Monday, February 16, 2009

Marching towards a police state

He's a man that I often disagree with but, via the Britblog Roundup #209, this Chris Dillow article is so good that it is worth quoting at length.
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...


Anonymous said...

How about instituting a “photo a plod” day, I would be happy to contribute to a modest prize for the most foolish looking policeman/policewoman.

Dr Evil said...

This is very sinister. Usually when some unelected and unaccountable body says it is operating for the public good, it is lying. I cannot understand why this is conived at by the Home Office considering all the control freaks in Nu Labour, especially ministers!

Dr Evil said...

Connived FFS!

Earthlet Nigel said...

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...

Some hope, they will use these laws when they start to see a perceptible loss of control. The election is looming on the horizon.
What's the betting some event transpires to delay or postpone it???????

The snot-gobbler has already mooted National Government, oh and just for interest he is known in Germany for the same thing as the

wv bledli and we will

Anonymous said...

I don't think the sharp edge will come until obama has finished clipping the wings of the american eagle... our lords and masters normally take the yanks lead in these things.


What happens if while filming/taking photographs,plod walks through my line of sight?Also when on a demonstration i am regularly filmed by plod,and usually reciprocate by photographing him,if i am now forbidden to do so ,this changes our relationship,he no longer polices by consent,his powers are now arbitrary.

Anonymous said...

This is very odd. Speaking as a serving officer, I would have thought that we would have been fully jemmed up on this law, seeing how it is (apparently) for our safety. Yet neither I, nor any of my colleagues know anything about it. I wasn't actually aware that I was in so much personal danger that this jaw-droppingly draconian law was needed. Am grateful for those in the blogosphere bringing it to my attention because I would have know sod-all about it otherwise.

Anonymous said...

I have forwarded a link to this article to my MP. I seem to be doing that more and more frequently these days, as this country descends into an abyss. Unfortunately, I think I am now being ignored since I don't receive too many replies. That said, I think writing to your MP is one of the few peaceful things that are still left to us to do.

Guthrum said...

Christ Almighty found out this morning about Southwestone- the south west's own lttle corrupt ACPO

Full lowdown is on the swLibertarian.blogspot

Anonymous said...

Erm, actually ACPO cannot approve speed cameras. That right belongs to parliament via Statutory Instrument alone, and since 1992 no speed measuring device has been approved for use.

See also the Robbie The Pict defence...

Dick Puddlecote said...

More pics from the NUJ photographers' protest here

Harry J said...

DK, things may even be much worse than you think. Can I suggest you watch the following speech recorded at the recent 'Lawful Rebellion' conference in Stoke, organised by the 'British Constitution Group. I'm sure you'll find it fascinating.

Albert Burgess' speech at the same conference is also very good. He speaks about how, in his opinion, our entry into the EU was both treasonous and seditious. He's also doing something about it.

Finally there's Brian Gerrish's contribution on 'Common Purpose'. Again, very good.

Anonymous said...

Article by Jenni Murry in Sunday Times. I'm so numb I can find nothing to say. Despair is all I feel.

Old Holborn said...

Dick Puddlecote

Many thanks for the photos

Good, innit.

Anonymous said...

"The Home Office added that anyone accused under the act could defend themselves by proving they had "a reasonable excuse" for taking the picture."

I shouldn't have to provide a reasonable excuse for what I am doing. Mind your own business. What happened to "innocent until proved guilty"?

The onus is on the prosecution to establish "beyond reasonable doubt" (or the modern phrase which is equivalent) that an offense has taken place and that there was a reasonable suspicion "... that it was intended to be used to provide practical assistance to terrorists." The requirement on the CPS is that there is greater than a 50-50 chance of a successful prosecution and it was in the public interest.

If I was arrested, held in a dirty station cell and my property seized or damaged by the police without any reasonable chance of success in a subsequent prosecution then this surely must come close to false imprisonment and abuse of police powers.

Old Holborn said...

A great day

Giolla said...

A few more pics by a friend here

Gareth said...

DK said: 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 is what did for the bankers. The house price bubble has kept this country ticking over financially and emotionally. Why have bankers moved in and out of Government so easily? Why did bankers forget or ignore the obvious asset bubble that was being inflated?

Some of the corporatism isn't by choice either.

The Money Laundering Regulations make people in the financials sector the eyes and ears of the State. Whether they want to be or not. The Police want private CCTV systems to come under their control. The Tax Return system makes accountants and the self-employed do ever more of the Revenue's job for them.(And they still cock it up) The food industry has repeatedly been threatened with legislation if it doesn't abide by 'voluntary' guidelines on food ingredients.

Time and again the State is approaching a sector of the economy and saying 'That's a nice business you've got there. It'd be a shame if something happened to it.'

Anonymous said...

Freedom Vid
Albert Burgess
Brian Gerrish

US descent into Martial Law.
Forget the BBC Listen in to Radio Truth Radio Here

Anonymous said...

Obamica (formerly known as U.S.A)
has a mission- to make everybody
everywhere an American. That way,
no worries about breaking international law and treaties.
Never again will parking tickets
not catch who the IRS, DHS, DoJ,
AT&T, FBI, KFC misses. All your money.

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