Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Innocent? What's that, then?

Via JuliaM (who has been doing a superb job of highlighting police fucknuttery), it seems that the police have decided to reverse the burden of proof all by themselves.
People caught with “legal highs” like mephedrone face being arrested and having their homes searched.

Senior officers say the chemicals will be treated as illegal until tests show otherwise as they try to protect young people from using dangerous drugs which have not been banned.

Oh, what a surprise—it's the police using the old "won't somebody think of the chiiiiiiiiildren" defence.

Look, you fuckers: your job is to uphold the law—that is, the actual law not what you think the law should be.

I don't care whether you're doing it for the fucking kids or not: you treat the substance as legal until you have proved that it is illegal—just as someone is innocent until proven guilty. Do you see?
In Brighton and Hove officers are working with the NHS and city council to teach children about mephedrone as part of drugs education in schools and encourage young people with a problem to seek help.

Yes, fine: I don't really have a problem with this. It can be argued that, if government has any kind of role in this aspect of people's lives, it could—and possibly should—be as an adviser. I have no real problem with local government agencies delivering advice on what are, after all, occasionally dangerous substances to young—and often tragically ignorant—people.

I do have a problem with the police treating people like criminals before they are actually proved to be so. The police are quite clearly overstepping the bounds of their power here: they do not have the authority to make law on the fly—yet—and they should be reigned in quite severely.

After all, a country in which the police make up the law, and then act as judge and jury is rather the definition of a police state, isn't it? And I think that most of us would agree that police states are, generally, not particularly desirable...


Mr Ecks said...

Damages from false arrest payouts would surely put a large hole in the bastards funds?.False arrest would still result in damages awarded even in these crappy times.

Katabasis said...

You might be interested in reading about the "special treatment" South Yorkshire police are giving us at our venue.

Kay Tie said...

The police can arrest if they have reasonable suspicion that an offence has occurred. It hinges on reasonable.

There is also a provision in the law that an arrest can only take place if it is necessary: if the police are sure of the person's identity, and they aren't a flight risk then it's not necessary to arrest but to take a sample and do a test. It's certainly not necessary to search the person's house.

As Mr. Ecks says, the police overstepping the mark will lead to plenty of out-of-court settlements to any victim who comes across a decent lawyer.

theoldman66 said...

Kay Tie's first point is absolutely correct. His/her second one is dead wrong. In drugs cases it is necessary to search the person's house to see whether they are in possession of wholesale quantities, to determine the correct charge should the substance test illegal. The power to search the house without consent only exists when the suspect is under arrest. The Police are duty bound to enforce the various acts of Parliament which criminalise drugs, and the powers of arrest and search are governed by the Police & Criminal Evidence act 1986. No new Police powers, just yet more new offences enacted by Nieu Arbeit. The Police don't make the law, Parliament does, if you don't like the law it's pointless whinging about the cops, get yourself elected to Parliament and change it.

Outed said...

Simply, if you are caught by the Fuzz and found to have, say, sachets of unspecified white recreational powder about your person, it is a relatively simple job for the Cop to wave the magic drug divining stick over the stash and determine, in seconds, whether it is a 3-5-7-9 little white line or 2-4-6-8-Motorphetamine that won't be illegal until next week.

Arresting on suspicion that it is one of the chemicals that are on the Schedule is actually the right option. Now whether any of them should be illegal is a whole other question but for now, they are.

Bootleg chemistry runs ahead of the law's ability to criminalise molecular structures. How very errrm William Gibson c. 1990. Didn't see that coming.

Anonymous said...

your job is to uphold the law—that is, the actual law not what you think the law should be.

That's a nice idea but, in practice, it doesn't fly. So much legislation over the past thirty years has come via "delegated legislation", whereby parliament gives individuals the power to constitute new laws, that in a great many cases the law is not what the statute books say but what specific officials say.

The empowerment of government agents with powers to make or remake laws, with no reference to elected officials or the public, has created a culture that is anti-democratic at best and downright dictatorial at worst. The police and the courts are at the heart of the disaster that is delegated legislation and that is one major reason why they regularly abandon the written law in favour of what they feel the law ought to be.

We're swiftly approach a point where the law is whatever a Chief Constable arbitrarily declares it to be.

John said...

I'm pretty sure the government announced this drug is going to be banned within weeks - they pretty much takes their orders from the Mail now.
I've always thought the war on drugs can only get more intense, and this proves it. A bare handful of people die from some legal high (it's amazing that when when a teenager dies of alcohol poisoning it never makes the news, yet a club-drug death always does, even though they're far rarer) and the government bends over and does as it's told by the tabloids.