65 comments on “So is this the birth of a police state or not?

  1. I think it’s very close, most of the required mechanics are in place. All it needs now is a major event that would push the fearful mediocrities that currently reside in Westminster and various council halls to protect themselves from the public in total.

    A Reichstag fire perhaps?

  2. Well, this is why I’ve been sorta kinda arguing for a new mental model of what we are becoming, or are, or are enmeshed in, or whatever. The term “police state” doesn’t really apply here, since we imagine brutal foreign fascist type things, and this isn’t really that.

    A better model is the Islamic mutaween, the religious police. But even they are, in fact, following a rigid legal system laid down in the Sharia. Which seems tyrannical or absurd (to us) perhaps, but is systematised.

    This is neither a polticial project in the Statzpolizei sense, or religious policing, but has similarities to both, characterised by the absence of a formal ruleset. It is a tyranny of whatever a “right thinking person”- which in practical terms means, the “centrist”, metropolitan ruling elite- thinks is “nice”.

    So, it is most best characterised as a return to the Victorian moral system, but far more rigorously imposed at the legal level due to (a) a vastly expanded set of principles and (b) much more massive bureaucracy, police, etc and modern technology. Under this system, the police become primarily “social wardens” rather than law enforcers or thief catchers.

    So, I’m not sure it’s a “police state”. People in police states often have a lot of personal freedom, so long as they don’t print a pamphlet that says down with el presidente. It’s not even quite a moral tyranny like Sharia. It’s more of a “Niceness State”. The primary crime you can commit is not being nice, in the opinion of nice people.

    Which I think is really more frightening than a “police state”, since the enemy is so hard to grapple with. Perhaps Orwell’s term, “slimy fascism”, might be appropriate.

  3. I would like to blame the politicians – so I will.

    But let’s not forget that huge sections of the population welcome these restrictions, and could easily be induced to vote for them. Authoritarians of left and Right, as well as the terminally terrified, have always wanted someone else to make their decisions for them. It saves them the trouble of actually thinking.

    Its the basic problem with democracy – the tyranny of the majority – which makes it the least worst system of government, rather than the best.

  4. If there ever was don’t that the scum of Blulabour are exactly the same as the scum of Nulabour, this finishes it for good. Pass it on to everyone you can. If enough people pressure these pukes it might yet be stopped.

  5. It’s a charter for petty Hitlers to whimsically persecute anyone they want on an almost completely arbitrary basis.

    As almost everyone will be annoying to someone almost constantly, it is the Left’s dream: everyone is now a criminal so who is persecuted becomes a political decision, not a legal one.

    The fact that a nominally Conservative government is introducing this is a mild irony but not that shocking.

  6. I can’t imagine the Graunies will like this at all. It’s just a pick’n’mix of ways to get UKUncut out of wherever they’ve put their pop-up food bank this week.

    The problem is, they won’t see the connection between this and all the illiberal bullshit that they *do* like.

  7. The interesting thing about this, apart from the fact that anyone who supports it is clearly a nasty little authoritarian, is that the police, if you ask them, will tell you they are so overstretched they can barely enforce the law as it is. The only reason to report the majority of petty crime is to get a crime number for the insurance.

    What worries me more is the possibility – and I don’t think it’s all that far fetched – that demoralised coppers (or more likely CSOs) will start doing this sort of stuff instead of normal policing, because at the end of the day you’re less likely to get seriously harmed by a nice middle class person shouting or a couple of drunk kids than by a bampot with a knife.

  8. Ian,

    I thought they were set up to provide a cheap solution to the ‘bobby-on-the-beat’ problem?

  9. “…the police, if you ask them, will tell you they are so overstretched they can barely enforce the law as it is.”
    Yeah. If you believe them. Your police are overstretched because they want to be overstretched. When do you ever see a copper on their own? Takes two to stroll through the shopping precinct of a quiet little stockbroker belt town on a wet Tuesday morning. London they go about in mobs.
    This is just the sort of legislation’ll suit them. Plenty of opportunity to lay the heavy hand of authority on the basically law-abiding for the minorest of infringements. More time they can waste doing that, less they’re obliged to tackle real crime.
    Sorry, but your police have long been just another street gang.

