Friday 27 January 2012

A Blind Eye

I had intended to devote this Blog to p182/2011 which is the proposition to establish the long awaited Police Authority which was originally down for debate next Tuesday. Unfortunately it has now been deferred to 20th March. However before coming to the main contents of this Blog I would like to make a few comments on next week's Agenda.

I am pleased to see that Deputy Roy Le Herissier has lodged an amendment to PPC's proposition relating to the Electoral Commission P5/2012. As one can see Roy's amendment P5 is asking Members to revert to what the former House approved last March and the proposed Commission be independent. The propositions are due to be debated on 6th March.

I am disappointed that not one of the 50 Members could find the time to ask the Chief Minister for an update on what the Council of Ministers is proposing in relation to the Historic Child Abuse Inquiry which was approved by the States last March. Next Tuesday the Chief Minister is down for questions without notice, hopefully someone will be ask for an update and also ask that the Verita report and recommended Terms of Reference be published.

I note that four questions have been lodged relating to the suspension of the former police chief. Deputy Higgins is asking the Home Affairs Minister to publish the letter from the Deputy Chief Officer of the States of Jersey Police to the then Chief Executive of the States in November 2008, which precipitated the suspension of the Chief Officer of the States of Jersey Police and, if not, why not?

Those who have followed the suspension will know that it is apparent that the Deputy Chief's letter was amended without his knowledge because in paragraph 93 of the Napier Report R132/2010   it states;  In the light of the arrival and contents of the Interim Report, one interpretation of the facts is that an earlier draft of the Report of Mr Warcup was changed. Support for such an hypothesis can be seen in the further revision of the letters that were sent by Mr Crich at 21.15 on 11 November to the Solicitor General’s office, which are said in the email to have been “amended in the light of this evening’s conversation.” The version of the letter headed “Suspension from Duty” now states “On the 11th November 2008 I received a letter from the Chief Executive to the Council of Ministers enclosing a copy of a letter he had received from the Deputy Chief Officer of Police concerning an interim report he (the DCO) had received from the Metropolitan Police into the conduct of the historic child abuse enquiry in Jersey.” I must record, however, Mr Warcup’s assertion (which I have no reason to doubt) that his letter to Mr Ogley was not amended by him.

When giving reasons for resigning the former Deputy Police Chief blamed the activities of unnamed States Members and Bloggers but he must have been well aware that by his misguided actions he had allowed himself to enter a hornets nest where people at the highest level were prepared to bend or break the rules to achieve their goals. Bending, breaking or turning a blind eye to the rules brings me conveniently to my Blog.

The Report below was recently published in the New York Times and may well ring a bell with the recent arrest of a team of Drug Dealers in Jersey. I am not getting drawn into the actions of the Jersey officers involved with the arrest other than to say that the public are entitled to trust their police to conduct themselves in a law abiding manner. The same should be expected of their Civil Servants and Politicians.

As one can see below not all Courts are prepared to turn a "Nelson blind eye" when police officers, no matter how well intentioned, bend or break the rules to bring about an arrest. As a consequence the drug dealer was found not guilty and able to continue with his despicable trade.

