Tuesday, 30 March 2010

Bobby Watch Five

Regular readers will have noticed an absence of blogging activity on my part in recent weeks - the result of copious amounts of marking and a serious backlog of writing.  So what have the boys in blue been up to in my absence?

A spot of burglary according to the Exeter Express & Echo who report the Exeter's Police Officers have been identifying "insecure" residential properties and then entering them, collecting up valuable and placing them in a swag bag together with "crime prevention" literature which they kindly leave in the premises. This entirely illegal activity they claim is innocent and designed purely to scare people into improving their home security. 

As well as obvious objections to the police yet again seeing themselves above the law such behaviour could go horribly wrong if they targeted someone like Tony Martin.

Mephedrone & Glue - A tale of two drugs

Mephedrone, plant food and occasional drug is to be banned by Home Secretary, Alan Johnson, on the advice of the Committee of Scientists who are prepared to give politically acceptable advice (AMCD).  This follows reports that Mephedrone may have been related to a number of its users deaths which have whipped up a moral panic with the media demanding action. There have been exceptions to this reporting most notably Edmund Conway in the Daily Telegraph whose article What economics teaches us about drugs  is well worth a read.

The number of deaths attributed to Mephedrone has been estimated as up to 25. None of these are confirmed and it could be that it turns out that none of the deaths were actually caused by the abuse of plant food. However compare this with glue and other solvents. We can still go to any major DIY retailer, supermarket, or even the average corner shop and buy this product. But glue has a number of uses one of which is as a 'legal high'. It does indeed but the only coverage of the alleged 60 deaths a year I can find is on CBBC and that is from 2003!. 

Glue and other solvents of course remains legal. As do the drugs which kill the most: Alcohol and Tobacco.

Hat tip to Mills for the idea and research.
Hat tips to Syncronium for picture - Link to Mephedrone article on that site here

Thursday, 4 March 2010

Letter to the Editor of the Birmingham Journal 23 June 1853

I am currently researching the Birmingham Prison Scandal of 1853 and spent last Friday and Saturday looking through the Birmingham Journal of that year.  I came across this letter to the editor
Sir, Will you allow me, through the medium of your columns, to ask for the presence of the police at the upper end of Bath Street, at the hours of twelve noon and four pm. At these hours the children attending St Mary's Schools, Bath Street, and St. Chad's Catholic School, Shadwell Street, are let loose; and it has been their custom since the vacation to meet, to the number of thirty or upwards from each school, and attack each other with brickbats and stones.  The affair has to-day, on both occasions, assumed a very serious aspect, and if not speedily suppressed may necessitate an inquest, as the combatants are not at all particular as to the size of the missiles, and are evidently bent on doing each other mischief.
I am, sir, yours obediently,
William Parkes,
7 Bath Street,
But at least they didn't have any anti-social behaviour!!

If and when I have time I will go back and pull together a selection of the court reports and write something comparing them to those published today.

Michael Foot 1913-2010

"We are not here in this world to find elegant solutions, pregnant with initiative, or to serve the ways and modes of profitable progress. No, we are here to provide for all those who are weaker and hungrier, more battered and crippled than ourselves. That is our only certain good and great purpose on earth, and if you ask me about those insoluble economic problems that may arise if the top is deprived of their initiative, I would answer 'To hell with them.' The top is greedy and mean and will always find a way to take care of themselves. They always do."