  10. “I thought they were set up to provide a cheap solution to the ‘bobby-on-the-beat’ problem?”
    That’s just f***ing hilarious! Which ‘bobby on the beat’ problem would that be? Used to see them wandering around the streets of Tottenham on nice days. You’d get about eight,, holding hands in pairs. Vanished as soon as it got dark. I took the dogs for their late walk for twelve years & the only uniformed copper i ever saw on foot was a sergeant from the neighboring patch making a social call. That’s in one of the highest crime areas in London.

  11. What worries me more is the possibility – and I don’t think it’s all that far fetched – that demoralised coppers (or more likely CSOs) will start doing this sort of stuff instead of normal policing

    It’s not a possibility, it’s an actuality. In America they have specific police squads set up to harass people (and Ian’s comparison to the religious police is apt here). Check out this one, which must win a prize for “least self aware name”.

    http://theadvocate.com/news/police/6580728-123/gays-in-baton-rouge-arrested

    Commit a “crime against nature” and the SCAT squad will be on your tail!

  12. @BIS

    That’s just f***ing hilarious! Which ‘bobby on the beat’ problem would that be?

    the one where every time the public are asked what they want from the police, they seem to reply “more bobbies on the beat.” Or I assume they do, because that is the promise wheeled out by every politico of every hue.

    Ergo CSOs, cos they look a bit like coppers if you squint and there’s decent cloud cover. As for the none-after-dark thing, a) the people who say that they want more bs-o-t-b aren’t out after dark and b) nor do they live in high crime areas.like Tottenham.

    as for your other point:

    Yes, in london you can’t move for rozzers and even the Transport mob have taken to carrying assault rifles.* But is that the case everywhere else? I heard from one of the rozzers in my aged parent’s town (of c.50,000 people, and double that on a friday night) that they only had three squad cars operational.

    *and that worries me. Having been forced through cadet training I know a bit – not much, I’m not a fetishist – about the different uses for guns, and it seems to me that assault rifles are not what you should be handing out to people workign in high-population, close quarter environments like railway stations and trains.

  13. Read section 1 of the bill. It is staggering.

    To get what is essentially an ASBO, you don’t actually have to annoy anyone. It is enough that you are threatening to do something that might annoy someone. And as far as I can see there is no limit on what you can be prohibited from doing, or ordered to do.

    http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/bills/cbill/2013-2014/0007/cbill_2013-20140007_en_2.htm#pt1-pb1-l1g1

    You know, I am rather glad that we are subject to the ECtHR.

  14. I suggest that we call it a “Ferris State”, in reference to this passage from “Atlas Shrugged”:

    “Did you really think that we want those laws to be observed?” said Dr. Ferris. “We want them broken. You’d better get it straight that it’s not a bunch of boy scouts you’re up against – then you’ll know that this is not the age for beautiful gestures. We’re after power and we mean it. You fellows were pikers, but we know the real trick, and you’d better get wise to it. There’s no way to rule innocent men. The only power any government has is the power to crack down on criminals. Well, when there aren’t enough criminals, one makes them. One declares so many things to be a crime that it becomes impossible for men to live without breaking laws. Who wants a nation of law-abiding citizens? What’s there in that for anyone? But just pass the kind of laws that can neither be observed nor enforced nor objectively interpreted – and you create a nation of law-breakers – and then you cash in on guilt.”

  15. Re Sam and Ian B’s discussion, the problem with “bobbies on the beat” is that there is no evidence that they do anything to stop crime.

    For once, we should do it the American way: give ’em nice cars, and a crap canteen. The donut eating policeman of cliche may be fat, but at least he’s not sitting in the station.

  16. The whole ‘police state’ thing is someone’s warped fantasy. It involves a ludicrous twisting of a reasonably well-drafted bill which might, at most, require slight amendment.

    The main thing that’s been done in that blog post is the extraction of unrelated quotes from the bill which have been strung together to give an entirely false picture. To take a definition used for one offence in one part of the bill and apply it to an entirely different offence in another part of the bill is, well, basically just flat-out lying.

    http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/bills/cbill/2013-2014/0007/cbill_2013-20140007_en_4.htm – section 33.

    The actual applicable definition is that multiple members of the public are ‘harassed, alarmed or distressed’, not merely ‘annoyed’.

    There is an explicit exclusion from this police power (34.4) of those engaged in, for example, lawful political protest:

    “A constable may not give a direction to a person under section 33 if the person is one of a group of persons who are— […] taking part in a public procession of the kind mentioned in subsection (1) of section 11 of the Public Order Act 1986 in respect of which—

    (i) written notice has been given in accordance with that section, or (ii) written notice is not required to be given as provided by subsections (1) and (2) of that section.”

