Category Archives: Police
You may have seen my piece in the Daily Mirror today; you can read it here below:
Whatsapp is a “disaster for the police” – how we are losing the fight against the digital Jihadis
David Cameron should think again about air strikes against Syria and focus on the real threat to British security: the use of social media to pervert young minds. Labour MP Liam Byrne warns that apps such as Whatsapp, Viber and Snapchat are being used by extremists to groom recruits for ISIS and the police are struggling to stop them
The case of Boy S, the 15 year old Blackburn teenager convicted of inciting terrorism, reveals the new truth in the battle against extremism.
The front line is online. Now the Prime Minister looks poised to halt his expensive bombing plans for Syria, I’ve know a better place to put the money earmarked for Tornados and Brimstone missiles: the digital battle-front, where the case of Boy S proves, we’re being hopelessly out-generaled.
In a shocking testimony, the police laid bare the crucial role of social media through which Boy S was first groomed, and through which he planned mayhem.
It’s a change in tactics signalled in a little discussed manual written by Al Queda in Iraq – the group which became ISIS.
A Course in the Art of Recruiting’ was recovered by US forces in 2009 and sets out step by step the methods deployed by Isis groomers on instant messenger apps like Whatsapp, Twitter, Snapchat, Instagram, Kik, Viber and a host of apps few parents have ever heard of.
Today these apps are being used to pervert angry young minds with propaganda produced like pop videos, iconic images of the Knights of Lone Jihad and twisted snippets from the Quran, used to justify murder. And we’re not fighting back.
In my patch of East Birmingham, police, parents and teachers are worried. ‘Whatsapp’ is a disaster for the Police’ one intelligence expert told me. ‘We think 80-90% of our problem is the online world’.
It means the government needs to think again about it’s plans for counter-radicalisation coming to parliament this winter.
In the summer, David Cameron heralded new laws to restrict free speech – and take a tougher line on mosques. But the idea risks back-firing badly when the problem is not radical preachers in back-rooms – but chat rooms.
Before we start supporting military intervention in Syria – we should start supporting parents’ intervention at home.
Lobbing a few Brimstone missiles around in Syria costs around £1 million a mission. Frankly the money would be better spent with charities like Jan Trust’s Web Guardians, which teaches parents to spot the warning signs in their child’s online habits.
Why? Because in Birmingham police were shocked to discover at a community event recently that just 10% of mums knew how to log on – never mind check what their kids were surfing online.
Second, in a world where smart phones can be weapons, why don’t we at least have digital safety locks for under 18s – that prevent young people accessing things they shouldn’t. It’s surely not beyond the nation that cracked the Enigma ciphers to invent one.
Third, we need a huge campaign to flood social media with the counter arguments – theological and otherwise – to rebut the perverted arguments of the digital jihadis – arguments which have barely moved on since the last will and testaments of the 7/7 bombers, but which are now produced to world class standards, often by Brits abroad.
Fourth, it’s time to get tougher with digital giants, to force the rapid shut of what is frankly treason and fifth.
We need new laws to create a safe, supervised, judicial process for targeted intelligence gathering online – now mission critical in keeping us safe.
It is said the Prime Minister sees the war against extremism as a generational struggle. He’s right. But as Boy S proves, the prime minister is in danger of fighting the last war – not the digital battle now at hand.
Liam Byrne is the Labour MP for Birmingham Hodge Hill
Christmas crime prevention from West Midlands Police
All you need to know to keep safe at Christmas
Our Christmas Safety Guide contains lots of useful tips to help you keep yourself, your home, your car and valuables safe over the festive period. Please take a few minutes to read through our safety tips.
Keep your home secure
- Securely lock all doors and windows before going out or going to bed. Use a timer device to switch lights on after dark.
- Don’t put presents under the tree until the last possible moment – and close curtains so your gifts can’t be seen from the street.
- Mark your postcode on new presents with a UV pen. Note down the serial number and record it at www.immobilise.com so if it is ever stolen, you’re more likely to get it back.
- After Christmas, remove any trace of expensive gift packaging by taking discarded boxes to the tip or recycling centre.
Keep your car safe
- Check your fob has done its job – don’t assume your vehicle is secure, always check doors and windows are locked before you walk away.
- Remove valuables such as sat navs, MP3 players, laptops, tablets, coats and loose change before leaving the vehicle.
- Wipe away tell-tale suction marks from the windscreen – this may alert a thief to your sat nav being hidden inside the vehicle.
