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Wednesday, March 26, 2014

The Stephen Lawrence Murder Case Review – Recent Revelations Cast a Troubling Light on the UK as a Police State

The Metropolitan Police is in the hot seat, yet again, over the Stephen Lawrence Murder. Already, the level of controversy, scandals and polarising debates that have emerged because of police response to this murder has surpassed what most could consider the point of damage control. Public reaction towards Scotland Yard falls miles short of anything remotely resembling a sympathetic nerve or sense of tolerance; we're becoming a lot like our American cousins when it comes to progressive cynicism and distrust of the state.

Poor system? Or, poor management?
In light of the force's spying tactics, the victim's brother is demanding a role in the investigation. Meanwhile, the mother of the victim, Baroness Lawrence, is impressing upon Sir Bernard Hogan-Howe to offer his full and undivided attention, along with co-operation with the judicial inquiry as ordered by the Home Secretary. An order that has come down as a consequence of the aftermath ofwhat the media is describing as—a 'devastating'review of the matter carried out by Mark Ellison.

The 1993 racism-motivated murder of Stephen Lawrence in South London has sparked plenty of outrage and controversy over the years, but the recent revelations from Barrister Mark Ellison's review of the case has shed a whole new light on the matter, reigniting both public interest and the subsequent outrage. With the enquiry revealing all manner of troubling findings, from police force nepotism to self-furthering agendas, spy tactics, surveillance, all culminating in just two of the six assailants being brought to justice over a two-decade period. So to say that the Metropolitan Police have been put on a notice, in a manner of speaking, by its primarily employers--the public--would be an understatement. (Parry, 2014). Social media is presently rife with demands that the entire system, government included, be scrapped, but that might be taking things just a little too fucking far; perhaps the witless wannabe-anarchists should ease on on such rhetoric, because they might just end up getting what they wishes for, which'll turn out to be something fare more alarming and unexpected.

This event—along with other recent controversies regarding spying tactics and undercover plots by the police—has provoked some stern public questioning of the force's professional integrity. It is not that people have anything directly against spying or surveillance, but the lack of results or resolve to acquire results—such as in this case—brings the entire law enforcement profession in this country into question. So polarising is this subject that it is even attracting politically motivated criticism from a wider circle about Britain's form as a nanny state.


Spying: Have We Gone Too Far?

At the end of the day, spying is just an act supported by skill and a surveillance strategy that also comes with a rather hefty price tag in terms of equipment, labor and time. It does not—on its own—imply an inherent negative or positive context or connotation; that comes with the intentions of the individuals or parties engaged in such a surveillance strategy or tactic. Spying and discrete surveillance can be used for both malicious exploitation, or for the noble pursuit of security and foiling potential threats to public interest and safety. It's a lot like an investment, actual resources are pooled into supporting a surveillance state, and this naturally begs the question about what kind of returns the public receive for such an investment.

Therefore, whenever a group of individuals or a public service body are taken to task about engaging in such tactics, one must weigh out the intentions behind the tactic, the amount of resources invested in carrying out the tactic, and the eventual consequence of such a tactic. In the case of The Met and the controversy surrounding the Stephen Lawrence case—from the spying and arguably disingenuous undercover operation, to the sheer amount of years with little results—one is obliged to put the police force on the spot for such poor showing. Developments on this case also feed directly into the public opinion about the surveillance state, which is far from positive or outright glowing, but as stated earlier, this can't simply be because Britain is as paranoid about individual liberty being curtailed in favour of quality security, as say, the Americans. In the case of the British public, it is less about ideology and more about pragmatism; less about ideals of being surveillance free and more about the lack of results despite increasing surveillance.


Faulty Institutions or Clueless Public Servants?

At present, fewer and fewer people have faith in the legal institutions and law enforcement that carry out these tactics. With this drop in public confidence, there's almost an equally complimentary rise in people who believe that the increasingly larger scale of state surveillance in Britain is failing to produce a proportionate level of security, accountability and swift sense of justice when balanced out against the level of privacy violations the public must face in return. 

