Who watches the watchmen?
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.