Have your say on how fire and rescue service information is accessed

Last month, Home Secretary Theresa May set out her vision for the fire and rescue service in England.

One element is to bring greater transparency to the fire and rescue sector by publishing more service information to the public online, just as the Home Office has done with policing.

By making information more accessible, the public can compare fire and rescue services in England on issues such as performance, value for money and diversity, monitor trends over time and hold elected leaders to account.

The Home Office is currently considering how it can deliver this commitment and is keen to work with the public to develop proposals further.

It has opened an online survey which aims to understand what fire and rescue service material is currently viewed online, why it is viewed, and where this information is currently obtained from.

Additionally, the survey asks what other information could be published, and how it could be made more accessible.

Merseyside Fire & Rescue Service is keen to help publicise this survey and would like to encourage as many people as possible across Merseyside to take part. The survey should take no longer than 10 minutes to complete, and it is open until 5pm on Friday, July 8.

You can take the survey here: http://www.homeofficesurveys.homeoffice.gov.uk/s/onlinefrspublic_scmiu_kc/

Any information you provide will be stored on secure government networks and will not be processed outside those networks. It will be kept for a maximum of one year from the closing date.

The Home Office will only use the information for internal purposes and it will not be shared with anyone from outside government.

New Permanent Secretary for Ministry of Defence

The Prime Minister of the United Kingdom has appointed Stephen Lovegrove as the new Permanent Secretary at the Ministry of Defence. He will succeed Jon Thompson, who is taking up the post of Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs Chief Executive and First Permanent Secretary.

Mr Lovegrove is currently the Permanent Secretary at the Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC), a post he has held since February 2013. The starting date for Stephen Lovegrove’s new appointment will be confirmed shortly.

Stephen Lovegrove commented on his appointment. “I am thrilled to be joining the Ministry of Defence: keeping Britain safe and employing over 250,000 people all over the world in a hugely diverse variety of roles,” he said. “I look forward to the getting to grips with its many different challenges, not least implementing last year’s Strategic Defence and Security Review.
It has been a great personal and professional privilege to lead DECC over the last three years, and it is a wrench to be leaving such a tremendous department and such expert and dedicated colleagues and friends.
“During my time here we have made lasting changes to transition to a low carbon energy system, and played a hugely influential role in the achievement of a global deal to combat climate change, and I am very proud to have been a part of that.
Nevertheless, I am delighted to be given the opportunity to tackle new challenges at the Ministry of Defence with the excellent team there.”

Stephen Lovegrow, pictured with Amber Rudd, is the new Permanent Secretary at the Ministry of Defence. Courtesy: Department of Energy and Climate Change.
FULL OF ENERGY: Stephen Lovegrow, pictured with Amber Rudd, is the new Permanent Secretary at the Ministry of Defence. Courtesy: Department of Energy and Climate Change.

Amber Rudd is the Energy and Climate Change Secretary. “I’d like to thank Stephen for the leadership he has shown in taking DECC forward in a new direction,” he said. “He has played a crucial part in changing the department into one which is focused on putting consumers first, and making sure the country has secure, affordable and clean energy that our families and businesses can rely on now and in the future.
I have really valued his advice during my time as Secretary of State, and I know the Ministry of Defence is getting an excellent leader.

Michael Fallon is the Secretary of State for Defence.
DEFENCE TACTICS: Michael Fallon is the Secretary of State for Defence. Courtesy: UK Government

Defence Secretary Michael Fallon also commented on Mr Lovegrove’s appointment. “I am delighted that Stephen Lovegrove is to be our new Permanent Secretary and bring his wealth of experience from DECC, the Shareholder Executive and the private sector,” he said. “I look forward to working with him to implement the SDSR, to make Defence more innovative, and to protect this country.

Sir Jeremy Heywood is Head of the Home Civil Service “I would like to congratulate Stephen on this appointment,” he said. “He has done a superb job leading DECC over the last three years and has made a big contribution to the Government’s energy and climate change agenda. His skills and experience leave him strongly placed to lead MOD’s vital and complex operations.

Prior to joining DECC, Stephen Lovegrove was Chief Executive of the Shareholder Executive and a Director General at the Department of Business, Innovation and Skills. Whilst there, he oversaw the development of strategies for the Royal Mail, Ordnance Survey, the Met Office and Land Registry, disposed of Government’s holdings in British Energy, Qinetiq, UKAEA and the Tote, and established the Green Investment Bank.