  17. It’s ironic that one might object to this and still defend the other aspect of a common-law system, being that whatever twelve of your peers find bad is bad. I have a lot of sympathy for the demand for ASBOs and such, because it’s hard to write laws against people being obnoxious fuckwads. The examples given in your link are like a lot of the daily mail “bin police”-style horror stories – told from one point of view with no context.

    That context might be that the guy prosecuted for overfilling his bin is actually the neighbour from hell but the bin thing is the only thing they can objectively get him on. I’ve no idea if this is true in all or indeed any cases, but I’ve heard similar from coppers.

    The solution is easy – if you object to a fine or rule applied to you by one of these little Hitlers you can insist they persuade the courts that their action was justified. What puts people off doing that is that once you get a court involved it often turns from an administrative penalty to something that gets you a rap sheet, if you lose. Perhaps that should be changed, such that contested penalties don’t go up an entire order of magnitude.

  18. Re Sam and Ian B’s discussion, the problem with “bobbies on the beat” is that there is no evidence that they do anything to stop crime.

    Oh, I wasn’t saying they were – I think we all know that. But it is what people always say they want.

    Hence why – as BIS points out – you will see them ambling through the shopping district of stockbrokerton, where the voters and the people who complain to their MP live, but not after dark in high-crime areas (where the people are less likely to vote, don’t complain to their MP, and the coppers wouldn’t do much good anyway.)

  19. Luke>

    That reading of the first section is nonsense. Bear in mind first of all that this all has to be ordered by a judge who “considers it just and convenient to grant the injunction for the purpose of preventing the respondent from engaging in anti-social behaviour.”

    You can’t only read one of two conditions that must be met and then complain that a restriction you ignored isn’t there.

    What some jurisprudent genius in the drafting department has snuck in there is actually good old-fashioned common-law weighing-up of the just rights of one man to be annoying against those of his neighbour not to be annoyed.

  20. Dave, you have greater faith in the infallibility and wisdom of judges than I do. My immediate assumption is (a) you are a judge or (b) have never encountered one.

    And you have greater faith than I do that no police officer anywhere would ever use this legislation to “cause nuisance or annoyance” to some teenager he didn’t like.

    You can already get an ASBO for something that causes “harassment, alarm or distress.” So the logical inference is Parliament intends the trigger level to be low. Apart from saying “likely to cause mild but resigned irritation”, they’ve put it as low as they can.

  21. Last word before I do some work. The upside is that Piers Morgan could be ASBO’d on arrival at Heathrow, on the basis there’s a certainty, let alone a probability, that he would cause annoyance.

  22. Dave,

    the problem with all this is what I (and probably I alone) call “vague precision”. People of the legalist mindset that has overtaken us (largely sourced from that hellhole of legalism, America) like to write these precise sounding sentences that are not precise at all.

    “The actual applicable definition is that multiple members of the public are ‘harassed, alarmed or distressed’, not merely ‘annoyed’.”

    You haven’t, I mean they haven’t, defined anything. “Alarmed”? What does that mean? I was in younger days alarmed by Daleks. The basic problem here is that it is appealing to an internal, and intrinsically unknowable state of mind. If I say I am “distressed”, how will you know whether I am? Take my pulse? You can’t know that.

    So the whole idea that this is any kind of objective legal test is cobblers. What it will come down to is whether the police or judge feel sympathy for your complaint. Which is in one sense entirely arbitrary and in reality going to go back to what I said above about “niceness”.

  23. David Moore said: “A Reichstag fire perhaps?”

    Luke said: “You know, I am rather glad that we are subject to the ECtHR.”

    If our betters had their way we would not be. We are living through a slow burning Reichstag fire of media friendly blood pressure raising stories about wrong ‘uns we can’t expel, imprison or whatever because of yuman rights.

    On the subject of ASBOs and the like these often relate to acts of harassment that the Police, CPS and courts are content to try and ignore or minimise. We have plenty of harassment legislation but ASBOs are the easier route to police clear up results, massaging crime figures and keeping the CPS and courts looking busy with slapping wrists.

  24. Dave: “To take a definition used for one offence in one part of the bill and apply it to an entirely different offence in another part of the bill is, well, basically just flat-out lying.”

    Can you explain, from the linked piece, where this occurs? I see three causes of complaint being alleged in the article, clearly demarcated into IPNAs, PSPOs and Dispersal Orders. The definitions appear to be being taken from the relevant section of the legislation; though you may be right that the full definitions may not be being taken.

