Flash Point

This is the kind of thing that sparks major unrests, riots, and even revolutions:

Flowers left near the site where a burglar was stabbed to death have been branded an “insult”.

Floral tributes and balloons for Henry Vincent, 37, have been repeatedly attached and then removed from a fence opposite a home in Hither Green, south-east London, where he was killed.

Basically, a career burglar who the authorities refer to as a “traveller”, which is the PC term for a gypsy, died after being stabbed in the chest by the pensioner whose house he was burgling at the time. The overwhelming majority of Brits (and any Americans who read the story) thought this was the best outcome that could possibly have occurred, with sympathy levels at zero (although naturally The Guardian had to publish a column saying it was a crying shame).

Many British people believe burglars go about their crimes with impunity, the police aren’t interested, and if they do get caught they’re either given paltry sentences or none at all and are back robbing and thieving within days. Among other things, this pushes up insurance premiums and some have to pay for expensive home security systems. So when they hear a burglar has been killed, a lot of people are happy about it: they see that justice has been done where the justice system has failed. I have to say, that’s pretty much how I feel too. I’ve been burgled and it’s not nice; at the time, I was in a mental state whereby had I the opportunity and a guarantee I could get away with it, I’d have set the perpetrator on fire and slept well that night.

People were therefore outraged when the pensioner who stabbed the burglar was arrested. Gone are the days when the police used to bring people down the station and take a statement, the modern British police run around arresting people for pretty much anything. This suits them as it means they can take DNA samples and fingerprints, adding to the database they’re so desperate to complete, and with the process being the punishment they can use an arrest to inconvenience those who upset them. And nothing upsets the British police more than someone who didn’t meekly stand by while being a victim of a crime, much less someone who sinks a knife into the chest of a burglar. They think they enjoy a monopoly of force and intend to keep it that way. Thankfully, the public outcry over his arrest led I to his being released; had that not occurred, I’m sure he’d have been charged with at least manslaughter, possibly murder.

What then happened was the burglar’s family and friends – also gypsies – went to the address where he died and covered the fence on the property opposite with flowers, turning it into a sort of shrine. This was almost certainly done to intimidate the pensioner, who hasn’t been able to return home, fearful there may be retaliations:

Many residents in Hither Green have interpreted the large tribute to Mr Vincent as an aggressive act.

One neighbour said they saw a car circling the block while the tribute was being erected, which they believe was an attempt to intimidate locals.

If intimidation was the aim, it appears to have worked. Most neighbours are reluctant to talk publicly for fear of being drawn into a dispute that may not be over.

It is well known in Britain that gypsies are violent, consider themselves above the law, and the police are too afraid to tackle them. Frankly, many British people are fed up with travellers, their behaviour, and what they are perceived to get away with and there was a lot of anger over this flower business. Hence this:

The bouquets have been repeatedly taken down by a man who called it an “insult” to Mr Osborn-Brooks.

A man indentifying himself as Cecil Coley said he first removed the flowers overnight on Monday after becoming “infuriated” by the tributes.

He said: “It was a residential area they were placing flowers on. It was inappropriate, and the guy deserves no tribute.”

If the police had any sense, they’d be all over this before it gets out of hand. They’d have told the burglar’s relatives to fuck off back to their caravan site and if any of them are seen within half a mile of the address, they’ll be thrown in jail. Then they’d have chucked the flowers in the nearest skip. Instead they did nothing, so a member of the public has taken matters into his own hands, infuriated with the situation. You can be sure millions of Brits share his frustration and are applauding his actions.

There is a good chance the gypsies will attempt to resurrect the shrine and then hang around to defend it, which might well tempt a group of vigilantes to get together in large numbers and beat the hell out of them. I suspect then the police will go in mob-handed, but that all depends on who else joins in. I’ve written before about what happens in developing countries when the police let criminals operate with impunity, and show no signs of being on the side of the public. Eventually the mob deals with the criminals, and then deals with the police when they turn up to tackle the mob. There is every chance we could see the same thing here, unless the police get a grip.

Mass protests, riots, and revolutions, often start with something minor, a seemingly insignificant event that the authorities initially overlooked but symbolised deep grievances within the population who decided this was the event which would galvanise them into action. The Arab Spring was started by the Egyptian government removing flour subsidies. The Syrian Civil War grew from protests over the detention and torture of a bunch of teenagers in a provincial town. One of the few protests which genuinely worried the Russian government was after a man was prosecuted for the death of some high-ranking official who had recklessly driven into him; millions of people felt the injustice and were angered at the manner in which the ruling classes flout the law. I’m confident the next time Russia’s government is overthrown, it will start with something mundane.