Ultimately, this is a matter of pragmatism driven by emotional outrage. When an exorbitant nanny state is spending all this money, time and resource—during economic austere times—towards increasing the reach of the surveillance state at the cost of private life, people will naturally expect swift and non-controversial results. As per the Stephen Lawrence case, this ideal outcome is not being reflected, and goes on to support the declining public confidence in the judicial and law enforcement system. Currently, a good number of the public—regardless of politics—see state sponsored spying and surveillance as simply a one-way street that violates their private rights while doing very little to keep them safe; thus, justifying their growing disdain for an excessive nanny state that they consider unaccountable and worthy of only the most absolute form of incredulity.

As for how the present regime of the Iron Lady's little Tin Men—a term of endearment that will apply, from here on forth, to the present Tory regime—goes, it's all about cuts. I am rather amused by the half-wit tactics of these so-called 'fiscal pragmatists' as they seem to conflate the concept of efficiency all too often with the sullied idiocy of austerity. Ah, what the hell; joke time...

Two Tories walk into a bar. 
They both order their usual, which is generally some exotic spirit, but in some exceptional cases, the most premium larger when they're up for experimenting with a faint whiff of the lowly, unworthy commoner's lifestyle. It takes Herculean levels of tolerance, so let's hear it for our Tory overlords! 
Anyway, the barkeep serves the two gentlemen—with silver spoons for spines—a revised version of the larger, which tastes a little different, likely a bit funny to the overly pampered palette of a bunch of upper class pricks. 
The Tories, perplexed by the taste, enquire, "By Jove, this blend is rather quaint... Oh, barkeep, what happened to our order? This tastes nothing like the regular and we demand satisfaction." 
The barkeep explains, "Sorry, mate... The producers of the brew had to cut some corners and this has had an effect on the quality, although not too shabby... You know how it goes, lads, austere times, heh," he closed off on a joke. 
With alarmingly robotic and mathematical hive mentality sync, the Tory duo spewed their incredulity, "Absolute nonsense! This can't be austere, for it doesn't give us the satisfaction of trampling righteously upon the unworthy beneath us! If this were an austere blend, then it would be an absolute efficient blend! The unworthy at the brewery are surely doing it wrong! We demand satisfaction! This is not satisfaction! This is not austerity!"

Personally, I have a slightly objective and practical view of austerity and efficiency as mere strategies rather than tools for clueless ideologues. You see, one involves just cutting indiscriminately when required, while the other involves saving intelligently and dealing with the details. As far as I am concerned, if an idiot servant has been elected into office with the goal of not just saving money, but also primarily dealing with the inefficiencies of that system, and they simply defer to unintelligible cuts. Well, they're not exactly doing their job if they're going about slicing all of my services by half, while their remaining halves continue to haemorrhage money in wasteful dollops. With this kind of nonsense, all I am getting in return is the same wasteful crap perpetuated, but with half the convenience due to it all being crippled further. I might be saving a bit more but with a disproportionate decline in quality, those savings are meaningless because the end result and product is far inferior. This clearly implies that the serving idiot needs to go back to school and learn about the basics of efficiency, pragmatism and modernisation, or alternatively, get a better group of competent folk to inform his policies. No, Premier Cameron, Ian DUMB-CUNT Smith doesn't count, and actually speaks to the initial issue of inefficiencies within your administration, but further compounded by caprice and classist bigotry that your party just cannot afford--eh, see, fiscal terminology.


Bitter Digressions Aside – A Bit of serious and Critical Self Reflection is required

Indeed, digressions aside, the point remains that this country is starting to become increasingly sceptical of the police and authoritarian state. This isn't happening solely because of idealism, but because practical results aren't looking good—which feeds back into idealisms and revolt—and the present establishment's solution is to simply cut, while the remaining chunk continues bleeding out due to inefficiencies. A growing surveillance state with spy scandals, ineptitude, decades-long murder enquiries and undercover operations with pathetic results: these speak to the state of an inefficient process, with zero justification for the Thatcherism-prescription of downsizing said process, which when paired with pre-existing inefficiencies, escalates social chaos, paranoia, insecurity and a general disdain for the state. 


References

Parry, L. (2014, March 8). Stephen Lawrence's mother demands Met Police chief takes 'decisive action' | Mail Online. Retrieved March 23, 2014, from http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2576268/Mother-murdered-Stephen-Lawrence-demands-Met-Police-chief-takes-decisive-action-wake-revelation-forces-spying-tactics.html

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