back to article Lord Carlile: Police are taking the proverbial on terror

The government’s own anti-terror advisor, Lord Carlile of Berriew, believes that the police are over-using and misusing anti-terror laws to crack down on photographers. Speaking to the Independent this week, he warned that officers who make use of Section 44 powers to stop and search anyone in a designated "authorisation zone" …

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Says it all really

"a backlash against perceived heavy-handedness could lead to members of the public becoming more aware of their rights, less co-operative, and ultimately far more difficult to police."

People becoming familiar with their rights is the last thing the filth want, because it might mean they have to abide by the rules and stop acting like violent oppressors given half a chance. See the recent London economic protests and their "kettling" tactic for further evidence of the us vs. them attitude in much of the UK police force.

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Big Brother

Ah, for Dixon of Dock Green

Right idea; not sure about the sentiment.

If the generally-law-abided public can trust the police not to take the piss then they will be far more tolerant when the odd bobby goes OTT. If, on the other hand, it appears the problem is institutionalised then senior police are quite sensible in fearing a less co-operative public as a result.

I seem to remember a time - pre 9/11 & 7/7 - when I did trust the police and would happily have indulged Plod if he wanted "a little chat" because I would have felt he was motivated by that fuzzy principle 'The Right Thing.' Now that isn't the case, because the police have had dictat upon dictat from central government to look like they're dealing with terrorists, so it's hardly surprising that they actually follow them.

After 7/7 Tony Blair said that "we will not let terrorists change our way of live." No Tony, we won't. We've had New Labour to do that instead...

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Megaphone

Protest Idea

This fear that the police have gives me an idea for public protests/demonstrations in defence of our rights.

Quite simply: hand out leaflets summarising our rights, with web links for where to learn more.

A megaphone might be handy, to attract public (and police) attention.

Basically, just publicly publicise our rights.

It would be fun to see how the police respond to such action.

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Unhappy

There never was any dixon of dock green...

>I seem to remember a time - pre 9/11 & 7/7 - when I did trust the police

A lot of people have had the exact same reasons not to trust them for a decade or two longer than that, but it used to be just striking coal miners and hippy anti-road or anti-nuke protesters who used to get the treatment.

Now it's everybody.

But the point is, even when they were restraining themselves to only bashing minorities who nobody cared about, they weren't trustworthy even then, they were already institutionally corrupt all along - it's just that nobody knew it half so much.

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Flame

Unbelieveable Arrogance of this lot!

"The fear, expressed within the ranks of senior police officers [...] could lead to members of the public becoming more aware of their rights[...]and ultimately far more difficult to police."

So what the top cops are afraid of is that we won't stand being pushed around by jackbooted ego-trippers for much longer?

Good, you ought to be afraid, once your New Labour masters are out of the picture for the next few decades, you're next!

Not AC, they should fear us, not the other way round!

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Anonymous Coward

They just don't get it

"The fear, expressed within the ranks of senior police officers, is that a backlash against perceived heavy-handedness could lead to members of the public becoming more aware of their rights, less co-operative, and ultimately far more difficult to police."

But not the fear that their officers might be unlawfully exceeding their powers?

AC because I live near Chatham.

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We have rights?

"The fear, expressed within the ranks of senior police officers, is that a backlash against perceived heavy-handedness could lead to members of the public becoming more aware of their rights"

So the cops are scared we may become moe aware of our own rights? is that an indication they're happy to trample all over them in hope of our ignorance?

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WTF?

D'oh!

"taking too many photographs in a busy shopping area".

"by two special constables who told him he needed a licence to take pictures at the public event."

Say isn't that the Google camera car, now where ARE those cops when you need 'em.

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FAIL

Really?

Does Lord Carlile of Berriew expect the plastics to take any notice of the law when they are on a power trip? Old heads in the Police knew their job meant being human and having 'discretion', the current bunch led by graduate entrant control freaks however...

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Grenade

What me, worry?

"The fear, expressed within the ranks of senior police officers, is that a backlash against perceived heavy-handedness could lead to members of the public becoming more aware of their rights, less co-operative, and ultimately far more difficult to police."

I guess the ACPO had better realise this is EXACTLY what HAS happened becuase Plod aren't seen to be doing their job properly, if they don't back off from this guilty until proven innocent approach to policing it's only going to get worse. Stop harrassing photographers and motorists and do some real police work!

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Black Helicopters

It won't be long....

...before we will be able to buy a high resolution 'stealth' camera, built into a normal-looking pair of glasses, and operated by a remote control of some kind. Who knows - it probably won't be long after that when it will include a 'heads up' display on one of the lenses.

