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Blues and Twos - Police & Law Blog is a an amalgamation of thoughts, feelings and observations on news, current affairs and UK policing in general. Our police blog has contributions from officers of the rank of Inspector (Organ Grinder) down to Constable (Monkey). Blues and Twos - The Police Officer's Blog

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Monday, October 30, 2006

Police Want Ban On Flag Burning

Police Want Ban On Flag Burning is a news story published on the police news site.

In a move likely to 'spark' further protests and 'ignite' community tension, Met Police chiefs have suggested making the burning of flags during protests illegal.

'Fanning the flames' around this issue is the Metropolitan police authority, who have resolved to take a firmer hand in determining how demonstrations are conducted and where they can be held.

Turning the 'heat' on protestors has been something discussed in the past, with one source stating that officers were "reluctant to intervene because they did not want to be accused of interfering with a Muslim protest during a time of great sensitivity".

Whilst 'fuelling' the debate, another source said, "We would not dream of letting the BNP that close to a mosque, so why were these people allowed to menace the cathedral in this way? We are not going to let people go around talking about killing Muslims, but neither are we going to have Muslims going around talking about killing anyone else."

The 'burning issue' here is that the setting alight of flags is considered a national sport in some middle eastern countries, with participator levels close to that of fishing or Sunday league football in the UK. There is a real threat that human rights lawyers may have a 'flicker' of hope in getting round any legislation passed by the government.

Sheik Pyro Burnhim of the Finsbury Park Flag Burning Club is said to be very distressed at the proposal. Sources close to the team [sponsored by Bryant and May] are telling Blues and Twos that several team members had hoped to compete in the Jehadist games next year, and likened the move to the banning of hand guns, which destroyed the UK's chance of winning Olympic small arms glory in the 90's. The source went on to add that several Finsbury Park FBC members are seriously considering a move to countries which allow and fully embrace the sport of burning national flags.

The problem has been 'smouldering' away for several months now, with Len Duvall, the chairman of the Metropolitan Police Authority, saying that the force was determined to send a message. "People have the right to [demonstrate] but they must do so peacefully and without causing undue offence." The change in police tactics coincides with discussions about the adequacy of police powers to deal with a growing number of high profile, emotionally charged events.

Labour MP Shahid Malik has backed the suggestion. "The burning of flags at demonstrations or pickets is quite clearly an act which has the power to incite violence," he said. "These appear to be sensible proposals which I believe all sensible people, irrespective of religion or race, will support." But Shami Chakrabarti, Liberty's director, said: "It looks like some people have been watching too many American movies. The police already have wide powers, especially for dealing with people wearing masks."

British flag manufacturers are said to be dismayed, with some suggesting the banning of flag burning is a direct attack on their industry; which has seen a massive increase in flag production over the last five years, due mainly to the rising popularity of flag burning as a sport in some sections of the UK's community.

Jenny Jones, a member of the Metropolitan Police Authority, said: "Let them burn flags. It is better than burning buildings. It is not desirable, but people have to let off steam somehow."

Hmmm, I wonder as we're approaching Remembrance Day, what our nation's glorious war dead would think of Jenny Jones' comment - regarding the flag they've paid the ultimate sacrifice serving under.

Click here for further flag burning discussion.

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