Sack no Soldiers; Sack no Coppers; Sack no Nurses

I wish I had their confidence. The government is so convinced there could be no Mumbai-style attack in Britain they are cutting back on every resource we might need to deal with it. And as Liam Fox, Defence Secretary, told a Chatham House conference yesterday, there is more to come. He is right to say, “Tackling the crisis in the public finances is not just an issue of economics but an issue of national security too,” but as I asked in a post last year, “Should economic reality trump military necessity?” After all, we either spend the money and defend ourselves adequately, or we have no need for budgets for anything. This is a matter of survival, plain and simple.

Al-Qaeda could continue to target London, or they might do what the IRA did and seek out softer targets where they can stage what they also now call a “spectacular” with a higher percentage of success. In other words, an attack could happen anywhere in the country and we need the resources to cope with it throughout the country. But what are we doing instead?

Reducing front-line capabilities, but not tackling top-heavy administration.

Reducing front-line capabilities, but not tackling top-heavy administration.

Reducing front-line capabilities, but not tackling top-heavy administration.

As Rolf Harris used to say, “Can you see anything yet?” Is there a pattern emerging? Yes there is. Soldiers, policemen and nurses are bearing the brunt of the cut-backs, but not the generals, police chiefs and hospital administrators. Yet in a Mumbai-style attack, the police will be the first on the scene, large numbers of casualties will need to be taken to hospitals, and ultimately the army will need to be called in to assist as even a small number of armed terrorists rampaging through a city would be beyond the resources of any local police force. The police and medical services would still be stretched even if the attack was a series of coordinated bombings across a city. I ought to acknowledge that the fire service also has a vital role to play in these scenarios.

The government needs to focus attention on making the cuts where they are most warranted – at the highest levels, and not where they are most damaging – at the front line.

The WiFi bandit – stealing something of no worth

Police in London have arrested and released on bail a man they saw sitting on a wall using a laptop. When questioned, he had admitted he was using the householder’s WiFi network to get connected. There was no suggestion he was attempting to hack into any computer systems or steal identities, so what was his offence?

The police view is that dishonestly obtaining electronic communication services is an offense under Section 125 of the U.K. 2003 Communications Act, while unauthorised access to computer material is a summary offense under Section 1 of the 1990 Computer Misuse Act.

Broadband accounts are permanently connected and typically billed in flat-rate monthly amounts unrelated to the amount of traffic used. It doesn’t seem on the face of it he has deprived the broadband account holder of anything of any monetary worth or deprived him of the use of anything that was his to enjoy.

If anything, it is the broadband account holder who has been foolish in leaving his WiFi unsecured. The risks of a passing stranger innocently using it without your permission to access his own email or whatever is trivial compared with the risks of having your computer hacked and your identity or bank and credit card details stolen.

If people realise how wide-open they are to that kind of criminal activity, maybe they will secure their networks and maybe then some good will come of this curious incident.