Before joining the Civil Service he was a managing director in the corporate finance department of Deutsche Bank where he worked for eleven years, and before that he was a strategy consultant. Mr Lovegrove also sat on the Board of the London Organising Committee of the Olympic Games and Paralympic Games.

He attends the National Security Council Officials meetings, is a member of the Civil Service Learning Board and a member of the Civil Service Management Board. He is also a trustee of the Charities Aid Foundation and a Non-Executive Director of Grosvenor Estates. Mr Lovegrove was appointed Companion of the Order of the Bath (CB) in the 2013 New Year Honours. He is married and has two daughters.

The process to recruit Mr Lovegrove’s replacement at DECC will start soon, with an acting Permanent Secretary likely to be appointed to cover the role in the short term.

Defence Secretary witnesses Scottish innovation at its best

Michael Fallon is the Secretary of State for Defence.
DEFENCE TACTICS: Michael Fallon is the Secretary of State for Defence. Courtesy: UK Government

Defence Secretary Michael Fallon has met with leading Scottish based companies that are bringing cutting edge technology to the front line.

The Defence Secretary with Alastair Morrison, Senior Vice President Radar and Advanced Targeting and Norman Bone, Managing Director, Finmeccanica Airborne and Space Systems Division

Mr Fallon visited SeeByte, a leading software SME and Finmeccanica Airborne and Space Systems Division, Edinburgh, a Defence electronics, communications and radar company.

SeeByte provides the MOD with state of the art software that pilots its underwater unmanned vehicles (UUVs). The firm, which employs 61 people, was awarded a $1.55 million (£1.1m) contract in December 2014 by the MOD, and has since integrated its software onto three Iver3 underwater unmanned vehicles, which are undergoing trials. SeeByte received funding in 2012 through MOD’s Centre for Defence Enterprise (CDE), which aims to remove barriers for innovative small companies to enter the defence supply chain.

Finmeccanica Airborne and Space Systems Division is currently working with the MOD on current and future radar programmes for the Typhoon fighter aircraft. This includes a contract to develop the latest type of radar system – known as E-scan – which is sustaining around 500 jobs at the site in Edinburgh.

Michael Fallon stressed the importance of Scotland being inside the UK. “Britain’s defence relies on Scottish brainpower,” he said. “We’re backing that brainpower by increasing the defence budget every year of this decade, meeting the NATO 2 per cent spending commitment and investing £800m ($1130) in innovation.
Together with our pilots at Lossiemouth, our submariners at Faslane and the Army regiments, that puts Scotland right at the heart of the nation’s defences.
The visit follows the launch by the government of an £800m i$1130) innovation fund, to harness the entrepreneurship and ingenuity of the private sector so the UK can maintain an operational edge over adversaries.

Dr Bob Black is CEO of SeeByte. “At SeeByte we were delighted to be given the opportunity to host the Secretary of State for Defence, Michael Fallon and to be recognised as the UK’s leading player in the field of maritime autonomous systems,” he said. “We are very proud of the work we have conducted with the UK MOD, and we look forward to continue this working relationship to enhance the future autonomy of unmanned maritime robotic platforms.

Norman Bone is the Managing Director of the Finmeccanica Airborne and Space Systems Division in Edinburgh. “I am delighted to welcome the Secretary of State to our Edinburgh site,” he said. “We are proud of our support to the UK’s Armed Forces, and of the innovative way we develop advanced technology to make sure it’s available where and when our customers need it.
Our systems are an essential part of the future on all types of operations.
In Finmeccanica, our commitment to investment in the UK’s defence and security sector is seen in our research, in developing our people, and in the partnerships we build with companies across the UK and in export.”

Investigatory Powers Bill has mixed reception

The UK Government introduced the Investigatory Powers Bill to Parliament today. The Bill has had a mixed reception.

The Investigatory Powers Bill sets out the powers available to the police, security and intelligence services to gather and access communications and communications data in the digital age, subject to strict safeguards and world-leading oversight arrangements.

Theresa May is the Home Secretary for the United Kingdom.
AT HOME: Theresa May is the Home Secretary for the United Kingdom. Courtesy: Originally posted to Flickr by the Home Office.

Home Secretary Theresa May introduced the Bill. “This is vital legislation and we are determined to get it right,” she said. “Our proposals have been studied in detail by a Joint Committee of both Houses of Parliament established to provide rigorous scrutiny, and 2 further committees.
The revised Bill we introduced today reflects the majority of the committees’ recommendations – we have strengthened safeguards, enhanced privacy protections and bolstered oversight arrangements – and will now be examined by Parliament before passing into law by the end of 2016.
This timetable was agreed by Parliament when we introduced the Data Retention and Investigatory Powers Act in summer 2014.

