Tuesday, 14 July 2009

Quis Custodiet Ipsos Custodes

Who watches the watchmen?

Ambush Predator appears to be quite cross. She has reason to be, with police community support officers, aka plastic policemen, not even real police, just walking into people’s homes, uninvited.


A plastic policemen, PCSO Steve.

This is quite a shocking liberty, taken simply because a door or window is open. As Ambush Predator points out, residents of Haringey are able to leave doors open in complete security, according to police. I have lived in many places where I would leave the door unlocked if I went out briefly. If they shut the door i might be locked out. I have certainly always left doors and windows wide open if that made the house cooler or if it was convenient when I was at home. That is not an invitation for any non-feline to just walk in (I expect cats to do so).

It is just another way that the police, instead of doing the job we want them to take it upon themselves to interfere in people’s lives, investigating a harmless joke, or accusing people of thought crime, even fictional crimes. We do not live in a police state, and I know this is shouted too often, but it does seem that the government and police sometimes behave as if we were.

In the last few years the police have demanded and so often been given new powers and new roles, or authoritarian politicians have demanded that the police address a problem that is not a justified police matter. Often this is brought through parliament without due scrutiny, and when the law is not tightly enough drafted police powers are abused. The Association of Chief Police Officers often formulates police policy and interference, yet it is not even a government organisation, but a company limited by guarantee, accountable to its guarantors.

In the USA abuse of police power has gone even further, resulting in unjustified violent raids, killing of pet dogs for no reason, police corruption and even the death of innocent civilians and of police officers.

Police and local authorities have encouraged a vast increase of surveillance they aim at us. We must return the favour, and use surveillance at every opportunity to ensure that the police are held accountable.

Which is why this is so worrying an attitude from police:

Hat tip to Prats in Power for that one, but it is not an unknown or even especially unusual for police to try to stop photography, especially photographing them about there business. This is likely to get worse, since the passage of the Counter-Terrorism Act 2008 which makes it an offense to gather information about a police officer “..of a kind likely to be useful to a person committing or preparing an act of terrorism”. Such information could include a photograph.

Do not allow the police to tell you what you can and cannot photograph or film. You are allowed to film or photograph anything as long as you are on your own or public property, with a few exceptions from official secrets acts. You are certainly allowed to photograph police carrying out their normal duties.

So who watches the watchmen? We do. We must continue to do so, lest wandering in through an open door gives way to violent entry at four in the morning.

For the record I favour a strong, well-equipped and well-trained police force. Libertarianism is not anarchy, the rule of law is the first requirement for freedom. The rule of law however must extend both ways.

Update: edited to add comments on ACPO.

Update: A classic example of police abuse of a photographer and the need to photograph or film police actions in one story!

Update: Face it, examples are not difficult to find, of people photographing or filming police abuse, and the police compounding the abuse to try to prevent the evidence being collected. Thy even try to stop people photographing thugs.

Stumble Upon Toolbar


Shibby said...

Good post, I'm sick of cops thinking they make the law.

Not a sheep said...

You might find this and this about Met Police "guidance" re photographers of interest. The guidance is here.

North Northwester said...

Thanks for your comment over at my place, and I'm glad you've drawn my attention to this post.

I think that a number of things have coincided to create this terrible situation - not least of which is the long-term and deliberate degredation of our education system for all - and this effects some if not many police recruits.
Children who are not taught correct grammar are not truly taught to examine what they mean by checking what they say or write, and so they make all kinds of logical and categorical mistakes, such as not recognizing who and what they serve, nor where their power comes from, nor who is a real threat to whom.

Liberal magistrates, law-makers and court officials and witnesses have built and stand by the Gramscian victim culture in which the wilful actions of criminals are always perceived as societal compulsions, and so the police operate in a world where clear differences between crime and innocence have been blurred and as often as not have changed places.

The fascist statism of New Labour and its cosy relationship with corporate empire-builders such as ACPO has led to the political class extending its crazy world view into law enforcement at the very top, and so is it surprising that ordinary coppers get cause and effect mixed up?

'Rights' have colonised and infected our political thinking as never before, and everyone gets some, willy-nilly, and so why shouldn't the scrotes have full police protection and defensive home-owners be 'vigilantes' worthy of surveillance and harassment? Give this government's attitude to any rivals for power any idea of citizens upholding the law themselves or using it to protect their own without recourse to the bountiful politicians at the top is seen as near-treason by New Labour, and the police recognise this and have acted accordingly.

Oh, and zero tolerance must be kept out at all costs because:it's American; it works better than anything police 'services' have tried lately, and it involves lots of petty and annoying police work - detection, arrests, prosecution, etc., and since there aren't enough jail places, lots of it's futile anyway.
No wonder Plod finds it easier to feel our collars over dangerous photography rather than face the wrath of ninety-something pro-criminal busybodies.

Doubting Richard said...

Interesting point on the grammar. I was thinking exactly the same thing yesterday when reading about Sonia Sotomayor's confirnmation hearings for the US Supreme Court. It appears to me that some of her apparent errors in judgement relate to her misunderstanding, possibly of the language. It struck me that poor education in grammer means that laws eventually become essentially meaningless. that is especially true when, as in the last few years, they are passed by people with poor education.

Of course at the opposite end of the scale from appelate court is the interpretter of law 'on the ground', police who are supposed to know the basics of the law. I remember the effort my brother went to to learn that when he joined the police (and he has a good education, to university level English and Philosophy, so he does not struggle with logic). It seems that the police in question haven't even learned the basics, as the law applies diretly to their actions.

As you say the rot goes to the top, and policy (often from the unaccountable ACPO) is more important than common law. With 3500 new crimes in 12 years common law has become less important than statute law. That is a complete reversal of the case within my memory (and I am only 36!). Police know that policy is most important to their command, and to their own advancement, so they follow that not the law.

You make an interesting point about the "near treason" of citizens defending ourselves. Ironically it was because of concerns of treason and revolution that our strict gun-control laws were innacted, to restrict our ability to defend ourselves. But as you say this government believes that it must do everything, and to defy that is treacherous.

My camera came back from repair yesterday. Unfortunately I couldn't find any police to snap; limited parking time. However it will be so used.

Doubting Richard said...

Cheers for that, Not a Sheep.

Post a Comment