    I’m also concerned about s. 35 of the Bill, which allows for officers to demand the surrender of items likely to be used in behaviours which harass, alarm or distress the public. Of course the section can be used to confiscate knives and other offensive articles — that is its ostensible purpose — but here is another situation which could easily happen, and quite blatantly.

    Someone whips out their phone to record police officers in uniform kicking seven shades out of a newspaper seller who was just walking past a protest. Another copper approaches and demands the phone, citing s. 35 and saying that it is likely to be used to alarm members of the public. (Posting the video to Youtube would be likely to cause alarm to the public. Not to mention the uniformed police involved.) The phone is impounded, and as happens occasionally with recording devices in police custody, it mysteriously contracts amnesia.

    How can our cameraman legally retain his camera in order to ensure that the offending officers’ behaviour is exposed?

  25. Well, that would appear to suggest that an attractive young lady wearing a “bollocks to Blair” tee-shirt could be obligated to surrender it to an officer. Hmmm.

    This appears to me to just be carte blanche for anything Plod feels like interfering with.

  26. Luke>

    “Dave, you have greater faith in the infallibility and wisdom of judges than I do. ”

    Not so much that, although actually the judiciary on the whole isn’t too bad in this country. More that I have a great deal of faith in the ability of judges to interpret legislation in a way which will leave power in the hands of judges rather than handing it to the police.

    As for the police, this hardly adds to their power to harass. They might apply for an order, but the judge still has to grant it.

    “You can already get an ASBO for something that causes “harassment, alarm or distress.” So the logical inference is Parliament intends the trigger level to be low. ”

    The ASBO legislation says nothing about proportionality or fairness. This bill does. It has widened the scope, but raised the bar as well.

    Ian>

    That you are not aware of the effective definitions of those terms within English law does not mean there are no such definitions. One might say it’s something of a failing of the English legal system that it’s necessary to look these things up in a law-book, but necessary it is. The words have been used in court before, and derive their meanings from such precedents.

    Phillip>

    “Can you explain, from the linked piece, where this occurs?”

    The opening paragraph.

    As far as S35 goes, I’m not sure that it’s been correctly drafted – as far as I’m aware this bill is still subject to amendment. The intention was surely to apply the same tests as S33, and that confiscation is not subject to a test of necessity or reasonableness seems like an oversight.

    I don’t think ‘alarm’ means what you take it to mean, in that context. Again, it’s not just a colloquial term, but a word with a specific legal meaning. Here it means the kind of alarm someone experiences if you set off a fire-cracker under them or some such.

    That aside, the police already have the power to arrest you on a dubious basis, take you into custody, take your possessions away, delete whatever recording you’re worried about, and then release you without charge. There’s really nothing you can do to stop them if they decide to do that, except make a complaint after the fact and/or sue the force. That despite that the police actually do this rather rarely indicates to me that most police misbehaviour is the result of policemen who don’t know the law rather than deliberate misbehaviour.

  27. Dave,
    “….although actually the judiciary on the whole isn’t too bad in this country. ”

    Agreed, but so what? Why give them an idiotic bit of legislation to work with that leaves such a vast amount to their discretion that they are bound to make a lot of ludicrous decisions?

    “The words have been used in court before, and derive their meanings from such precedents.”

    Really? I doubt it, because until now on-one has needed to define “annoying”, because there’s been no law or sanction against being annoying. Unless and until there is a precedent, then “annoying” and “annoyance” are just ordinary English words, that should be given their ordinary English meaning.

  28. Luke>

    Nuisance/annoyance is generally a civil matter. There’s a massive body of case-law dealing with it. More pertinently, though, the terms have been used previously in other legislation. How about the Offences Against the Person Act 1861 for starters?

    “Whosoever shall unlawfully and maliciously administer to or cause to be administered to or taken by any other person any poison or other destructive or noxious thing, with intent to injure, aggrieve, or annoy such person…”

    With regard to your comments on allowing judges to use their discretion, you appear entirely ignorant of both the principles underlying the common law, and the legal history of this country.

    I really wish those who cry wolf about the introduction of a police state in this country would learn the basics about the law and our legal system.

  29. Oh, and I forgot to add the second example I was going to give – ‘annoyance’ is used repeatedly in the ASBO act that this bill is intended to replace.