Andy Burnham is the Shadow Home Secretary.
HOME ALONE: Andy Burnham is the Shadow Home Secretary. Courtesy: NHS Confederation

Shadow Home Secretary Andy Burnham was more critical. “Labour has taken a responsible and constructive approach to working with the Government on this important legislation and we will continue to do so,” he said. “However, it has major implications for privacy and how we are governed and policed.
We will therefore take time to get this legislation right and will not be rushed into reaching our judgement on it.

Home Secretary Theresa May disagreed. “[T]he Government has also published an operational case for bulk powers as set out by the security and intelligence agencies – giving unprecedented detail on why they need their existing powers and how they are used,” she said. “Terrorists and criminals are operating online and we need to ensure the police and security services can keep pace with the modern world and continue to protect the British public from the many serious threats we face.

Shadow Home Secretary Andy Burnham conceded the Bill was an improvement on the Draft Bill. “It is clear that the Government has made a number of changes to their original proposals,” he said. “We welcome that and the stronger safeguards they have incorporated into the Bill.

A spokesperson for the The Worker Revolutionary Party UK added: “May’s bill is nothing more than an attempt to put this illegal mass surveillance on a legal footing – to put into law the right of the state to monitor and hack into every phone, tablet and computer in the country. It will legalise the use of already existing facilities on these devices that enable them to be hacked and taken over.

The Investigatory Powers Bill is scheduled to pass into law before the end of 2016, addressing themes which were the focus of the Joint Committee, Intelligence and Security Committee and Science and Technology Committee reports.

Boris Johnson and Iain Duncan Smith criticised on EU

Boris Johnson has come under fire from Shadow Home Secretary Andy Burnham who has accused him of putting personal ambition ahead of the country by backing a vote to leave the European Union. Burnham has also criticised Iain Duncan Smith for saying that continued membership of the EU puts the UK at greater risk of Paris-style terrorist attacks.

Andy Burnham believes being in the EU is better for homeland security.
HOME GAME: Andy Burnham believes being in the EU is better for homeland security. Courtesy: NHS Confederation
Shadow Home Secretary Andy Burnham believes the comments from the two eurosceptic Tories were highly irresponsible and inaccurate to boot. “It raises the question of whether ministers campaigning for Brexit can realistically remain within the Cabinet if the statements they are making are so fundamentally at odds with settled Government policy,” he said. “As Iain Duncan Smith well knows, the UK opted out of the Schengen open borders agreement and therefore retains control over who comes in and out of the country, and even the Prime Minister and Home Secretary said yesterday that our membership of the EU brings real benefits in terms of security cooperation.
The sharing of information helps us better protect our country and, as somebody who was in the Home Office on July 7th and 21st 2005, I saw first-hand how the European Arrest Warrant stopped terrorists evading justice.
These misleading comments are not worthy of a senior Cabinet Minister and demean what needs to be a serious debate about our country’s future.

NATO’s military response to Russia

NATO adopted a two-pronged response to Russia’s actions in Ukraine 2014. These are divided into what it describes as Assurance and Adaptive measures.

DEFENCE TACTICS: Nato has set out its strategy for dealing with Russia. Courtesy: Nato
DEFENCE TACTICS: Nato has set out its strategy for dealing with Russia. Courtesy: Nato

The Assurance measures seek to reassure the members of the Alliance that border Russia. These include bolstering air policing and air surveillance in the Baltics and along NATO’s eastern flank and a more visible military presence in these states by means of additional exercises and training.

The Adaptive measures seek to adapt NATO’s force structure to strengthen the ability of the Alliance to respond to any crisis that may occur. These include significantly enlarging the existing Response Force, creating a new ‘spearhead’ force of around 5,000 troops, and pre-positioning equipment in member states along the eastern flank.

Some of these measures were adopted in April 2014 as part of NATO’s immediate response to Russia’s actions in Ukraine. They crystallised into the Readiness Action Plan adopted at NATO’s Summit in September 2014. The Plan reflects what NATO says is the “most significant strengthening” of its collective defence in decades. Further measures have been adopted at subsequent Defence Ministers meetings. The next NATO summit is in July 2016 in Warsaw, Poland.

