"While dictators rage and statesmen talk, all Europe dances — to The Lambeth Walk."

Tuesday, 17 February 2009

Move Along, Nothing to See Here

With skills like these on display publicly, is it any wonder the police wish to avoid being photographed?

A polite reminder: as of Monday, 16th February 2009, it is now illegal to photograph the police under the Terrorism Act.

Apparently, you might be pretending to photograph them in order to plan a terrorist attack on various British landmarks.

The problem with this development is two-fold, in my opinion; firstly, it creates yet another law when existing legislation could have been used at the discretion of officers. In addition, they seem to find it increasingly hard to uphold laws that already exist.

That leads neatly into the second problem; this is yet another little chink in our liberty, another act which separates the police from ordinary people. At an alarming rate they're moving away from the 'Peel Ideal' of uniformed citizens enforcing the law by working within the law, and becoming alien, barking stormtroopers with their own laws and special protections; this means they are part of the political class, not ordinary citizens, and it changes the way they view the world and the public they are supposed to serve.

I think the recent pro-Hamas and pro-Tibet rallies and the very different ways they were policed prove this; the police are on an inexorable march to following the whims of the government, and not simply enforcing the law equally for all people and in all circumstances, regardless of the opinions of themselves or their bosses.

Many British people who despair at rising crime wish the police could be tougher; the government preys on these fears to increase its own power. After all, if the government were as concerned about terrorism as it pretends it would insist that our borders were protected and existing laws enforced; but no.

Laws such as this are a gimmick designed to reassure people the government is acting in their interests; in reality it is doing no such thing. This is simply a cynical attempt to distort reality (which the government seems to believe is its main task); it doesn't matter what powers the police have, if they're not using them in the right ways against the right people then nothing will change.

There has already been at least one incident I'm aware of in which police officers have attempted to cite the ubiquitous Terrorism Act against a member of the public who photographed them parking illegally; now I fear any unscrupulous officers will have all the tools they need to intimidate members of the public further.

To mark this passing of another piece of Britain I give you, what else, but a photographic tribute of the best (and worst) of one of the world's (formerly) best police forces.


Anonymous said...

The unarmed British police have always been a bit of mystery to me. It seems that with this most recent move, they are becoming more simply goons for the government, not a very nice idea at all.

We will probably soon have something similar here in the US. -- Dr.D

The Venerable 1st Earl of Cromer said...

Hello Dr. D,

I think the only other places on earth where the police are routinely unarmed are Norway and New Zealand, so I suppose Britain is a bit of an anachronism.

I fear they are becoming goons for the government though; and the EU is planning a 'EUROGENDFOR' force of Gendarmeries to put down protests and 'civil unrest'.

The very name conjures up images of black-clad, armed men attacking a crowd, I find, but maybe that's just me?