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Monday, June 09, 2008

Labour's police state under siege

The Government's plans to make us all carry ID cards and to lock away suspected terrorists without trial for six weeks take a bit of a battering this morning with senior police officers criticising the latter whilst the Commons Home Affairs Select Committee jumps in on the former.

The Guardian reports that four senior police officers who oppose the extra period of detention without charge have expressed their concerns publicly. These include:

· Damage to relations with Muslim communities from whom intelligence to counter terrorism is needed;
· Fears that detectives will face pressure to find, even manufacture evidence, against those held for 42 days;
· Damage to the police's reputation by becoming involved in such a controversial issue.

One, Rob Beckley, who was the Acpo lead on communities and counter-terrorism from 2002 until last year, went public with his opposition in a speech to a Muslim Safety Forum conference last month.

A DVD of his speech, seen by the Guardian, shows the deputy chief constable of Avon and Somerset telling delegates: "It would be wrong to think that there is a uniform professional view within the police service. I, and I know other chief officers, do not see the necessity of 42 days; we can see the desirability, but at this stage I do not see the professional necessity.

"The issue now, unfortunately, has become very toxic and political, and we are moving away from a rational debate, because of the politics that now envelop this subject, not least of all, the role and position of the government and prime minister and all the other dimensions we read about in the press."

When the Guardian approached him, Beckley said: "I stand by what I said, and continue to have doubts about the investigative need and concerns about the impact on hearts and minds in our work with communities.

Meanwhile, a group of influential MPs have concluded that Britain is in danger of turning into a surveillance society. The report by the Home Affairs Select Committee concludes that they "are concerned about the potential for 'function creep' in terms of the surveillance potential of the national identity scheme. Any ambiguity about the objectives of the scheme puts in jeopardy the public's trust in the scheme itself and in the government's ability to run it."

The MPs said they accepted the government's assurance that ID cards would not be used as a "surveillance tool". But they demanded further assurances that people would not find themselves subject to unnecessary intrusion from the authorities.

"We recommend that the Home Office produce a report on the intended functions of the national identity scheme in relation to the fight against crime, containing an explicit statement that the administrative information collected and stored in connection with the national identity register will not be used as a matter of routine to monitor the activities of individuals."

The response of the Home Secretary is bizarre to say the least: "I know that ID cards will help me to prove more easily who I am," she said of the benefits ID cards will provide for innocent people. I suppose that could be quite valuable, after all Jacqui Smith is hardly the most recognisable of Government Ministers at the best of times.

Still, it does not explain why a supposedly left-of-centre government is pursuing such an authoritian agenda, going further than the Tories ever dared.


for all the debate on this, if you read some of the reports coming out from Westminster is seems that some Labour MP's might be voting on whether they will keep their seats in the next election rather than on he issues in hand due to the Government whips, hardly a good state for democracy.
I’m not sure if folks don’t realize that internment is something that the “UK” justice system has a lot of experience of. For example, imprisoning people in Northern Ireland without trial; arresting folks on the say-so of a British Army Office and held without trial; using torture on suspects (forcing suspects up against a wall with the limbs outstretched, blind-folded and a white-noise head set placed over their ears causing neurological injury); assassination of suspects; killing of a solicitor; use of non-jury trials, list is endless c/o our government.
Interesting to see that ID cards are back on the agenda – could someone remind me how much each card is likely to cost again?

Will these ID cards have benefit in fighting crime and/or terrorism?

What information will be kept on these cards? Will this information be safe?

What will be the penalties for not carrying an ID card? I for one (amongst many) will not be carrying this card, fine, community sentence or custodial sentence?

Our prisons are overcrowded – full of people with either a psychiatric disorder or those individuals are there as a result of alcohol and/or substance misuse.

Better start building more prisons; I don’t intend paying any fine or conforming to a community sentence.

G. Lewis
Bridgend Lib Dems
I understand that an ID card will come in handy for scraping frost off a car windscreen in winter, bit expensive at the £350 price tag when you can get an equally good scraper from Wilko's for 49 pence.
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