment, some offenders convicted of indecent assault are not required to register.

29th July   Axe Wrestling

From MediaGuardian.co.uk

WWF wrestling, a spectacle closer to pantomime than sport in which 18-stone men in trunks pretend to beat hell out of each other and the occasional scantily-clad female, is to be dropped by Channel 4 amid concern about the "increasingly extreme nature" of the programme.

Channel 4 confirmed yesterday that it is to end its contract with the World Wrestling Federation when it expires in December. The decision to drop the American show, which has a global following among children and teenagers, was made because of the increasingly violent fighting scenes and misgivings over its portrayal of women. According to a Channel 4 spokesperson the show had become "increasingly difficult to edit".

WWF features an array of manufactured characters "fighting" for supremacy in and out of the ring. Trading on plots that would be familiar to anyone who saw British wrestling in the 1970s, the "competitors" play act, deploying ever more extreme stunts. WWF has expanded the genre outside the ring, weaving elements of soap opera in with the body slams and half Nelsons. These plots have brought concern about the role of women in the shows.

Characters with names like Terri, Tori, Trish Stratus and Chyna, collectively known as "divas", are "beaten" by the men or themselves pretend to fight. Props such as chairs and sledgehammers have been used in the show, to the disquiet of some viewers. WWF has also produced a video entitled Divas in Hedonism, featuring the women in bikinis on a Jamaican beach.

A spokeswoman for the ITC said they had received very few complaints, and those that were upheld concerned violence outside the ring. The ITC has in fact upheld three complaints against the show, including one regarding an episode in which a wrestler smashed up a rival's car with a sledgehammer and threatened him with it.

The programme used to be shown at 4pm on Sundays un til it was moved to a late night slot in May. Concerns have been raised about the effect of the violence on children, but according to research commissioned by the ITC and the Broadcasting Standards Commission, the regular audience understood that the fight scenes are a fabrication and they looked on it as similar to circus or soap opera. The study found that viewers enjoyed following the fortunes of favourite wrestlers and the developments in the underlying plot in much the same way fans of soap opera do.

27th July   Illegal Gay Group Sex Law

Based on an article in The Guardian

The government has offered an out of court settlement of 15,000 to each of seven men convicted of illegal group gay sex in a move which confirms ministers will have to change the law and allow consenting sex in private between more than two homosexuals.

The offer - made by the Home Office in the past few weeks - is designed to avert an embarrassing defeat in the European court of human rights. The so-called Bolton Seven brought the case arguing English law banning consensual group gay sex conflicted both with their privacy and human rights.

The men were initially persecuted in 1998 after a video emerged of them holding consensual group sex. Only five of the seven appealed to European human rights court, but the Home Office offer has been made to all seven including to the sister of one of them, Terry Connell, who has died.

The seven were convicted in 1998 of gross indecency at Bolton crown court in Greater Manchester. Norman Williams, who also admitted three charges of buggery, was initially jailed for two years, and Mr Connell for nine months, with both sentences suspended for two years. Both admitted they her five who was at the time was 17-and-a-half, six months under the then legal age of consent.

Mr Williams's sentence was revoked a year later in the court of appeal. However, the court upheld the suspended nine month sentence against Mr Connell. The age of consent has subsequently been equalised at 16 for heterosexuals and homosexuals.

Solicitors acting for the men refused to comment last night except to confirm no agreement had been reached in talks with the home office.

All the offences contravened the 1967 Sexual Offences Act, which allows consenting sexual acts in private between no more than two men. Each sex session videoed had involved at least some of the defendants. The videos had not been made for profit or public broadcast.

Brian Iddon, the Bolton South East MP yesterday pointed out that Scottish law has already been changed. He added: "I fear these persecutions were a waste of time and money. I very much hope the government will now change the law so that it is equal between heterosexuals and homosexuals".

Evan Harris, the Liberal Democrat MP and campaigner for gay rights, said: The government has got to learn to get out of the bedroom of consenting adults. The question for taxpayers is why this government is continuing to prosecute in cases in which they have no chance of winning and which clearly infringe individual privacy.

Defeat in the European courts was inevitable, he said after another British homosexual won 21,000 damages last year following a prosecution over sexual acts in his home.

22nd July   Loaded Down by Censorship

David Flint's censorship article in Loaded this month starts: Can it be Possible? Good old Blighty, so long the censorship capital of the free world, has finally been dragged, kicking and screeching, into the modern world.

Well the answer is a resounding NO! The publishers decided rather late in the day to pull a supporting picture showing hardcore. They have implemented decision this by crudely ripping out the offending pages (75 & 76).

This reminds me of when I lived briefly in a third world, third rate country that routinely hacked away at imported papers and magazines etc by ripping out the offending pages.

The Offending material was found in a picture of the cover of Debbie Does Dallas. This had incredibly tiny hardcore images that are hard enough to see on a full size cover. Someone must have examined the page with a microscope.

Perhaps this was judged sufficient to have received a ban from the censorial WH Smugs and hence the page was ripped out.

12th July   Fighting Off Police Censorship

From the Guardian

A documentary about deaths in police custody which named eight serving police officers as murderers was shown last night after a cinema audience defied threats of legal action and took over the venue.

The organisation United Families and Friends (UFF) spent six years making the film, Injustice, which examines the deaths of black people while in police custody and identifies the officers believed by relatives to be responsible for the deaths. None of the officers named has been convicted of any crime.

Staff from Conway Hall, central London, turned on lights making it difficult to see the screen after trustees apparently received threats of legal action from representatives of some of the police officers named in the film. Members of the 150-strong crowd took over the projector and went ahead with the 98-minute screening.

(I Hope the organisers were aware of the risks they were taking...they could have been taken into police custody...)

8th July   Police Censorship

From the Independent

A planned screening of a documentary on deaths of black people in custody was halted by a late police legal threat, causing uproar among the relatives of those who died.

The Metro Cinema, London, announced it was cancelling the screening 20 minutes before it was due to start after receiving a fax from lawyers representing two of the police officers mentioned in the film.

The United Families and Friends (UFF) spent six years making Injustice, a 98-minute film , which names eight serving police officers as "murderers". The film identifies officers believed by relatives of the dead to be responsible, although none were convicted of any crime.

UFF co-director and producer of the film, Ken Fero, said last night: "The atmosphere is incredible. People are very, very angry. This is the only chance the families have to tell their story." Mr Fero plans another screening for Wednesday

 

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