Friday, 22 January 2010

Call for Green and Black people to register to vote

Shane Collins, Green Party Parlimentary Candidate for Dulwich and West
Norwood presented Rev Al Sharpton with a Brixton pound at the Operation
Black Vote 'Register to Vote' meeting Thursday 21st Jan at Friends
Meeting House in Euston.

Shane said 'The Rev Sharpton comes from Harlem, the spiritual home of
Marcus Garvey and his message of keeping economic power in the community
is more relevant than ever today with the corporate takeover of much of
our lives. This message has been taken up by Transition Town as
exemplified by the Brixton Pound which i was proud to present to the Rev

'Voter registration amongst the black community is around only 45% in
younger age groups, similar to the black youth unemployment rate. There
is a connection. Black and green people have the power to change the
results in the local and general elections but only if registered and

'So remember Rosa Parks, honour Nelson Mandela, take heart from President
Obama and register to vote by contacting your Town Hall or Remember racists register and racists
vote.' For elections on 6th May the deadline to register is 20th April.

Quote from Rev Sharpton speech

“How you define yourself is how you confine yourself. You have all this
technology, Facebook, Twitter, Blackberry’s. And you can’t get ten black
Britons to go and vote?

“At a time when we can elect Presidents, there is no excuse for us to be
sitting down and not doing anything, and avoid recognising that it’s a
new time.”

Saturday, 16 January 2010

Your survey responses - tackling crime in Lambeth

I've been reading the 60-second surveys that have been flooding in. Great that people in Herne Hill Ward have been prepared to engage with this way of feeding back concerns.

I've passed on a collection of the ones on anti-social behaviour to Tom Cornish who is the Sergeant heading up the local Safer Neighbourhood Team. On the strength of observations from residents in Poets Corner, the evidence for some bike thefts associated with drug-dealing has come to light.

I'm what's called a Winger. Sadly this says nothing for my fancy foot work. I sit at Camberwell Magistrates Court as a Justice of the Peace in a Bench of three (1 Chair & 2 Wingers). I am due to sit in the 'virtual court'. Prisoners already serving sentences sit in a room in the prison and can converse via satellite link-up with the Bench and their barrister in court. The plus is that prisoners don't 'lose their place' in a prison by being booked out, prison transport isn't needed and it saves on court time.

The Lambeth & Southwark court at Camberwell Green is reasonably well-balanced in terms of ethnicity, age and gender - though we do have rather a lot of women. A 22-year-old has joined us. We greatly miss Ted Lewis, former Co-op trade Unionist, Communist & greyhound racer.

Being a Magistrate is fascinating. I happened to join after being in the police service but it's not about understanding actual laws, to begin with, but to understand how to arrive at a fair decision. The recent discussion about being allowed to use force against a burglary has been interesting. I am pleased there has been no change in the law.

It's surprising how little is understood about the criminal justice system. I invite anyone to pop into a court and observe for themselves. It might inspire them to want to become a Magistrate themselves.