It’s the job of a responsible government to not let these grievances fester, and to identify potential flashpoints and intervene to snuff them out before they turn into something serious. As with most things, Theresa May’s government and what passes for a police service are failing in their duty miserably, leaving the British public feeling increasingly ignored, insulted, and bullied while certain protected groups are free to do as they please. If they don’t get a handle on this situation developing in Hither Green quickly, the burglar might not be its only casualty.

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59 thoughts on “Flash Point

  1. Over at Samizdata I raised the point that in the US accomplices can be charged with murder in these cases, unfortunately the UK has no equivalent legislation.

  2. Laying anything other than a token tribute is a clear case of breach of the peace.

    Will we see some of the zero-tolerance, Al-Capone policing that the Met chief has been promising in the last few days? Somehow I doubt it.

  3. Its almost like nothing has been learned from the Cromer report by the rest of the country’s police forces:

    Police failed to recognise the severity of disorder said to have left a seaside town in lockdown this summer and, consequently, failed to deploy enough officers to deal with it, a review has found.

    Norfolk police wrongly described the trouble in Cromer as low level. In fact, many businesses felt the need to close on one of the busiest weekends of the year amid many reports of crimes, including a rape and thefts.

    “The force misread the significance of events and provided an ill-judged statement on social media referring to the disorder as ‘low level’,” an internal review of its performance over the course of the weekend of 18-20 August read.

    Police belatedly identified the primary culprits as members of a group of Travellers who had arrived in the town towards the end of the week in which Cromer was holding its annual carnival.

    But then we all know that “lessons will be learned” is just the establishment’s way of fobbing us off.

  4. What does switzerland do with its “traveller” community?

    Parks them in inconvenient places, moves them on, and still has a right to self-defence.

  5. BIG beat me to it.

    I thought the police had three clear grounds to remove or stop those laying flowers.

    1) Not their property
    2) Littering
    3) Potential breach of the peace

    Perhaps it is my selection bias but I’ve only heard of breach of the peace being used on completely harmless un-pc weirdos or people who’ve made a dark joke on social media who get some frothing mob at their house and they get arrested instead of the mob (look up Matthew Woods).

    The fact they have not nipped this in the bud indicates that the police are completely useless and have a cowardly disregard for law-abiding citizens. It signals to me that if you are bolshy, difficult and signal a threat of violence the police will give you more room to act as you please. Trust and society breaks down when this occurs.

    It is a disgrace. Local Vigilanties, like the Independent Working Class Association (IWCA) had in Oxford to tackle the criminals, sound more and more like a necessary idea.

    Self-Defence is No Offence!

  6. Asked the ex copper who sits behind me in the office i’m working in at the moment why the pensioner was arrested. Apparently it’ll be for two reasons-

    Make it easier to secure evidence to corroborate his version of events

    To ensure the custody clock starts ticking properly. Due to abuses by police in the past, e.g. using tricks to hold people longer than they should, there are rules around the circumstances you ask people to the station to make statements. If you arrest someone it gives them better protection from police naughtiness – they can then be de arrested later on with no impact on their record.

  7. Andy H – I’m sure that the average copper believes “If you arrest someone it gives them better protection from police naughtiness – they can then be de arrested later on with no impact on their record.” but tell that to some acquaintances who were arrested (a dawn raid, no less) following some fantasist’s accusation as it was later determined (a lot later – process being a punishment). They were used to travelling to the US for busiess and family reasons using the visa waiver system. They can’t do that any more – they now must go to London and apply for a visa in person. Not a great inconvenience, you may say – but a wholly unnecessary one, and they report that US Immigration takes a greater interest when they arrive.

  8. What I find really interesting about this is how a few years ago the outrage expressed towards thieving violent travellers and other anti-social types would have been restricted to the Daily Mail and a few other places where stupid people sound off. Now, though, we have intelligent considered responses such as this blog and its commentators, and it seems that more articulate middle-class responsible people are having their say. Something’s happening, isn’t it? Admittedly, most of the “caring” types I know are still careful to be seen to be on the side of the “underdog” (i.e. violent thieving travellers, lawless ethnic minorities, etc.) but there are signs of change. I only hope that the government sees which way the wind is blowing before things get really nasty.

  9. The Daily Mail had pictures of the cards accompanying the flowers, written by the deceased’s various relatives, all of whom, it seemed to me, had exactly the same handwriting.