Justices Say GPS Tracker Violated Privacy Rights
Published: January 23, 2012
WASHINGTON — The Supreme Courton Monday ruled unanimouslythat the police violated the Constitution when they placed a Global Positioning System tracking device on a suspect’s car and monitored its movements for 28 days.
A set of overlapping opinions in the case collectively suggested that a majority of the justices are prepared to apply broad privacy principles to bring the Fourth Amendment’s ban on unreasonable searches into the digital age, when law enforcement officials can gather extensive information without ever entering an individual’s home or vehicle.  Walter Dellinger, a lawyer for the defendant in the case and a former acting United States solicitor general, said the decision was “a signal event in Fourth Amendment history.” “Law enforcement is now on notice,” Mr. Dellinger said, “that almost any use of GPS electronic surveillance of a citizen’s movement will be legally questionable unless a warrant is obtained in advance.”  An overlapping array of justices were divided on the rationale for the decision, with the majority saying the problem was the placement of the device on private property.  But five justices also discussed their discomfort with the government’s use of or access to various modern technologies, including video surveillance in public places, automatic toll collection systems on highways, devices that allow motorists to signal for roadside assistance, location data from cellphone towers and records kept by online merchants.   The case concerned Antoine Jones, who was the owner of a Washington nightclub when the police came to suspect him of being part of a cocaine-selling operation. They placed a tracking device on his Jeep Grand Cherokee without a valid warrant, tracked his movements for a month and used the evidence they gathered to convict him of conspiring to sell cocaine. He was sentenced to life in prison.  The United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit overturned his conviction, saying the sheer amount of information that had been collected violated the Fourth Amendment, which bars unreasonable searches. “Repeated visits to a church, a gym, a bar or a bookie tell a story not told by any single visit, as does one’s not visiting any of those places in the course of a month,” Judge Douglas H. Ginsburg wrote for the appeals court panel.  The Supreme Court affirmed that decision, but on a different ground. “We hold that the government’s installation of a GPS device on a target’s vehicle, and its use of that device to monitor the vehicle’s movements, constitutes a ‘search,’ ” Justice Antonin Scalia wrote for the majority. Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. and Justices Anthony M. Kennedy, Clarence Thomas and Sonia Sotomayor joined the majority opinion.  “It is important to be clear about what occurred in this case,” Justice Scalia went on. “The government physically occupied private property for the purpose of obtaining information. We have no doubt that such a physical intrusion would have been considered a ‘search’ within the meaning of the Fourth Amendment when it was adopted.”  When the case was argued in November, a lawyer for the federal government said the number of times the federal authorities used GPS devices to track suspects was “in the low thousands annually.”  Vernon Herron, a former Maryland state trooper now on the staff of the University of Maryland’s Center for Health and Homeland Security, said state and local law enforcement officials used GPS and similar devices “all the time,” adding that “this type of technology is very useful for narcotics and terrorism investigations.”  Monday’s decision thus places a significant burden on widely used law enforcement surveillance techniques, though the authorities remain free to seek warrants from judges authorizing the surveillance.  In a concurrence for four justices, Justice Samuel A. Alito Jr. faulted the majority for trying to apply 18th-century legal concepts to 21st-century technologies. What should matter, he said, is the contemporary reasonable expectation of privacy. “We need not identify with precision the point at which the tracking of this vehicle became a search, for the line was surely crossed before the four-week mark,” Justice Alito wrote. “Other cases may present more difficult questions.”  Justice Scalia said the majority did not mean to suggest that its property-rights theory of the Fourth Amendment displaced the one focused on expectations of privacy.  “It may be that achieving the same result through electronic means, without an accompanying trespass, is an unconstitutional invasion of privacy, but the present case does not require us to answer that question,” he wrote.  Justice Sotomayor joined the majority opinion, agreeing that many questions could be left for another day “because the government’s physical intrusion on Jones’s Jeep supplies a narrower basis for decision.”  But she left little doubt that she would have joined Justice Alito’s analysis had the issue he addressed been the exclusive one presented in the case.  “Physical intrusion is now unnecessary to many forms of surveillance,” Justice Sotomayor wrote.  She added that “it may be necessary to reconsider the premise that an individual has no reasonable expectation of privacy in information voluntarily disclosed to third parties.”  “People disclose the phone numbers that they dial or text to their cellular providers; the URLs that they visit and the e-mail addresses with which they correspond to their Internet service providers; and the books, groceries and medications they purchase to online retailers,” she wrote. “I, for one, doubt that people would accept without complaint the warrantless disclosure to the government of a list of every Web site they had visited in the last week, or month, or year.”  Justice Alito listed other “new devices that permit the monitoring of a person’s movements” that fit uneasily with traditional Fourth Amendment privacy analysis.  “In some locales,” he wrote, “closed-circuit television video monitoring is becoming ubiquitous. On toll roads, automatic toll collection systems create a precise record of the movements of motorists who choose to make use of that convenience. Many motorists purchase cars that are equipped with devices that permit a central station to ascertain the car’s location at any time so that roadside assistance may be provided if needed and the car may be found if it is stolen.”




  1. Bob - keep 'em coming!

    You are not the only one who has been asking questions as to the ToR of Verita and when they will be made public.

    So far the silence is quite, quite deafening!

  2. I have asked that a scrutiny panel should look at the growing surveillance industry in Jersey.
    My request has been rejected of course.

  3. Bob, tell me;

    - At what point did the Jersey electorate have a say in (a) the introduction of ANPR technology; (b) how it may be used; or (c) who may have access to it?