When that happens, we can all, finally, look forward to the real-life implementation of the 'Not the Nine O'Clock News' sketch where someone got arrested for "looking at me in a funny way".

The point I am trying to make is this...

If the police already find it a struggle to differentiate a bomb-plotting terrorist from an innocent tourist (heck they are pronounced the same in Yankese already!), just wait until digital camera technology takes the next leap forwards! When that happens, stopping and pondering on something for more than ten seconds will be a 'stop and search' justification.

1984 vs Brazil vs Minority Report anyone?

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Unhappy

Your photographs can't hurt me...

...my section 44 is like a shield of steel!

Batfink is a twat, too!

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Anonymous Coward

Hello police state.

"authorities are unwilling to disclose which areas are authorised" deemed entirely unacceptable in a free country. If this is not disclosed then you have to assume everywhere "is authorised", meaning that the checks and balances on police powers abuse are effectively void. And that is the death of democracy. Carry on government.

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policing by consent

The police are very much the minority and need to try and remember that p*ss*ng off the majority will not help anybody in the long run.

Some people will claim they have only ever met polite well-intentioned policemen. They miss the point that the ‘nice’ policemen they’ve met don’t control or censor the gits who believe they have the power to do anything they want, indeed they will even protect them from prosecution as far as they can as they hold a group ‘us against the world mentality’. Until the supposed good ‘uns wake-up and are willing to stand up and get shot of the dross the view of the police will determined by their lowest functioning members.

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Anonymous Coward

Section 44 areas

Would it be legal to build a google maps app that allows people to register where they've been searched under Section 44? That would build up an interesting picture...

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Good idea...

I need a new project to have a bash at, you may have a good point there. As for legality, what about if the website was hosted offshore - I can use google maps for foreign countries from here, so vice versa wouldn't be a problem. It would need to default to the English language interface, and just accept map pins. An abstracted view would show an estimated outline of the designated area, which would change as new entries were made.

An additional feature would be to categorise stops/searches etc by, for example, photography, which would build up a picture of how keen each force was to push each agenda. Filters would allow viewing of just photography, or just the MET, and so on. Then I could trend the data over time....

AC, if you don't mind...

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Go

So, that licence

When the police talk about photographers needing "a licence" to photograph in some places or events, I wonder how many of the officers doing the stopping and the searching have actually seen a photography licence or would recognise one if they did. I mean who is handing out these things anyway? I bet it would be dead easy to whip up a laminated card with "Photographer's licence" on the front ( or for maximum "joke that goes over the audience's head" value "Artistic Licence" ) and some small print and get waved right on past...

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Anonymous Coward

Eric the half a photographer?

I guess cameras are the new handguns.

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WTF?

I know ...

... others have already commented on this, but "The fear, expressed within the ranks of senior police officers, is that a backlash against perceived heavy-handedness could lead to members of the public becoming more aware of their rights, less co-operative, and ultimately far more difficult to police" is at once one of the funniest and most frightening things I've read recently! God forbid that people might know their rights so that they can't be pushed around easily without making the fuzz accountable.

What a bunch of tossers!

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Anonymous Coward

BS!

"Craig Mackey, speaking for the Association of Chief Police Officers on this issue, blamed lack of awareness by officers as to how best to use "complex" legislation."

That's BS. Were we talking about an isolated incident then that maybe the case, but this is common and widespread. Therefore somebody has told the bobbies on the beat that they should stop and search people taking photographs. What we need to know is who has been giving out this advice. I read that in one recent case it was claimed by the force concerned that the advice had come from special branch. Which is interesting, I thought that they no longer had responsibility for anti-terror policing.

Of course that same case was the one where the photographer was arrested, according to the police he was arrested because the (female) police officer found his size threatening. Apparently the photofgrapher concerned was 5'11" and 12 stone (other weights and measures are available). Now I wasn't aware that being tall and knowing your rights was actually an arrestable offence, but while 5'11" is taller than average it's very common. I'm 5'11" and I'm dead common. We're not just dealing with the police thinking that photography is reasonable grounds for suspicion, but pretty obviously being briefed to arrest any "suspect" who's being a bit awkward and knows a little something about the law.

I think that the next time I carry a camera I may also carry a copy of the relevant legislation. It would be priceless to see the face of some officious little plod when confronted with the wording of the very legislation s/he's trying to use incorrectly. Imagine it, "So, officer, can you show me exactly where in section 44 it says you can do what you are doing and that I can't do what I'm doing?"

Oh and @Campbell. YAAAAAWWWWN!

