Marching towards a police state
I don’t often disagree with ScepticIsle, but I do on one point. He says we’re sleepwalking towards a police state. I fear we’re marching there.
From tomorrow, it will, in effect, be illegal to photograph policemen.
Of course, the government will claim that the intention of this act is to stop terrorists preparing to kidnap policemen. This is phooey. For one thing, we know that so-called “anti-terrorist” laws are used to harass innocent people and have no use in catching terrorists. And the police are already using absurd pretexts to stop people taking photos.
Instead, the effect of this measure is obvious. Say the police are attacking an innocent person—which they do. A by-passer takes photos as evidence. He is then arrested under the act and the photos then disappear. The CPS then drops charges against the police as it has no evidence.
It doesn’t matter that our by-passer will probably escape conviction as he has a “reasonable excuse.” The damage is done.
It’s already very difficult to prosecute the police even when a jury finds that they lied through their teeth. This act will make it even harder, and will enable the police to further mistreat and harrass ordinary people.
The police are, in effect, above the law. What’s more, whereas the public cannot photograph the police, the police are increasingly freely photographing even wholly innocent members of the public.
In this sense, the police—far from being the servants of the public, as Robert Peel intended, are increasingly becoming an army of occupation.
Chris has neatly encapsulated everything that is wrong with this law, and the dangers inherent in it; further, Chris is not a man who indulges in wilful hyperbole (unlike your humble Devil) and, if he believes that we are marching towards a police state, then we are.
Actually, it would be more accurate to say that we are marching towards a fascist state: one of the chief features of said regimes is corporatism—the way in which private companies are co-opted to serve the interests of the ruling government.
This government has managed this by farming out huge contracts to private companies for sums so vast that many of said companies could not exist without said contracts; in order to fulfill these huge jobs, companies have had to expand so quickly that, without the state contracts, they would probably not survive.
Simultaneously, the government has made the Third Sector largely dependent on state largesse, not only through destroying the urge or ability to indulge in voluntary giving through a heavy tax burden and nanny-state philosophy.
Finally, one of the most insidious corporation is the most powerful police lobby: the Association of Chief Police Officers (ACPO). I have mentioned this before, and LPUK has been banging the drum about ACPO for some time. Now, it seems, the MSM has caught on...
Britain's most powerful police body is being run as a private business with an annual income of around £18million.
The Association of Chief Police Officers (ACPO), which oversees everything from anti-terrorism policy to speed cameras, was last night facing demands that it be disbanded, following a Mail on Sunday investigation into its activities which include:
- Selling information from the Police National Computer for up to £70—even though it pays just 60 pence to access those details.
- Marketing ‘police approval’ logos to firms selling anti-theft devices.
- Operating a separate private firm offering training to speed camera operators, which is run by a senior officer who was banned from driving.
- Advising the Government and police forces—earning £32million of taxpayers’ money in the process.
- Employing retired senior officers on lucrative salaries.
Until now, ACPO’s central role in policing has not been questioned as it is seen as an essential, if sometimes controversial, public body writing the rules on police operations as well as campaigning on key issues such as the proposed 90-day detention for terror suspects and the DNA database.
But the organisation is not a public body, nor is it a police trade union or even a campaign group. It is a private company—a self-styled ‘global brand name’—paid millions of pounds a year by the taxpayer to effectively run the nation’s police forces.
Because ACPO is a private company, members of the public cannot use the Freedom of Information Act to scrutinise its operations.
This is all extremely dangerous: it is effectively rule by unaccountable private fiat: after all, it is not as though we, the citizens, can even choose not to buy their products—they are imposed upon us.
An ACPO spokesman defended the organisation’s activities. He said: ‘ACPO is an independent, professionally led strategic body. In the public interest, ACPO leads and co-ordinates the direction and development of the police service nationally.
‘In times of national need ACPO, on behalf of all chief officers, co-ordinates the strategic policing response.
‘ACPO is funded in part by the Government in order to collectively develop advice for them. Project work which ACPO undertakes on behalf of the police service is at the request of the Home Office and goes towards public protection against serious and strategic threats that can only be tackled above force level.
'All funds to ACPO are employed in the interests of public safety and the police service.’
Really? These people are unaccountable thugs, funded by our money and accountable to no one. They are not even a QUANGO: they are a private company.
ACPO recently approved the use of a new type of speed camera—essentially those that do an "average speed check"—to be used by police forces (via Obnoxio and The Landed Underclass). So, a private company is dictating the manner in which we should be policed. Further, it seems very likely, given their other documented activities, that ACPO actually has a financial interest in promoting these cameras.
This is utterly unacceptable and I must, once again, disagree with Chris Dillow: we are not marching towards a police state—we are already there. All that needs to happen is for the police and the government to use the laws that they have placed on the statute books, and we are all fucked.
I repeat: the laws are already there—all that we have to rely on is the hope that our lords and masters will choose not to use them...
UPDATE: Guthrum, podting at Old Holborn's place, has pictures of the Section 76 protest this morning. A rather good turn out, I see.
Oh, and apparently...
A Home Office spokesman said: "For an offence to be committed, the information would have to raise a reasonable suspicion that it was intended to be used to provide practical assistance to terrorists. Taking photographs of police officers would not, except in very exceptional circumstances, be caught by this offence."
As Guthrum says, if you'll believe that, you'll believe anything...