Trident ‘not the only option’ to deter war

Trident is not the only option to deter war, a candidate and homeland security researcher in the by-election for Llantrisant Town has said.

Freeman of Llantrisant Jonathan Bishop, who is standing as an independent for the town and who is a strong supporter of the Llantrisant War Memorial Campaign, questions whether Britain going it alone with Trident will actually protect national security.

Freeman Bishop, who studied economics at Aberystwyth University and has a masters of laws degree in European Union law, says Britain must look beyond its own shores. “Much of the cost of Trident involves paying other NATO members to provide the labour and materials,” he said. “With NATO members facing the same threats from the same international powers and terrorists, we should be sharing the control and costs of a nuclear deterrent with our allies.

Freeman Jonathan Bishop believes a shared nuclear deterrent between NATO members will reduce the cost of Trident for British taxpayers.
HOMELAND ECONOMICS: Freeman Jonathan Bishop believes a shared nuclear deterrent between NATO members will reduce the cost of Trident for British taxpayers. Courtesy: Jonathan Bishop Limited

Freeman Bishop, who has patented technology that can reduce the number of civilian casualties in warzones, says the government should ask whether an independent deterrent is actually an option. “Homeland security is not just about renewing Trident,” he said. “The Royal Air Force is instrumental in defending British airspace and the National Crime Agency needs expansion to protect us from new threats,” he said. “Renewing Trident might be an issue for Labour MPs fearful of losing their seats to Tories in the 2020 General Election, but in my view we should be collaborating with our allies in NATO to achieve a more affordable shared deterrent.

It is not clear whether Labour candidate Liz Smith agrees with her husband Owen Smith, MP, over his strong support for another Trident programme. But another independent in the election, Louisa Mills, who works for a London-based woodcraft organization, is clear where she stands, saying she wants to send “peace and love energy across the world – near and far.

Louisa Mills wants to send "peace and love energy across the world - near and far."
PEACE IN OUR TIME?: Louisa Mills wants to send “peace and love energy across the world – near and far.” Courtesy: Copyright(c) Louisa May Mills.

Ashu M. G. Solo is a former infantry officer and platoon commander understudy. “Peaceniks turn a blind eye to genocide and ethnic cleansing and ignore atrocities by foreign dictators,” he said. “They trust foreign tyranny more than their own military, care more about domestic lives than foreign lives, put domestic prosperity over foreign liberty, and prefer peace under tyranny over war for liberty.

Freeman Bishop, who is a member of the Institute of Marine Engineering and Technology, says defence policy is not as simple as war being the opposite of peace. “Whether we like it or not, war has been a reality for the last 5,000 years and things are unlikely to change any time soon,” he said.  “In my view we should be reducing the number of nuclear powers in the world to between four and six with NATO being one of them, which would mean they would be an ‘oligopoly,’  so that at some point in the distant future, they could all disarm at once.
Both my grandfathers were involved in World War II, one as a gunner and the other as a miner, so as nice as we would like the world to be, unilateral disarmament like some peaceniks call for will not work.

Transforming the UK Home Office into a Department for Homeland Security: Reflecting on an Interview with a Litigant Defending Against Online Retaliatory Feedback in the US

Transforming the UK Home Office into a Department for Homeland Security: Reflecting on an Interview with a Litigant Defending Against Online Retaliatory Feedback in the US

Jonathan Bishop

Abstract

Retaliatory feedback is a significant problem on the Internet, which is not just confined to online auction websites, but other online environments dependent on reputation systems. Explored in this paper are the acts of an Internet troller who spread malicious and false allegations that the series of conferences called WORLDCOMP are “fake.” This paper interviews one of the organisers of this conference to ask how they went about dealing with the retaliatory feedback, and in particular their engagement with law enforcement agencies, such as the FBI, the police and the civil courts. To reform the UK Home Office requires learning lessons from this and the US Department of Homeland Security. This paper proposes making greater use of National Crime Agency and Police and Crime Commissioners to provide a better strategic set-up for law enforcement under the UK Home Office. It also suggest using publicly funded solicitors and community wardens, as opposed to the current set-up of police constables, to deal with community policing. The paper concludes that in order for the promise made by the New Labour Government to be “tough on crime and tough on the causes of crime” to become a reality, encouraging peaceful discourses between community members and former offenders is essential.