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Linux

Protest on Saturday

"The fear, expressed within the ranks of senior police officers, is that a backlash against perceived heavy-handedness could lead to members of the public becoming more aware of their rights"

And you wouldn't want the general public becoming more aware of their rights would you? The police want to treat photographers like c*rap and then are astonished when the togs won't kiss their boots in return.

Protest outside the Tate Modern at 3.30pm on Saturday 5 December.

http://www.amateurphotographer.co.uk/news/Photographers_to_stage_protest_over_photo_rights_news_292567.html

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The police never do anything wrong...

"perceived heavy-handedness". No, you flipping morons, it's just "heavy-handedness".

I've been stopped by some moron (my new name for the police) who wanted to search my bag. He was very rude, acting as though he owned me. He asked if there was anything sharp inside. I told him he'll have to find out for himself.

The police do not have a difficult job to do. And they often do it very badly.

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Anonymous Coward

Bags etc

I went to London shortly after Menezes was shot (the two were unconnected). I had a beard at the time - and as usual took a back pack with me, you know, change of clothes, mobile charger, that sort of thing. I honestly thought it a possibility I'd be shot by the fuckers.

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WTF?

Assisting the police with their enquiries

"Recent legislation has introduced the notion that it should be an offence to photograph police officers for terrorist purposes – and police as far afield as North Wales and Chatham now interpret this as a general prohibition on photographing police officers."

So .. if a plod is doing something unlawful (like whacking an innocent bystander to the ground as they walk to work, as happened to Ian Tomlinson) are we allowed to photograph the police in order to indentify the perpetrator, and thereby assist the police in their enquiries like the good citizens we are??

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Anonymous Coward

There are some problems with your post.

Agree with the backlash comments above.

A point that needs to be made is that the cops very often act under no powers at all.

If a policeman comes up to you and says please accompany me to the police station, most people will amble along. If you say no thanks, most probably nothing will happen. The point being that the cop, as well as having extra powers, can do anything an ordinary citizen can do. Therefore, because I'm at liberty to ask people to turn their pockets out, show me their ID card or accompany me to the police station, the cops can do that too. If you go along with what the cops ask you to do, you have consented to the cops action and there is now no question of police powers or legality; someone made a request and you complied.

If you decline the cops request, they may start getting funny and using real or imagined laws to get you to do what they want; this is when you have to decide whether or not you want to become a human rights activist.

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Anonymous Coward

BTDT

"A point that needs to be made is that the cops very often act under no powers at all."A point that needs to be made is that the cops very often act under no powers at all.

You ain't wrong there.

For example I was once stopped on my motorbike for not wearing a jacket, gloves and boots. Now you know and I know that that is not an offence. I'm pretty sure that the policewoman concerned knew full well that it wasn't an offence either. However, in order to search you or inspect your vehicle or paperwork they have to have a reason to stop you first don't they? So presumably in my case plod were after my paperwork or inspecting my bike. Unfortunately for them I was carrying my licence and insurance and the bike was taxes. Furthermore there was nothing illegal about the bike, it was pretty much as it came out of the crate and well looked after.

However I wasn't giving plod the satisfaction of finding out either. I refused to produce my paperwork or even switch off the engine or get of the bike. I merely kept repeating that I would be happy to cooperate once she told me what I had done wrong. And each time she pointed out that I wasn't wearing protective clothing, I replied that it wasn't illegal. Eventually realised she wasn't going to get anywhere and told me she would leave it this time and got back in her patrol car. At least she had the common sense not to tell me she was going to let me off.

If the same sort of thing happened today I'd be very inclined to report the incident.

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Flame

save us from petty people

"However, in order to search you or inspect your vehicle or paperwork they have to have a reason to stop you first don't they?"

No. They don't. If you're going to be a barrack room lawyer you should get your facts right.

Road Traffic Act 1988

(1)Any of the following persons—

(a)a person driving a motor vehicle on a road

,must, on being so required by a constable, produce his licence for examination, so as to enable the constable to ascertain the name and address of the holder of the licence, the date of issue, and the authority by which it was issued.

So really you were just being a knob.

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Anonymous Coward

No!

You're not quoting the whole thing. They have to have a reason to stop you in the first place, they are not allowed to stop a vehicle without a reason. Sometimes they have a warrant to do so, like when they are doing roadside vehicle checks with VOSA - in that case you don't need to have done anything wrong to be stopped. However if they don't have such a mandate they are not allowed to stop you without reasonable suspicion that you have broken the law.

Think about it. If she was in the right she had the power of the law behind her and could have arrested me or called in backup. She clearly knew she didn't have a leg to stand on.