  30. In the past three decades there has been a growth in the variety of civil orders that impose obligations which could amount to significant restraints on freedom (breach of which leads to criminal penalty). It’s counter to the English legal tradition that freedom can only be constrained after a conviction at criminal trial or during proceedings, where the standard of proof (beyond reasonable doubt) is more onerous than at civil court (more likely than not). And the primary reason given is not to support ‘justice’ but simply to make it quicker and easier to prohibit and punish ‘undesirable behaviour’. Depending on the order and/or circumstances the subject of the order might not even be entitled to present an argument against it.

    What we have is behaviour that people don’t want to go to the trouble of making criminal or prosecuting in criminal court but want obligations that amount to criminal penalties.

  31. Dave,

    “Nuisance/annoyance is generally a civil matter. There’s a massive body of case-law dealing with it.”

    The well-known tort of nuisance means a lot more than being annoying. The leading case, Rylands v Fletcher, involved the failure of a damn that caused a reservoir to burst its banks. The result was a flood. That’s not very subjective, and involved property damage, not irritation and hurt feelings.

    I am unaware of the tort of annoyance, never having encountered it in twenty years.

    I earlier speculated that you might be a judge, given your faith in the judiciary. Now I really hope you’re not one.

  32. Dave, and another thing. You quote the 1861 Offences Against the Person Act. You don’t see any slight difference between (a) maliciously poisoning someone and (b) being a bit annoying in the way you leave your bins out?

    You don’t think that the drafters of the 1861 Act had in mind a bit more than irritation when they talked about the intent “to annoy” someone by maliciously poisoning them?

    Hint, you need to do a bit more than type “annoy” or words that you think are synonymous with it into a search engine.

  33. Luke>

    You said:

    “I doubt it, because until now on-one has needed to define “annoying”, because there’s been no law or sanction against being annoying.”

    I demonstrated that your suggestion was wholly fallacious, as you are now acknowledging implicitly whilst changing the subject to such ephemera as the meaning of ‘annoy’ in the 1861 act I mentioned. .

    UKL>

    It’s nice to have someone comment who actually has half a clue. However:

    “What we have is behaviour that people don’t want to go to the trouble of making criminal or prosecuting in criminal court but want obligations that amount to criminal penalties.”

    Common law again. Traditionally we’d have regarded that as a good thing. This bill definitely appears to be a step in the right direction compared to the ASBO nonsense, but there are some interesting implications. A judge can now (or rather, once again) order someone to do something simply because it is right, fair, and just.

    It’ll be interesting to see how far the resurgence of common law goes.

  34. I give up.

    If you can’t see that the tort of nuisance has nothing to do with being annoying, there is no chance whatsoever rhat you know anything about law.

    Please, please tell me you are not a judge and have no part in administering justice in this country or anywhere else. Please. I actually care about this. I would like to sleep tonight, so please tell me that you are not part of the British legal system, and that you will never decide any dispute in which I might be involved.

    And for God’s sake look up Common Law. Hint, it’s to do with precedent and case law. The lunatic idea that you are so keen on is not case law or precedent, but a statute.

    But don’t reply about that. Just confirm that you have no part in the administration of justice. Then I can sleep.

  35. I now sympathise with TW on people who know nothing about economics spouting off. My apologies if I have done so.

  36. Luke>

    I’m unclear what kind of idiocy leads you to dismiss the obvious here, but as I’ve explained to you already, the examples I gave directly refuted your entirely erroneous contention that ‘annoy’ has never been used in an English courtroom at any point in such a way as to set a precedent as to its meaning. That was the sole totality of their relevance. As I’ve also pointed out, one of the prior uses in legislation was the very legislation this bill is designed to replace.

  37. Dave,

    Sorry but your points are foolish crap. The very fact that you put your trust in a gang of beaks is bad enough but you seem wilfully blind to the fact that ASBO’s were created by the scum of ZaNuLab precisely to get around due process of law (ZaNu never gave a shit about people being harassed by yobs–that was only ever the excuse). ASBO’s have created numerous situations were people have gotten jail time (not mega amounts but three months is enough to fuck up your life nicely) for actions that aren’t even fucking crimes under UK law–like the woman who got 3 months because some old bag across the way complained because she often opened the door in her underwear.Under the law, the pork would had to have put her to trial in front of a jury of her peers and prove Indecent Exposure which, unless her front door opened onto thousands going by Piccadilly Circus, would have been highly unlikely to succeed. As it was, the beak agreed with the old bag, ASBO’d the woman to stop, she didn’t and got three months–not for a few brief seconds of semi-undress but for defying the arrogance of the beak. Unless you are a beak, which has been suggested, you seem to be a shill for tinpot tyranny by (often literally dirty) wig-wearing twats-the same slugs who have made the “Family” (semi-secret) courts in this country such a disgrace to any concept of justice.