  10. That’s not because it’s a one-man show, it’s actually because only one of them can write, the others being all disadvantaged and oppressed.

  11. Not a great inconvenience, you may say – but a wholly unnecessary one, and they report that US Immigration takes a greater interest when they arrive.

    And imagine how much greater that interest will be with an unnecessary arrest for murder on your record.

  12. From that article – nice mounted police patrol for the cameras and media, job done. Fuck off back to the station for a cuppa.

  13. Andy H – thats inline with this blog post from “the secret barrister”

    Much has been made about the fact that the 78-year old householder in the present case has been arrested and (presumably) interviewed by the police, before being released. It is worth remembering that the police have a legal duty to investigate cases where there has been a loss of life. Part of the investigation may involve arresting a suspect so that they can be interviewed.

    Whether an arrest is necessary in a given case – as opposed to inviting a suspect in for an interview – depends on whether certain statutory factors have been satisfied. But on its face, there is little unusual in the police arresting somebody suspected of killing another person. The police will usually have a reasonable suspicion that a crime has been committed – because somebody has died a non-natural death – and the arrest will usually be necessary to allow a prompt and effective investigation, the combination of which means that an arrest is permissible. It is no indication of whether a charge will follow; rather it is on its face the police complying with their legal duties. When a suspect is arrested and detained at a police station, they have a panoply of rights, including the right to independent legal advice. If they are interviewed under caution (as one would expect), they will have the opportunity to advance any account of self-defence, which will then form part of the file that is passed to the Crown Prosecution Service for a charging decision.”

    Link to blog

    Not quite the daily mail spin as has been suggested

    Pretty sure Mohamed setting himself on fire was what kicked off the Arab Spring

  14. Pikeys believe they are bareknuckle supermen when in fact they are just bullies who operate as disorganised/organised crime.If they take a beating from members of the public I’d happily cheer and join in if given the chance.

  15. There is a principle of human behaviour known as a “Schelling Point” (or focal point) which draws/attracts/impels people to turn up at certain places. The excellent website Isegoria has talked about this (http://www.isegoria.net/2016/08/schelling-incidents-and-schelling-points/) and helps illustrate why people are drawn to certain places with trouble in mind.

    People being drawn to a place of some contentious issue can quickly get involved in some sort of aggressive behaviour or even riot. The fact that the media make such places very well known acerbates any tensions, as you might expect. The old dictum ‘keep away from crowds’ is the exact opposite of what aggrieved (or imagined aggrieved) people want.

    The tribal nature of ‘travellers’ makes it certain that the issue of this burglar’s death — understandably regarded as generally a good thing by a lot of normally law-abiding but frustrated people — won’t be allowed to slide away. But then we are good at introducing tribes and aggravation into the UK, so nothing new there.

  16. There is something very sick in a society where it is the burglary victim who lives in fear of retribution, and not the associates of the perpetrator.
    In any just society, those associated with the villain would be keeping a very low profile indeed, not seeking to draw vengeance towards them. Their arrogance is breathtaking.
    This needs to be closed down very quickly before it escalates out of control. As other comemntators have mentioned, there is plenty of legal scope for the police stopping these ‘tributes’. That would also send a message about whose side they are on.

  17. The problem is that the number of angry young men who would be required to duff up the malefactors probably doesn’t exist: the population – at least its British part – is ageing rapidly.

    Maybe they should just hire some East Europeans to sort ’em out. Then, of course, the E Europeans might take over. You are aware, I take it, that the Romano-Britons originally hired Anglo-Saxons to defend them from Pictish pirates. That didn’t work out well for the R-Bs.

    I suppose we might ask ourselves: if arseholes in shitholes can hire British mercenaries to sort out their little local difficulties then why can’t we?

  18. Due to abuses by police in the past, e.g. using tricks to hold people longer than they should, there are rules around the circumstances you ask people to the station to make statements. If you arrest someone it gives them better protection from police naughtiness

    So the police arrest people to better protect them from police abuse? I’m glad this came from an ex-policeman, because it does more than anything to reveal their mindset.

    they can then be de arrested later on with no impact on their record.

    Although that’s not quite true. As others go on to point out, there is a question on many visa and job application forms which ask “have you ever been arrested? If so, give details.” And you get about an inch of space to explain the whole case. Being arrested is a serious embuggarance for the rest of your life, and the police know it. The process is the punishment.

