Tag Archives: police

Lunatic House

The British immigration office in Croydon, just outside London, is called Lunar House, but anyone who has had to deal with them knows the place better as Lunatic House.

But even the machinations of the British Home Office look slick and efficient when compared to the federal police, who handle immigration in Brazil.

I have spent hours at the police office in Lapa, São Paulo, arranging my permanent resident visa. It’s annoying, but it is just one of those things that has to be done.

Given the amount of time and effort that I have expended so far on them, I was excited to find that my visa application had been approved. On the website it said I just need to arrive at the police office within 30 days to collect my visa.

I turned up there today with my passport, having paid the processing fee in advance, and expected to be collecting the visa. I was told that I should have booked an appointment in advance for collection. I showed them the website on my phone – there was nowhere stating that I had to book an appointment, just a request to come within 30 days of approval.

They said I should have called to check.

When I suggested that I was there, I had my papers ready, why can’t we just process it now, they said it was impossible without the booking form, and if I had a problem I would have to complain to the people in Brasilia.

Sometimes this bureaucracy is positively Kafkaesque. I know that immigration requires a fair amount of bureaucracy, but I just wasted hours today because they don’t put the required information on their website – and then they cast me aside when I complain, suggesting that it was my own fault for not calling them to check.

Thankfully my visa is approved. I just need to collect it. I’ll book an appointment and fetch it soon, but I made sure that I got a receipt for my taxi today. When I return to the police office, I am going to file a complaint and ask them to cover my expenses… let’s see how far that goes.

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What are you looking at, cripple?

There was an interesting story that hit the news here in São Paulo at the end of last week. A policeman parked his car outside at shop using the space reserved for disabled people. As he got out of the car, a guy was passing in his wheelchair. The genuinely disabled guy commented to the policeman that as a more-than-able-bodied citizen he might leave the space free for those who need it.

The policeman responded by calling him a cripple who shouldn’t get involved in the business of others and he even hit the guy in the wheelchair. The intensity of the physical violence seems disputed. The disabled guy says he was punched and attacked and the policeman says he only gave a few slaps around the face.

Either way, even if the physical attack was at the lower-end “just a few slaps”, what public official has the right to shout verbal abuse and physically assault a citizen when they do nothing other than pointing out that the policeman is not showing any respect to the community by using a space reserved for the elderly and disabled?

The police officer has been suspended pending an inquiry. Under normal circumstances it might be normal to expect this to just get swept under the carpet, but this time the man in the wheelchair is a lawyer. Let’s hope he does not rest until he finds some justice.
Police on bicycles at Waterloo bridge

Students smashing shop windows in London

Students are tearing up London today. There are riots as a reaction to the government plans to triple the maximum annual tuition fee, from £3,000 to £9,000.

I can understand the depth of feeling. I think that as we face increased global competition, a country like the UK has to educate our young people if they are to compete. We can’t compete internationally with an uneducated workforce – low-cost skills can easily be sourced elsewhere for much less than they cost locally in the UK.

And I was recently working in Malta, the smallest EU nation, where they still pay students to study. Course fees are all covered by the government and the students receive a stipend… cash straight into their pocket. It used to be like that when I was a student in the 1980s, though I was studying right towards the end of the glory days when it was free to study and you got a grant just for being a student.

Tripling the cost of education when we need more educated young people is outrageous, but I don’t think any students have helped their cause today by smashing up London. Most people in the UK are more concerned about the 500,000 public-sector jobs that are about to vanish – and probably a similar number in the private sector that were supporting those public-sector people. That’s a million people on the dole soon.

Do the students really think that their desire to study for free is considered more urgent or important than millions of workers being cast out to the wilderness of unemployment?

The NUS can’t demand that Lib Dem politicians keep their pledges. Our electoral system created a coalition. That meant the two parties agreed to compromise and one of the pledges made by the Lib Dems was lost in the agreement. End of story. Do they really think that smashing up the city is going to get Nick Clegg to change his mind on this? And much as I sympathise with them, I’m afraid most people won’t be sympathetic… students tearing up the city and breaking windows while others lose their jobs.

Where do you think public sympathy is going to go?

Lse library

Cleveland police outsource to Steria

I’ve made a number of comments on this £175m deal, just announced today:
You can see my video comment here…
You can hear my audio comment here…
You can see my blog for the National Outsourcing Association here…
It’s an important and interesting deal, even if you don’t usually pay attention to anything related to shared services. Here is a police authority placing their control room in the hands of the private sector. It should lead to improved service and cash savings, as well as allowing the police to focus on their community work – in theory everyone wins.
I expect to see a lot more of these public sector outsourcing deals in the near future as the new government seeks out ways to slash the budget. If they can do it through these kind of efficiencies then it should work in favour of the public, but there is no guarantee that every deal will follow this shared service model.

A fair days pay for a fair days work

Around 300 stadium workers at the world cup stadium in Durban refused to go home after work last night, causing armed police to treat the protest as a potential riot – charging the staff with tear gas and firing rubber bullets.

But why did the police need to go in so heavy-handed? The workers seemed to have a genuine complaint and they managed to voice it eloquently to the media – how come the management of their company felt it was appropriate to call in the riot police?

In the dry run, where they did a complete practice session for a world cup game, the management did not tell the workers how much they would be earning. On the day of the game itself many of the workers left home at 7am and were still at the stadium at 1am that night – it was a long day.

Then they got pay packets containing 190 Rand ($25) when some of them had heard unconfirmed rumours (supposedly from FIFA) that the workers would be getting paid 1,500 Rand ($195).

Perhaps the contractor might want to speak to the media to explain why these workers had no form of contract, no idea of wht they would be earning, and no help getting home from the stadium at 1am? FIFA ought to be there mediating between these workers and the contractor, not watching the police pump rubber bullets into people asking for fair pay for very long days making sure the world cup games run smoothly.

What’s going to happen to the next Durban game if all 300 workers decide to just not bother showing up for work?