    It has often been my speculation that ZaNu giving so much extra power to the wig gang was part of their plans to introduce corpus jurus–pissing EU Roman law–by the backdoor. Since the scum of Blulabour are just as much a crew of traitors , their continuing and strengthening such an oppressive policy should not surprise anyone. Heir to Bliar indeed.

  38. Pingback: 172 thoughts on “The Birth of a Police State: UK Police to be Granted Sweeping New Powers” |

  39. I don’t understand where Dave is coming from re the common law but I don’t feel I know enough about common law to say whether he’s talking nonsense or not. It feels wrong though.

    The fact is that ASBOs ‘criminalise’ non-criminal behaviour and the new orders or injunctions will be more widely drawn and based on an even lower standard of proof (“just and convenient”).than the civil standard and impose positive obligations (“you must do X”) as well as ASBO’s negative obligations (“you must not do Y”).

    So I’m rather inclined to agree with Mr Ecks, and he has provided a good example of how silly and unjust these orders can be.

    Arguably the awful examples are those issued to people with diagnosed mental health disorders – they shouldn’t be criminalised, they should be supported with some kind of ‘care plan’.

  40. My own view IANAL and all that is that as the citizenry we must be cynical, since we have experience of these types of new laws sprawling from their original claimed narrower intentions. The problem is often interpretation of what I called above vague precision.

    Off the top of my head, an example being the offence of possesion of an offensive weapon. There’s nothing wrong with this law, so long as it is used reasonably. If you’re caught on the way to your ex’s house with a hammer and an apparent intent to use it in a nasty way, it gives the police a useful power to apprehend you because the hammer is, indeed, in that context a weapon. The problem has been the modern reinterpetation as “anything that might be used as a weapon”, so it’s got to the point where people don’t even know they’re safe bringing some knives home froms John Lewis.

  41. The problem has been the modern reinterpetation as “anything that might be used as a weapon”, so it’s got to the point where people don’t even know they’re safe bringing some knives home froms John Lewis.

    No, that’s not the problem, the problem is people listening to rumour- and fear-mongers and being ignorant of what the law is. If you have a ‘reasonable excuse’ for carrying knives you are quite safe from the law. Of course it will make a difference if the police encounter you holding the John Lewis knives in your hands or carrying them in your pocket, as opposed to leaving them in their packaging in the John Lewis carrier bag.

    The fundamental problem with ASBOs and other civil orders is that behaviour which does not constitute something unlawful is effectively criminalised.

    And the more I think about Dave’s comment re common law I think he’s confused with civil law, which isn’t an English tradition.

  42. I’ve told this anecdote before, but here goes again. A friend of mine, Adam, is a maintenance engineer in the CIty. One day, some fresh faced Plod on a “knife sweep” stopped him. They searched his toolbox and found a Stanley knife. And attempted to get him to accept a caution.

    Now, he is middle aged, rather portly, was in uniform and, unbeknown to Plod, on private property- a car park adjoining the street. He said he was on private property, would not accept the caution, and if they wanted to proceed further would have to charge him with something. They went on their way abashed.

    How many others who are less collected sorts of persons would have fallen for this? it is clear that a knife in a toolbox in that situation is not a weapon. And yet Plod tried.

    How many otehrs have under similar circumstances accepted a caution?

    Worrying about this isn’t fearmongering and rumour. It is how things actually are.

  43. UKL>

    I’m unclear what you’re not clear on. Civil law means that everything has to be written down as you’re asking for. Common law means that you have your rights, I have mine, and where they conflict we can go before a judge and have him adjudicate.The latter is how we’ve traditionally done things in this country up until fairly recently, so I’m not bothered by the idea.

    Scriptonite>

    I’m baffled as to why you think what you said disagrees with me in some way.

  44. Dave,

    You accused Scriptonite of lying in his opening paragraph where he wrote:

    “The UK Government is about to pass legislation which will make any behaviour perceived to potentially ‘cause nuisance or annoyance’ a criminal offence. The Anti-Social Behaviour, Crime and Policing Bill also grants local authorities, police and even private security firms sweeping powers to bar citizens from assembling lawfully in public spaces. Those who refuse orders under the new rules will face arrest, fines and even prison time.”