    What the Secret Barrister said is quite correct in theory, but as we see all too often the police have considerable leeway here. Time and again we get stories of protected groups not being arrested, even if the police receive multiple complains of child rape, yet their cite chapter and verse on protocol when arresting this pensioner. The public perception of this is appalling, and while the police don’t care about public perception and think we’re all ignorant knuckle-draggers when it comes to policing, it actually matters very much. The public are sick of it, and if they don’t abandon tin-eared approach soon it’ll be assume they’re in the side of the criminals.

  19. Now, though, we have intelligent considered responses such as this blog and its commentators,

    You make a valid point, but for my part I’ve always known what these people were like. I grew up in rural Wales and there were loads of them around, always stealing stuff from farms. I’d happily see them told to clean their act up, thrown in jail, or forced out of the country – their choice.

  20. Pretty sure Mohamed setting himself on fire was what kicked off the Arab Spring

    Yes you’re right, it was the bread prices which kicked it off in Egypt later. But it’s another good example: one guy protesting about corrupt minor officials hassling street vendors and the whole region implodes.

  21. … and while the police don’t care about public perception and think we’re all ignorant knuckle-draggers when it comes to policing, it actually matters very much.

    The police, pretty much everywhere in the first world, all seem to have forgotten that they only exist by the sufferance of the population. We have essentially subcontracted out the job of vengeance to a presumably neutral third-party. The ones who don’t feel the need to care about the perception of the public towards them should check the total number of police in the UK, subtract that number from the total population, and, if they’re smart, be chastened.

  22. So you get MORE rights if you’re arrested instead of just questioned? This is either nonsense or a perversion of justice.

  23. I hope the people who removed the crowds don’t get problems from the gypsies. I would only do it if I were sure I could not be identified.

  24. Pingback: From Elsewhere: Flashpoint! – Fahrenheit211

  25. People like the Secret Barrister should get themselves arrested for something, and then released without charge, so they can see exactly how their own life is negatively affected by it, then they can pronounce on how its ‘entirely neutral’.

  26. Tim

    It’s worse than you say:
    Leading property expert Henry Pryor, who has been in the property business 34 years, said: ‘Inevitably house prices will be affected. (from the Mail)

  27. This is the sort of incident which could well escalate as it unleashes a lot of pent-up anger about the kid gloves treatment of unjustly protected groups without, in this particular case, being specifically about the most taboo group to criticize.
    Many people will, at the moment, shy away from revolting over the protecting of Islam because they wouldn’t want to be accused of “Islamophobia” and there are a lot more psycho Islamic head cases around.
    Most people rightly think that the “racism” protection of so-called travelers is balls and so fear the accusation less.
    Of course, over time if nothing changes – and there is little sign that it will – then the general public will become desperate and start not to care about any accusation at all. Then the police and political establishment really will have a problem.

  28. The problem is that the number of angry young men who would be required to duff up the malefactors probably doesn’t exist …

    This is actually a huge and worrying problem. When you think about the make-up of the fighting-age male population, we’ve probably already reached a point where the useful and/or patriotic are equalled by the malevolent/useless. If you worry about the possibility of serious civil unrest, then the window of opportunity for a positive result is rapidly closing.

  29. As an old school comic book geek, it always amuses me that the prelude to V for Vendetta states that the Nord Party (Moore’s thinly veiled Nazi analogue) got themselves elected because of the perception by the British populace that the government wasn’t doing anything about violent crime by immigrants.

  30. There occasionally comes a time when people who have had enough of appeasement say “Not again! The line must be drawn here! This far, no further! And I will make them PAY for what they’ve done!”

    Let’s hope this is one of those times. It’s long overdue.

  31. It could cause a flash point, but it won’t, because decent law-abiding people have too much to lose to bother getting caught up in something like this – whether that means involvement with the police, the travellers, or the media (though hats off to the two men that have).
    If the police step in to remove the flowers, that might lead to riots (police v travellers), and they know it hence they’re steering clear.
    The only angry young men we have couldn’t give a shit about this type of thing. It’s not the type of flashpoint that created the 2011 riots.
    Decent people will tut and turn a blind eye knowing it’s better not to bother.

  32. Tom: ”The ones who don’t feel the need to care about the perception of the public towards them should check the total number of police in the UK, subtract that number from the total population, and, if they’re smart, be chastened.”

    I’ve been watching ‘Police UK: Armed & Deadly’ about the UK’s armed cops and it’s quite eye-opening. There’s a distinct difference between 99% of them, who are what I’d call older ‘old fashioned coppers’ and the one token younger metrosexual who is careful to not imply that anyone would need to be shot if there was any possible way to avoid it.

