Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Just how far removed from this have we become?

Britain used to take pride in the fact that our police officers were servants of the public. These days they have begun to look and behave increasingly like a paramilitary force, with flak jackets and headcams.

It's not just the look of our Police that has changed beyond recognition. Bit by bit the role and purpose of our police has been changing, too.

Every time an atrocity happens the pressure is on to find out who was to 'blame' (apart , that is from the guilty party themselves ); so that for instance the Police took nearly as much criticism for the Soham murders as the murderer himself.

Instead of tackling the root cause - liberal sentencing regimes that mean violent offenders who would once have gone to jail for ever are walking the streets- we have blamed the Police.

This has led to a much greater use of intelligence and observation; and a massive increase in the level and detail of information held by Police and other authorities and the increasing tendency to use 'profiling' techniques to identify people with the potential to commit offences such as sex crimes and violence, as well as terrorism.

So bit by bit we have moved from a situation where the Police have a duty to serve, assume we are innocent unless proven guilty, and act as a deterrent to crime by their presence on the street and more and more to a situation where the Police are only there when a problem has already occurred, have a duty to prevent crime using all available means, and will frequently assume we are guilty unless we can prove otherwise.

A whole range of crimes are now covered by legislation that has shifted the onus of proof from prosecutor to defendant - from money laundering to drink-driving the assumption has become that if you become a suspect, you are guilty unless you can prove your innocence.

And now the Home Secretary wants to derogate from Human Rights legislation and re-introduce stop-and-search laws that would be seen as unacceptable in several totalitarian countries including Iran and China.

For those of us just old enough to remember our police as a reassuring, friendly presence this is an unacceptable development. I want to live in a free country where I can walk the streets without fear of being mugged - but not in fear of being harassed by Police demanding to know my business either.

The courtroom is the place where justice should be done; not the streets.

3 comments:

Anonymous said...

A very respectable (quite wealthy) person I know was quite literally 'raided at dawn' recently and held in custody for nine hours by detectives investigating, they said, 'money laundering'.

Eventually the police admitted it was a false lead they had followed, in fact the 'fraudulent' transaction their squad had picked up on was the ligitimate sale of an antiquity and was not in any way connected with the investigation they were conducting.

He co-operated fully and as soon as he was able could prove his innocence in a few minutes.

He is badly shaken by not only the disclosure that his bank account was being spied on but the 'sweeney' tactics; the rudeness, bullying and intimidating interviewing technique and the refusal to let him speak to anyone including any legal advice for nearly eight hours.

He has never had so much as a parking ticket and is in many ways a pillar in the community who has always previously supported the Police.

Although he was since had a full apology from the Chief Constable for the heavy handed techniques his officers employed he still wonders how the Police knew that a cash payment had gone into his account?

David said...

Having served in the military I agree with you Marcus. This country has an Army and a police force. It is a sad day when the police believe they need more and more Paramilitary style powers to protect the public from, um, themselves...! The facts are that we are eroding our freedoms through ignorance and fear. he Irish problem was a genuine terorist threat for years, but somehow we managed to cope.

The reality is if we had proper border controls and proper expulsion powers we could repatriate undesirable characters who inflame hate amongst our ethnic MINORITIES (Capitals are deliberate.

Instead we respect and protect their human rights whilst we go about eroding our won. It's daft.

Anonymous said...

David

Totally right, the people whom the Police should be respecting are not being respected whereas those who wish us harm are being given all kinds of 'rights' which they don't deserve.