Military law

News that Military Police are now routinely patrolling an area of Birmingham gives Dave Woodhall concerns for the future.

You may not have noticed if you steer clear of the area, but Broad Street is now being patrolled by Military Police. The area hasn’t been the subject of a coup and as far as I know it isn’t heavily patronised by the armed forces, but they’re here on the streets of Birmingham helping the local police and bar security staff.

But who are they really helping, and why is their presence necessary?

Major Deborah Scott, who commands the local Royal Military Police unit, says that this is a common occurrence throughout the country, “The Royal Military Police regularly conduct joint patrols with our civilian counterparts; this enables good working relationships to be built between the military and civilian policing agencies.”

Fine in theory, but Birmingham isn’t a garrison town like Aldershot, we don’t have large numbers of forces personnel in the city and if we do they aren’t in uniform so presumably can’t be easily identified. All of which makes me wonder what exactly is the point of having soldiers patrolling the streets of our city. They have no more powers over ordinary citizens than you or I do, so why are they here? Why do they need these “good working relationships” with a police force they would otherwise rarely, if ever, come in to contact with?

Last October I wrote about the introduction of breathalysers by pubs in Selly Oak, to monitor customers for drunkenness. I said at that time that it wouldn’t be long before this and other initiatives were rolled out across the city, and last month the devices were introduced on Broad Street. Bar owners loved them, because apart from anything else they gave an increased power of veto over drinking elsewhere, but customers were less keen.

The gist of the article I wrote then was to air my concern at the increasingly blurred line between police and private security agencies, and the worryingly high levels of surveillance that law-abiding citizens now endure and are told they must welcome as being for their own safety.

To enter a Broad Street bar a customer might have to prove their sobriety, as well as the long-established ritual of age and identity. These are accepted as everyday measures. Now we are seeing the armed forces patrol the street – another development, we are told, that we should accept because it’s for our own safety.

Broad Street might not be the most pleasant place in Birmingham and I would guess that the sheer volume of people who flood into the area at the weekend means that crime and disorder levels are higher than average. However, if there is a particular problem with keeping the peace then that should be down to the police to solve. It’s what happens at football matches and political demonstrations; it’s what should happen on our streets and in any public place.

We should not have our civil liberties eroded or be subject to an ever-growing intrusion into our everyday business by growing numbers of security personnel just to make someone’s life a bit easier or to save money. And we should never accept that these developments are to help us when they are in fact conditioning the population into accepting authoritarian amounts of surveillance over our day to day lives. Each one, whether it be having to prove that you haven’t spent money anywhere else before being allowed into a bar, being caught on CCTV on average 300 times a day or being asked to confirm your identity by someone who has no legal right to do so, might not sound much in isolation but added together they became an attack on personal liberty that would have been unthinkable even a decade ago

It might sound alarmist, but Major Scott’s final words on this subject should also be cause for concern. “It also allows us to develop and maintain our policing capability should we be required to deploy on operations overseas.”

It also gives a handy indication of how easily the sight of the military deploying on the streets of a major British city can become. But it’s only for our safety, so we shouldn’t be alarmed.

11 thoughts on “Military law

  1. I’m not sure this is so surprising. The UK and Russia have largely now swapped places in terms of being corrupt repressive police states. In the UK we have the bbc now reduced to the arms industry’s propagandist, constantly lying about Putin’s supposed aggression while completely covering up nato’s well-documented conspiracy to overthrow with a fascist coup each time a democratically-elected president of Ukraine happens to be friendly with Moscow. Complete uk media blankout about the year-long (and ongoing) terrorist operation supported by uk “government” being deployed to terrorise and drive out the population of eastern Ukr so as to get control of the coal and gas and fracking there.

    Meanwhile more of this nonsense can be seen in the way that supposedly we are told Putin assasinated “main opposition leader” Nemtsov “right under the Kremlin”, when in reality Nemtsov was a long-discredited corrupt oligarch and had just moments earlier walked right across Red Square (genuinely right next to Kremlin) and only got killed when he was about 1/4 mile away on the bridge. And then peculiarly in that supposedly despotic “regime” a huge crowd was allowed to march right through central Mosc unmolested, whereas students trying to protest in London get beaten up and kettled and have now largely been scared out of protesting as a result.
    And Putin would have absolutely nothing to gain from a murder of Nemtsov, and Putin is hardly sufficiently idiotic to not know that.

    And the uk media meanwhile have made no mention at all about the REAL reign of terror the us/k nato have installed in Kiev’s Ukraine, where at least four opposition politicians have been murdered (or pretended suicides) in recent months. But why spoil a profitable (for arms industry) lie with any true facts? The arms industry don’t care how many wars they cause in other people’s towns and villages.

    • I hope you don’t mind me saying but why the f**k are you posting on here? What on earth have Putin, Russia and the Ukraine got to do with policing on Birmingham’s Broad Street?

      • “I hope you don’t mind me saying but why the f**k are you posting on here? What on earth have Putin, Russia and the Ukraine got to do with policing on Birmingham’s Broad Street?”
        The article is about a military police-state sort of development in Broad St. My comments are about similar military/police state matters.

        And “I hope you don’t mind me saying but”….
        How exactly did your reply add any enlightenment to readers?

      • Furthermore there is too much preoccupation with whether or not a matter is somehow “relevant” to a particular location. Some things need to be said to all anyway and often an “appropriate” place is never provided, indeed for the very reasons indicated in my first here.

        • Oh sorry, I do apologise. You’re one of the KGB ‘bots’ who normally seeks to defend your ‘glorious leader’ in the face of Western imperialist-inspired criticism on the UK national newspaper sites. Think you’ve come to the wrong place today mate.

          • So you’ve now followed up with a second completely un-useful reply. So perhaps it’s yourself that’s in the wrong place. Except that you are clearly badly in need of education about what’s really going on. Does it not occur to you that the arms trade needs regular wars like a vampire needs blood?
            Some videos of Eisenhower’s speech warning against the Military Industrial Complex:
            And just note which regimes have been constantly “helping” other countries such as Iraq, Libya, and, they hoped Syria.
            Meanwhile there are so many videos making clear the nature of the nato terrorist operations in Ukr that I wouldn’t know where to begin. But those who are happy to repeat cheap clichés won’t be interested in the truth anyway.
            Well, how about this one which the bbc had second thoughts about…
            And why have they gone so incredibly quiet about that same MH17 plane that was shot down by nato’s friends, oops sorry I meant evil Putin.

          • Why the pre-“moderation” given that the only person posting offensive ad hom troll posts is “Hengist Pod”? (no need to publish this one of course)

  2. Worrying but I suspect this is in response to the tragedy of Lee Rigby’s murder. The usual perceived threats have changed and the guarding against them has changed.

  3. Where does this story originate from? Has anyone actually seen these military cops? Or is it an urban myth?

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