    You said he took “a definition used for one offence in one part of the bill and apply it to an entirely different offence in another part of the bill”

    If you could precisely point out where he does this, then he would know why you think he’s a liar and we can return to your knowledge of law.

  45. If it is just Common Law, why is their a sodding Act going thro’ the Westminster toilet?.

    The body of CL has been built up over centuries and contains a good amount of common sense. This Act allows a jumped up gang of dirtwiggers to issue arbitrary decrees on any matter they like, jail those who don’t jump when frog is shouted at them and leaves people with no redress unless they have a fortune to waste on law dog fees. What a surprise this crap is coming along at the same time Blulabour are gutting legal aid.

  46. UKL-

    My friend was not “safe” at all. He had the gumption to know (or at least suspect) that he could tell Plod to fuck off. The primary reason being he was on private property. That isn’t safety.

  47. Dave,

    I’m unclear what you’re not clear on.

    Well, what on earth the proposed injunctions have to do with common law. All you’re doing is saying that they do, you’re not providing any examples or references.

    And yet again I’m inclined to agree with Mr Ecks, although I don’t know what a dirtwigger is.

  48. The phrase refers to my one experience on jury service(the beak dismissed us).

    On TV the Judges wear lovely snow-white toppers. The one I saw wore a brownish/sick-yellow effort that looked like it hadn’t been washed since Judge Jeffreys wore it at the Bloody Assizes–hence–“dirtwiggers”.

  49. an example being the offence of possesion of an offensive weapon. There’s nothing wrong with this law, so long as it is used reasonably. If you’re caught on the way to your ex’s house with a hammer and an apparent intent to use it in a nasty way, it gives the police a useful power to apprehend you because the hammer is, indeed, in that context a weapon.

    and here is the problem. This law was fine when the police were allowed an element of discretion. As in “well, you’re a clean, well-spoken chap claiming to be going to fix your friend’s shed, so you can go on your way, but you are a violent-looking ned with dodgy personal hygiene, so we might take you in for questioning”.

    It will doubtless come as no surprise that ‘discretion’ and ‘discrimination’ come ultimately from the same etymological root (discernere; to separate or set apart) and now that the latter is a bad thing, so is the former. In the mania for treating everyone equally, we have managed to arrive at treating everyone the same. This does also make it rather easier for a certain type of police, who would rather just follow orders than have to make a judgement.

    Of course the stupid thing is that criminals don’t really care about the law – it is practically in the job description – so they will carry knives and whatever else takes their fancy. Whereas if I want to take my knives over to my in-laws house because I’ve offered to cook supper, I’m taking a risk unless I wrap them in layers of clingfilm and a teatowel first to render them impossible to get at in a hurry.

    *and their knives are horrible; all, and I mean all, flimsy serrated jobs. Useless.

  50. This law was fine when the police were allowed an element of discretion.

    They still have discretion. They weren’t obliged to threaten Ian’s friend with a caution – they were being stupid / officious / trying to fill a quota whatever.

    Some of them will be crap, it’s inevitable, that’s life. If it happened more than rarely we should get upset about it. But ISTM there is an infinitesimal chance of being punished for carrying knives if you have a ‘reasonable excuse’ (and it makes sense to carefully pack them into a bag).

  51. Mr P>

    Ah, thanks, I missed that bit of context. I thought it was another comment in the then-current vein.

    Then again, my response still pretty much stands unchanged. What he said backs up my point about his mendacious wolf-crying, rather than challenging it, since he now agrees that it is not a definition of that which he attempted to portray it as.

    Mr Ecks>

    I think you’ve slightly misunderstood what I was saying. Elements of the legislation are in the common law tradition.

    “This Act allows a jumped up gang of dirtwiggers to issue arbitrary decrees on any matter they like, jail those who don’t jump when frog is shouted at them and leaves people with no redress unless they have a fortune to waste on law dog fees. ”

    Quite. Good, old-fashioned English justice as practised at the time when our legal system was the envy of the world…

    Incidentally, dirtwigging is because only a parvenu would have a clean new wig.

    UKL>

    Fair enough, that’s actually a question. I thought the connection was obvious, but apparently not.