    Sadly, that’s the tv show, and I rather think the ratio in real life is inverted.

  33. When you think about the make-up of the fighting-age male population, we’ve probably already reached a point where the useful and/or patriotic are equalled by the malevolent/useless.

    That’s why the good citizens – men and women – left in your amazing country need AR-15’s. =)

  34. Julia: Sadly, that’s the tv show, and I rather think the ratio in real life is inverted.

    Possibly, I’ve gotten to the point where literally nothing would surprise me anymore. Except the David Icke lizard thing being true – THAT would surprise me! 😉

    MC: The Filth makes clear whose side it’s on.

    Just scanned through that article. Good Lord, are they really that stupid? If they do arrest someone for ripping down flowers, and there isn’t some response, that would be a sign that society probably has gone past the point of no return.

    I liked the Mail referring to those who ripped down flowers as ‘vigilantes’. You might be able to make a case that they’re vandals, but vigilantes? No.

  35. Sadly, that’s the tv show, and I rather think the ratio in real life is inverted.
    I fear you are right. The last cohort of police that was overwhelmingly sound is now nearing retirement age. I know someone who’s been working for the police in a civilian role for nearly 15 years. The events he describes to me are truly horrifying and are only getting worse. He is a very conscientious person and struggles to hold on to his temper and sanity.

  36. I’ve never understood the bleeding heart soft touch approach to the ‘travelling community’.

    Every interaction I’ve had with them has been distinctly unpleasant. Casing houses, illegal roadblocks for horse races, illegal encampments on public land, flytipping, racial abuse of minicab drivers, doorstep scams and animal abuse are all things I’ve seen them doing with my own eyes. I’m sure they are responsible for a good chunk of the local crime stats. There was a local murder too recently, within their own community though.

    How they managed to scam status as a racial group under legislation is even more mind-boggling. As for that whole Dale Farm episode…

    The thing is, they are actually quite predictable in the offences they commit, so I’m surprised the authorities have been so slow to develop effective tactics to deal with them.

  37. The Filth makes clear whose side it’s on

    The YouTuber Jonaya English has been filming various Football Lads/anti-grooming-type demonstrations and conducting interviews over the last year. She has recently been threatened over social media, threats that she believes are serious, and tried to bring them to the attention of her local police. In an email exchange a Superintendent accuses her of stirring up racial hatred, and indeed lectures her ‘Just as you have freedom of expression so do people who support ISIS’.

    This last statement is staggering. ISIS is a proscribed terrorist organisation in the UK. It is a criminal offence to ‘invite support’ for proscribed organisations.

    Malevolent or incompetent?
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_B0HB_drvLU

  38. Malevolent or incompetent?

    Having looked at what appears to be the individual’s LinkedIn page, deluded and deranged might be a better description.

  39. I’m a Yank so not familiar will British law but I have to ask, especially having read the secret barrister quote. Does a police officer get arrested after being involved in a fatal shooting or is it just desk duty?

  40. @ Rick: You’re really showing your yankhood there!
    British police aren’t armed. Fatal shootings are thus pretty much outside their capability.
    In circumstances where authorised firearms officers do tool up & shoot someone, it is usually a totally desperate scenario with some “Mag Dog” hardcore type who has really, really, really, asked for it.

    (Excepting of course if a Brazilian tourist is rushing to catch a train.)

    That aside, the essence of your point is valid.
    Well said. Love your work!

  41. @Rick: They are suspended (restricted to desk jobs) and the Police Complaints will have a good hard look, but murder charges are very seldom brought, and when they are, it’s usually well after the fact. And for the wrong cases. See Tony Long case, the shooting of tooled up black thug Azelle Rodney. A jury saw sense.

  42. It’s a serious matter someone was killed, so I don’t necessarily have an objection with him being arrested whilst it was clearly established that a case of manslaughter did not apply and his killling was justified. I am all for minimialstic Old Bill but yes when you off someone your collar should probably be felt and the incident immediately investigated.

  43. >when you off someone your collar should probably be felt and the incident immediately investigated

    Immediately investigated, of course. Arrested as a matter of course? No.

  44. Just saying and not being involved and given the seriousness, arrested and charged for suspected manslaughter is appropriates in accordance with our long established and sound judicial procedures. This is exactly what we have this establishment for and is the only thing that seperates us from the likes of thieving, trespassing and threatening Gypos.

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