- Don’t advertise what you’ve bought by leaving gifts on show while you return to the shops – lock everything away in the boot. Take shopping inside immediately when you get home.
Freeze out car thieves
- Don’t leave your vehicle unattended and the engine running while it defrosts – a thief could drive off with it.
- Stay with your vehicle and if you’re in a rush, use de-icing spray and a scraper to speed up the process.
- Sit inside your vehicle while the heater de-mists the windscreen.
- Claims on insurance policies can be affected if the vehicle owner is deemed partly responsible for the theft.
Love your phone
- Be discreet – keep your phone and other valuables out of sight in public.
- Note down the unique IMEI number – you will need this number to report a stolen phone. Key *#06# into your mobile to display this number on screen.
- Listen to your instincts – know your route, avoid dark places and if you don’t feel safe, move to a busier area.
- Trace lost or stolen phones by activating the in-built tracker app or by downloading a reputable one from your app store.
Beat the pickpockets
- Keep handbags closed and close to you, and wallets out of back pockets.
- Try not to overload yourself with bags and coats.
- Don’t leave pushchairs, shopping bags or trolleys unattended. Take personal belongings with you into changing rooms.
- Be discreet when handling cash and cards at the till and at cash machines – put them away immediately and keep an eye on who is around.
- Pubs, restaurants and other venues will be crowded, so don’t hang bags over the back of your chair and keep wallets and purses close to your body.
- Have fun but drink sensibly – binge drinking and excessive drinking at home before a night out puts you at risk of crime. Never leave drinks unattended or accept them from strangers.
- Find out the times of the last tram, train or bus home, or pre-book a taxi from a local licensed operator.
- Never drive under the influence of drink or drugs.
Just a quick update to say I have been briefed by the West Midlands Police this morning on the arrests at Adderley School. At this stage, its important to note two things:
(1) The arrests relate to events specific to Adderley school and
(2) they are arrests – no-one has yet been charged for anything and the full investigation has to run its course. So I hope we’ll all give the police the space to their job – and not engage in a trial by media.
I’ll post more news when I can
Hodge Hill Ward
Crime figures and detail
Date range: 27th Feb – 6th March 2014
There has been one burglary and one attempt this week. Both were in the same block of flats on Washwood Heath Raod. We will be linking in with the housing trust about the security issues there.
Advice – Please ensure you secure your property at night and when you are not present. Lock patio and porch doors and do not leave the keys in them or near them – as this provides an easy escape route once the thieves are inside.
One vehicle was stolen this week – a new transit van where the owner had dropped the keys and the suspect picked them up and took the van. This was on Drews Lane. Two vehicles have had number plates stolen and a drill was taken from a van.
Advice – Please be aware of your surroundings when locking your vehicle. Park in well lit areas.
There have been two robberies one was a business robbery where a motorbike was stolen from near to the Hunters Moon – a male is in custody for this. The other relates to a suspect pretending to want to buy a phone from someone on Gumtree – who has then had the phone and other items stolen. There are lines of enquiry with this and arrests will be made soon.
Advice – Please remain vigilant and be aware of your surroundings at all times. Try not to make yourself vulnerable to being targeted.
The team have been concentrating their patrols around Bromford Drive and the tower blocks this week and we have conducted a letter and leaflet drop to every flat in WarstoneTower. We have been doing regular walk throughs to combat anti-social behaviour from the local youths.
There have been a number of meetings in relation to other civil interventions – joint visits and meetings with youths in relation to anti-social behaviour issues.
We are working with BCC in relation to a group of travellers who have moved on to Berrandale Road.
We would like you to follow us on Twitter @HodgeHillPolice
If you have any information about crime or ASB in your area contact us on: 101 ext 7601 6392 or call Crimestoppers on 0800 555111.
You can email us on: firstname.lastname@example.org
Earlier this week I secured an adjournment debate in Parliament to discuss Legal Aid for the families of those found dead in police custody.
It appears to be usual practice that the families of those who have died whilst in police custody are required to make a financial contribution to the costs of the Inquest into their relative’s death.
In modern Britain this is an affront to justice.
– You can find the official copy of my speech to the House of Commons here.
– The Birmingham Mail did a piece on my adjournment debate which you can access here.
– The brilliant charity Inquest, which provides support to those bereaved families facing an inquest, are an invaluable source of expertise and assistance on this issue. You can access their website here.