    Various elements of the legislation are very much in the common law spirit. As I said, a judge weighing up the rights of one man to annoy against the rights of another not to be annoyed on the basis of what is just is what large parts of the English legal system were based on for centuries. Similarly, the concept you were complaining about of something becoming a crime when a judge says it is and charges someone is straight from common law.

    Shaw v DPP seems relevant:

    http://www.e-lawresources.co.uk/Shaw-v-DPP.php

    It’s an interesting situation, because despite that case we’ve generally gone with the dissenting opinion there over the last few decades, and given the power to create crimes to the government rather than the judiciary. Now Parliament is legislating to hand back that power in a specific area.

  52. Dave:

    “Then again, my response still pretty much stands unchanged.”

    So you’re saying that this was the lie:

    “The UK Government is about to pass legislation which will make any behaviour perceived to potentially ‘cause nuisance or annoyance’ a criminal offence. “

    And the reason it is a lie is because “caus[ing] nuisance or annoyance” will not be a criminal offence, but actually become the threshold to trigger an Injunction to Prevent Nuisance and Annoyance which has a sanction of up to two years imprisonment and an unlimited fine.

    Is that your position?

  53. A statement is not the same as an explanation.

    The more I read this Bill, the less I like it. If I’m in a Riot Act area dispersal zone then I can be told by a policeman to hop it and he only has to have reasonable grounds for suspicion. If I refuse, then I get chokey. So in effect, I can be criminalised on reasonable grounds rather than beyond reasonable doubt. I’m sure you’ll tell me disobeying a police officer is already illegal, and that they can boss me around on flimsy pretexts and we just have to trust them anyway. So let me pre-empt that by saying I don’t like that thought any better.

    “That aside, the police already have the power to arrest you on a dubious basis, take you into custody, take your possessions away, delete whatever recording you’re worried about, and then release you without charge.”

    But not lawfully: this is my point. If the police arrests me unlawfully, I can sue and am likely (supposing a well-argued case) to win. This is because we continue, mostly, to honour personal liberty.

    The Bill as drafted would allow the police lawfully to impound a camera on a dubious basis. I could not then sue over the confiscation because it was carried out on a lawful basis. The Bill grants to the police wide-ranging powers of temporary confiscation within dispersal zones and there is next to no challenge an individual can lodge because the test is so weak.

    From there on in, claims about recordings going missing, assuming the hypothetical leak-plugger is halfway competent, boil down to my word against that of possibly several upstanding officers of the law. A complaint or attempt to sue on that basis is not likely to get very far.

  54. Dave,

    Well, I agree with Reid’s dissent in that “However beneficial that might have been in days when Parliament met seldom or at least only at long intervals it surely is now the province of the legislature and not of the judiciary to create new criminal offences.”

    It seems self-evidently unjust for a jurisdiction (in modern times) to declare a new criminal offence and then punish the person for doing that.

    Incidentally, it would also seem to engage Article 7 of the European Convention on Human Rights.

  55. It might do us a world of good to go back to having a parliament that meets “seldom, or at least only at long intervals”.

  56. Ian, I’m inclined to agree.

    Just on that tangent, I recently encountered something about Robin Cook while I was looking into who actually writes the laws we get (the Parliament website is rubbish at explaining it). Basically, Government Bills are drafted by ‘bill teams’ from the Office of Parliamentary Counsel. Cook saw that the bill teams were a bottleneck in that they didn’t have enough manpower to draft the laws the Government wanted. It didn’t seem to occur to him that perhaps they were demanding too much law.

  57. UKL>

    The concept under a proper common law system is that when a judge creates a crime, he is actually only reflecting something ‘everyman’/’the man on the Clapham omnibus’ considers to be the case – that is, it’s something every reasonable person already knew was wrong – so arguably the rules against retrospective legislation don’t apply.

    Arguing that one out in court would be interesting.

    Mr P>

    I was complaining about the attempted conflation of the two into something like ‘the government has abolished the right of assembly for people merely being annoying to one person’.

  58. This motherfucker Dave knows his stuff, he’s far from an idiot. It’s too bad he’s on the wrong side of the grass. You defiantly got something to do with the administrating of Justice no two ways about it I can smell it through my iPad. Shout out Luke cuz I’m wid dat nigga all the way he got hella common sense and logic. FUCK THE POLICE and FUCK THE NWO we need more Freedom Fighters in the UK. I hope everyone on here is doing their part on getting people out of their mentally enslaved trance about what our nanny state has in plan for us the general public, and where we are headed. If not for us for the children of the future. L’ZZZ!!!

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