On the suggestion of Jason (thanks) we’ve made a FOIA request on the WhatDoTheyKnow.com website. The first interesting point is that SOCA is not subject to FOIA and therefore will not process FOIA requests. Under Regulation 4 of the Environmental Information Regulations (EIR), environmental information relevant to the functions of the Security Services, which does not adversely affect national security can be requested.
Apparently, it is SOCA policy to make non-operational information available on the SOCA website, in the spirit of the Freedom of Information Act. SOCA website have undertaken to take into account suggestions for additions to their website. You can only request information about the environment from this authority.
Never ones to say never, we’ve made a request anyway which you can follow here. The text of the request is:
Dear Serious and Organised Crime Agency,
PROCEEDS OF CRIME ACT 2002 (POCA)
Please provide information on numbers of central government, local government, senior civil servants and others employed by government related departments who have been subjected to POCA.
Please provide information on numbers of Members of Parliament who have had POCA applied to them.
Please provide information on numbers of members of the House of Lords who have had POCA applied to them.
Please provide information on numbers of members of the general population who have had POCA applied to them.
We understand that no information that may affect national security can be requested and believe that the information is demographic in nature and relevant to environmental issues. No information on specifics are required just simply number of POCA processes enacted against the above cross section of the
Because government departments are so corrupt and incompetent, they are using the Proceeds of Crime Act 2002 as a ‘catch all’ for allegations of fraud. When those allegations turn out to be spurious and nonsensical, they care nothing for the damage that has been done to the victims of POCA.
Families are being torn apart, businesses are closed down on a whim, people are being put out on the streets and the law does nothing to protect them from misfeasance and false allegations. Due to the number of successful awards being made the Law Lords have recently put into place amendments to POCA which prevent victims from claiming compensation for the loss they suffer as a result of governmental incompetence.
POCA HAS NO PLACE IN A DEMOCRACY – IT UNDERMINES THE VERY FOUNDATION OF DEMOCRACY, COMMON LAW AND HUMAN RIGHTS.
The Legal Services Department of the DWP has failed to adhere to the directions given by a Crown Court Judge putting them in contempt.
The Department for Works and Pensions took legal action in 2010 but have not yet made charges. The DWP used the Proceeds of Crime Act 2002 legislation normally reserved for crimes of terrorism; drugs; prostitution and gun running making accusations of benefits fraud.
Mrs K Hill, a spokesperson for the DWP in her reply to an enquiry made on by an MP says that “all action taken during this investigation, including the use of Management Receivers and the exercise of POCA powers, has been proportionate and necessary as part of the investigative process” and that the investigation is “conducted with due consideration of all legal guidelines and with appropriate guidance from DWP Solicitors”.
Under the powers of POCA, there is an entitlement to £250 each per week for living expenses. This money is paid from the accused own bank accounts and money.
Initially, the DWP failed to make money reliably available for 16 weeks. The situation resulted in an order being made by the Crown Court that the DWP had three days to sort out the living expenses.
Despite this order, the DWP remain unable to make the living expenses reliably available causing extreme duress, financial distress and making it impossible to buy food or to pay utility bills or rent. The cold weather had dire consequences on existing health problems and disabilities resulting in a deterioration as a result.
There had been no income since July 2010 and despite the matter being brought to the attention of the ministers responsible for the DWP, including Gill Aitkin, the Director General of DWP Legal Services; they remain without basic human necessities – the Equalities & Human Rights Commission are taking an interest in the matter as such a situation is clearly not “proportionate and necessary”.
None of those having responsibility for this situation have commented.
From the UK Human Rights Blog run by 1COR, an important issue has been highlighted. The coalition Government has appointed an independent Commission to investigate the case for a UK Bill of Rights. This Commission has also been tasked with providing advice to the Government on the possible reform of the European Court of Human Rights – as part of on the ongoing Interlaken process – ahead of and following the UK’s coming Chairmanship of the Council of Europe.
In our view a government appointed commission defeats the whole object of a ‘Bill of Rights’ as it is for the people to determine their fate and not for the government to decide what constitutes a “right” upon which the people can defend against an oppressive government.
Given the nature of legislation such as the Proceeds of Crime Act 2002 which has stripped people of rights such as a fair hearing; equality under law and innocence before guilt, is it blatantly clear that governments will seek only to give those ‘rights’ to the people that they deem appropriate and withhold rights that do not serve their purpose.
Perhaps this is why the European courts have become so contentious; perhaps this is why so many absurd human rights applications have been publicised; perhaps this is why the government now seeks to pull away from the European courts because there is at least some external examination of rights issues in this country, however absurd some of the decisions may appear to be.
We’d rather have a few absurd decisions being made than to have no rights at all; we’d rather have a voice that can be heard than to have no voice at all.
In the USA, the Patriot Act has all but eradicated their constitution and Bill of Rights – all in the name of protecting the population from the spectre of ‘terrorism’. While there is sufficient evidence to suggest that the very nature of the atrocities carried out on their soil have been carried out at the hands of their own government with those who seek an explanation for the anomalies being thrown in prison, ostracised or even murdered.
In the UK there is great scepticism about our own 7/7 attack yet anyone who dares to suggest that our government had a hand in what happened is treated in similar fashion. We’re being led down the path of complete totalitarianism in order to protect us from ‘terrorism’ yet we’re entering into yet another illegal war to (laughably) uphold democracy thus drawing further attention to this country as a target for any potential terrorist threat.
In truth, we have less to fear from terrorists than we do our own government(s); we lived for years with the ‘cold war’ and the IRA bomb threats in London yet we never had imposed upon us the draconian laws and legislations that have more to do with giving power to the authorities than to do with protecting the people from the phantoms introduced into our daily lives by the government and the media.
There has to be an independent authority which people can draw upon; there has to be a place where our concerns can be heard and where our voices will not be ignored – no matter how many seemingly daft decisions come from that independent authority.
Even if you don’t believe the conspiracies, ask yourself the question as often as you can – “what if the conspiracy theorists are right?”
Legislation introduced in this country, such as POCA, undermines the judicial process and removes the presumption of innocence before guilt is established or proven.
It is only right therefore that the media should not prejudice a case through negligent or emotive reporting that serves no purpose other than the sale of newspapers through sensationalism and could pervert the course of justice to the point that a guilty person might be freed and more importantly an innocent person might be found guilty.
Another aspect of fair-play however is the contempt the courts and officers of the courts (as well as government departments who feel they are protected from prosecution) that occurs in the execution of the law or in upholding legislation which is poorly understood and for which no controls are in place.
An example of this lies with our pet hate POCA (Proceeds of Crime Act), which allows management receivers (officers of the court) to be assigned to “manage assets” and who then proceed to liquidate those assets and pocket the proceeds themselves.
This piece of legislation provides for such companies to benefit to the tune of £17million (2007 figures) and there are no checks on balances of their activities; there is no one to oversee the results of their work; no one is held to account when errors are found and there is no one with whom responsibility for the actions of these officers of the court lay.
The course of justice is perverted and there is no one paying attention to this travesty – so much for transparency when the whole process is so glass-like that no one can see what is going on and more importantly, no one really seems to care.