A scheme which gives “policing” powers to civilians in England and Wales has been described as “half-baked” by the Police Federation.
I object to the use of the word “civilian” – if you are non-military you are a civilian, so the police are civilian just like the rest of us. Remember the seventh Principle of Policing:
To maintain at all times a relationship with the public that gives reality to the historic tradition that the police are the public and that the public are the police, the police being only members of the public who are paid to give full time attention to duties which are incumbent on every citizen in the interests of community welfare and existence.
Back to the BBC:
More than 1,400 people can hand out fines for littering, seize alcohol from underage drinkers and demand names and addresses of those who are anti-social.
Mr Smyth said the public did not understand why “someone with a small badge” was “telling them what to do”.
“I think it’s going to lead to confrontation,” he told BBC Radio 4′s The World at One.
“Are we really saying now that we’re going to put people out there with little or no training,” he asked.
Referring to the figures, he said 255 people “have the power to stop me while I’m driving my car when a plain-clothed police officer can’t do that”.
“That seems ludicrous to me,” Mr Smyth added. …
Of course, the Government’s solution would be to give the police officer that power as well.
Despite lacking formal police training, hundreds of civilians have been made part of the “extended police family” by the Home Office under little-known legislation [Part 4 Chapter 1 Police Reform Act 2002].
They have not been asked to wear any special uniforms to identify themselves, but must wear only a badge that can be as small as 73mm x 80mm.
The disclosure that hundreds of civilians have been given enforcement powers drew accusations that the Government is encouraging the spread of unaccountable policing.
The Home Office revealed yesterday that more than 1,600 non-police officers have been given enforcement powers under its so-called Community Safety Accreditation Schemes.
The schemes, introduced in 2002 legislation, give chief constables the power to serve penalty notices for activities including disorder, truancy, cycling on pavements, littering and dog fouling. They can also be used for seizing alcohol from under-age drinkers and to demand people’s names and addresses.
The Home Office has carried out an audit of police use of the powers which showed that 23 police forces have Community Safety Accreditation Schemes in place.
A total of 1,406 staff from 95 “approved organizations” including local councils and private companies have been given enforcement powers.
Another 255 people have been given powers as Vehicle Operator Services Agency Inspectors, who are issued with the single power to stop vehicles for the purpose of testing.
In 2006, there were only 950 accredited workers for 71 organisations. …
In the Queen’s speech this autumn Gordon Brown’s government will announce a scheme to institute a database of every telephone call, email, and act of online usage by every resident of the UK. It will propose that this information will be gathered, stored, and “made accessible” to the security and law enforcement agencies, local councils, and “other public bodies”.
This fact should be in equal parts incredible and nauseating. It is certainly enraging and despicable. Not even George Orwell in his most febrile moments could have envisaged a world in which every citizen could be so thoroughly monitored every moment of the day, spied upon, eavesdropped, watched, tracked, followed by CCTV cameras, recorded and scrutinised. Our words and web searches, our messages and intimacies, are to be stored and made available to the police, the spooks, the local council – the local council! – and “other public bodies”. …
They say they are putting us all under suspicion for our own good. They wish to protect us against terrorists and criminals, and to make bureaucracy more efficient. The efficiency of bureaucracy has one of its finest moments in the neat and sorted piles of false teeth, hair and spectacles at the gas chamber doors. …
Well: the first duty of our politicians should be to protect our liberties, and to encourage us to see that liberty carries risks, which we should be trusted to understand and accept so that we can make our own lives our own way. But no: these politicians – Brown and Labour, once the party of the people – are going to keep us safe by not keeping our liberties safe; they are going to keep us safe by making us unfree. Yet the putative benefit of protecting us from terrorism and crime is unattainable. They themselves say ‘there is no 100% guarantee of safety’: but they are going to spy on us all anyway!
The UK is an “endemic surveillance society“.
Where are we going with this?
Where do we want to end up?