    - If the answer to the above is that we didn't, at what point did States Members have an informed debate on the above topics?

  4. Hi James,

    You have raised a good point. ANPR stands for Automatic Number Plate Recgognition and from the report in the New York Times it appears that the system is operating in the USA. I did see a item on BBC News last week which was about the former Labour Government's promise to provide the UK police forces with similar equipment. Apparently a number of UK police forces are still waiting. I know from my police experience that the details of vehicle owners were available to us and there was a proper precedure to follow to obtain them. With technology it is now possible to obtain the details much quicker which does lead to greater efficiency and a saving of police time and that of the driver whose details are being checked.

    I don't think the public's views have ever been sought nor do I think there has been a debate. The details are probably data protected and probably can be obtained after the usual checks have been conducted.

    As mentioned above, you have raised a good point and I would suggest that you raise it with one of your elected representatives. It would be a good question to raise in the States.

  5. My States housing estate is patrolled by a private security firm. I apprehenfed a member of their staff writing down the reg numbers of vehicles - including my own - recently.
    Challenged by me he refused to identify himself or his purpose. Pressed, he claimed to be authorised by "housing" but would give no details. I complained to the Housing Minister by email and have yet to receive a response.
    Soon (a few weeks) afterwards I found a sticker attached to my car endorsed "Polite Warning Notice" and "States of Jersey". It was difficult to read the poor handwriting but appeared to be claiming that the details of my insurance disc could not be seen.

    Of course there might be some legitimate and useful purposes in keeping an eye open for missing or abandoned vehicles on housing estates but it is also obvious that such "private" security activity might encourage all sorts of abuses and bullying.
    Data protection issues apart, the growth of yet another "policing" body in this tiny Island cannot be considered as desirable.

    Inevitably, like wheel clamping, the most affected by such creeping "security" activities are those people without the luxury of their own parking spaces or at the sharper end of the poverty spectrum.

    It is not just about transport either - although Connex services stop here at 6.30pm mon-sat and do not exist at all on sundays thus forcing some people to own cars who might otherwise rely on public provision. It is also about a tightening up of waste disposal facilities and attempts to stifle recycling of useful household goods on pain of punishment!!

    By degrees, big brother intervenes in so many things.....

  6. Tom,
    The advice I give to you and anyone else is if someone is acting in a manner which concerns you is to ask for their identity. If they refuse to give it take a mental note of anything that may stick out and then tell the person that you are going to contact the police. If the person is genuine they will soon formerly identify them selves, if not you will see a clean pair of heels. If they do scarper report the matter to the police ASAP.

    One of the reasons why there is an increase in cameras and "quasi security" is because Joe Public can't be bothered to police themselves and their community.

  7. Bob, thanks. I know a fair number of places use ANPR in the UK that have nothing to do with law enforcement - Southampton Airport car park, for one - and my understanding is that the UK government has slid it into place as a fait accompli without proper debate. It looks like TTS wish to do the same at Sand Street.

  8. The people of Jersey already police themselves through the 12 Parish Honorary bodies.
    On this estate there is also a tenants group.
    The private security business has contracts with so many government departments partly because of Ozouf's cost cutting exercise - which in reality means that the work is outsourced but the cost remains the same or more.
    As this particular business grows they will surely gain access to official police data and vehicle records and who knows where that will end.
    The failure of the "privatised" system was never more apparent than the sad case of the man whose corpse remained undiscovered in his Cottage Homes flat for 6 weeks last year.

    Surveillance in its many forms is already out of countrol in Jersey simply because there is actually little or no controlling legislation in place.

    If scrutiny refuses to examine the problem then some other government body must take it on. In a normal society there would be concerned lawyers to examine and expose the issues but our lot cannot emerge from their finance obsessions.
    The Committee of Constables could undertake a study perhaps - this would be a useful and pioneering initiative - but I am not holding my breath.
    So Bob, it looks at though the Jersey Human Rights Group must add the subject to its future projects list.

  9. Hey! I'm at work browsing your blog from my new iphone 3gs!
    Just wanted to say I love reading through your blog and look forward to all your posts!
    Keep up the excellent work!

    Take a look at my web page; acrylic brochure holder

    1. Thanks for looking in, you might get more hits on your Blog if you submitted a comment on my recent Blog ad/or wait until I publish another in a day or two.

      Good luck with your brochure holders.