Full Text

Reference

Jonathan Bishop (2014). Transforming the UK Home Office into a Department for Homeland Security: Reflecting on an Interview with a Litigant Defending Against Online Retaliatory Feedback in the US. Journal of Homeland Security and Emergency Management 11(4), 511-531. Available online at: http://resources.crocels.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/4/transforming-the-uk-home-office-into-a-department-for-homeland-security.pdf

Concerns over NATO police operation

As the Home Office announces “one of the UK’s largest-ever policing deployments” in South Wales at the 2014 NATO Summit, concerns have been raised about public safety for those wanting to protest peacefully.

POLICE THREAT: Concerns are raised that scenes like this at the G20 summit in London where police traumatize protesters will be repeated in South Wales at the 2014 NATO summit. Courtesy: Kashfi Halford
POLICE THREAT: Concerns are raised that scenes like this at the G20 summit in London where police traumatize protesters will be repeated in South Wales at the 2014 NATO summit. Courtesy: Kashfi Halford

The 2009 G20 summit in London resulted in a number of members of the public suffering trauma through being mishandled by police when trying to protest peacefully. Concerns have been raised by human rights advocates that there would be a repeat of the violence from police officers at the NATO summit in South Wales. Ashu M.G. Solo is a civil rights activist. “The police should be equipped with miniature lapel cameras to protect themselves and the people,” he said.

Questioned about the risks to the public at the NATO summit from overzealous police officers, a Home Office spokesperson said: “It is up to the police how they want to police it.”

Members of the public caught up in any violence against them by the police are advised to make a complaint via the Independent Police Complaints Commission. They can be contacted by phone at 0300 020 0096 or via their website at http://www.ipcc.gov.uk

Karen speaks on censorship

The Campaigns coordinator for the Liberal Democratic Party in Rhondda Cynon Taf has criticised the post-election censorship of council meetings by the Labour coalition of councillors on Rhondda Cynon Taf County Borough Council.

Karen Roberts is a former councillor on RCT Council, making alliances with Graig’s Bob Fox and Talbot Green’s Paul Baccara following falling out with the Plaid Cymru coalition that got her into power in Clydach, before her losing subsequent elections. Roberts criticises the way the Labour coalition of councillors has not kept its promises on broadcasting council meetings. “Having promised in their manifesto that they would broadcast council meetings on the web they have now back tracked on that, as indeed on so many of their pre-election promises,” she said. “Presumably they do not want the general public to see the disgraceful way in which they behave; from that point of view they are quite happy to have the main HQ in Clydach Vale.
Now don’t get me wrong, Clydach is my home, I think it is wonderful, but the industrial estate which houses the Council Chamber is not on a bus route and hardly the most accessible of places.

OUTSPOKEN: The former Pontypridd MP, Kim Howells. Courtesy: Wikipedia
OUTSPOKEN: Former Pontypridd MP, Kim Howells said he should have tried to control the Labour Party more when he was in power. Courtesy: Wikimedia Foundation

The news comes as retired Pontypridd MP Kim Howells speaks out on revelations of smear campaigns whilst the Labour Party was in power at Westminster. The MP, who regularly criticises the epidemic in-fighting in the Labour Party because of the effect it has on Labour representatives getting elected, believes he should have done more to control it. “I always loathed that kind of party infighting, and the kind of shenanigans that go on in those circles, and stayed away from it,” he said. “I suspect people like me should have been doing more.

The Labour Party is known for its deep divisions, such as New Labour v Old Labour, which has given rise to factions like Progressives influenced by Blairism, as well as grassroots left-wing movements like LabourList. Popular phrases like “what it said behind closed doors stays being closed doors,” “divided parties lose elections,” and “how do we get our message over to the public” dominate the Labour Party’s censorship of free speech and debate. On councils where Labour coalitions have majorities, secret meetings are regularly held to fix the votes at council meetings, regardless of the merits of arguments made on the night. At party conferences the Labour Party chairs regularly call to the mic those who are “wearing a red scarf,” who in fact are individuals who have been planted to ask a question or make a statements that the Labour Party hierarchy has already approved.

As Karen Roberts says, such policies are not appropriate for current times. “There is no sign of the local party on Twitter or Facebook – a few individual councillors have accounts, but they do not use them to engage with the general public,” she said. “They don’t enter into discussion in any groups or in any local forums.
In a world which is increasingly reliant on social media as a means of communication the Labour party don’t seem to engage with that either.  
There is a County Council website of course, which is all too often overly party political, but that is run by one of the myriad of public relations staff. 
There is a Council Twitter feed which kindly kept us all up to date with the Wimbledon news through much of June.