But just to confirm that you are the cock that you first appear, this happened in 1985. So your RTA 1988 means nada.

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FAIL

At least shooting themselves in the foot is better than shooting Brazillians...

Craig Mackey, speaking for the Association of Chief Police Officers on this issue, blamed lack of awareness by officers as to how best to use "complex" legislation. He said: "It goes back to the issue of briefing and training of staff and making sure they are clear around the legislation we are asking them to use."

Yea that's it, Craig. Point the finger where it should be, at the humble Bobby's bosses... Hold on, wouldn't the bosses responsible for training, etc be each forces' Chief Police Officer...

Doh!

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Police State

Define a Police State:

In a nutshell, a State where the Police act with impunity knowing they'll never be held to task.

We are in a Police State, the only check on Police powers seems to be in the event of an officer actually killing someone as they arrest them, and even then they seem to get away with it.

I'm still currently waiting for an official report from the IPCC regarding an incident where an officer strangled a friend of mine while arresting him (I made the complaint as I was the main witness to the incident). The official line from the IPCC is "we can't do anything as all the officers involved deny it happened." This is depsite CCTV footage that shows the officer was heavy handed (unfortunately you only see the inital few seconds as the camera is very poorly located) and photographs of the bruises to my friends neck the next day.

In addition, at least 2 witness statements were never passed on and one key witness statement was made up by the police (the claim is that my friend's girlfriend was being raped by him, while being surrounded by at least 20 independent eye witnesses, none of whom saw anything more than a heated argument).

Added to all of this is the police's general attitude to anyone who looks like they might ride a motorbike and the arrogance they show. The officer who arrested my friend was even caught bragging about it and about how he was going to get away with it.

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"could lead to members of the public becoming more aware of their rights"

I know there's a whole bunch of posts here already on this subject, but I just wanted to add my voice to them!

People should become aware of their rights, since this seems to be the only way to counter the abuse of powers by the Police who, at the moment, are getting away with trampling on every right we have simply because they can and the sheeple are too afraid to object.

But what this highlights is a more dangerous problem in that the Police don't actually know (or care about) the rights of the people they are harassing and think (to quote Judge Dredd) "I am the Law!" and the law is whatever they think it is.

What we need is less "target oriented" Policing, less "box ticking" and less petty-minded BS and more actual Policing, unfortunately what we get is them rearranging the deck-chairs on the Titanic...

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FAIL

Lack of awareness?

"Craig Mackey, speaking for the Association of Chief Police Officers on this issue, blamed lack of awareness by officers as to how best to use "complex" legislation."

"Lack of awareness" is just a way of spinning "ignorance", and as I understand it, ignorance of the law is no defence from the law.

The police need to be taught to the law.

I rest my case, m'lord.

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Alert

Never Talk To A Policeman

It's US, but it's just as true here:

http://brasschecktv.com/page/342.html

Tell them nothing, nothing, without a lawyer being present. The idea that they are acting on anyone's behalf other than their own is just laughable.

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Bronze badge

not at all surprising

"It is hard enough for the public to keep abreast of this maze of legislation – and therefore not at all surprising if some police forces are also unable to keep their officers fully trained in the nuances of the law. "

Erm, no. That doesn't work.

My member-of-the-public job doesn't require me to have much specialist knowledge of the law. A policeman should know much more about the law than I do. Particularly laws related to what powers a policeman has. Something more specific than "we have a number of powers that allow arrest...(we won't tell you which one we used)", which is currently treated as being sufficient for a press release.

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Nice foldable document for your camera bag or wallet

http://www.sirimo.co.uk/2009/05/14/uk-photographers-rights-v2/

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Go

Nice foldable doc for your camera bag or wallet

http://www.sirimo.co.uk/2009/05/14/uk-photographers-rights-v2/

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Anonymous Coward

Thanks for nothing Lord Carlile...

Thanks your Lordship for taking an absolute age to tell us all what we've known for years - that our police forces are out of control - out of public control anyway.

In my small Scottish town the police are not only largely irrelevant to crime - as often as not they're actually part of the problem. Sensible people simply avoid them as far as possible.

I've seen people - inebriated but otherwise offering no trouble - deliberately provoked until there WAS trouble and a cheap pinch could be made - not once but a dozen times. Report a genuine crime, though, and you'd best not hold your breath.

Sound as though I have a chip on my shoulder? Hardly surprising. My wife and I are both retired and disabled - and have never been in any sort of trouble in our entire lives. But we hardly dare travel out in our car for gear of being harassed by the local police - just routine checks, sir. On average, at least one 'routine check' every month - for no reason I can fathom other than a previous challenge to their evidence in court.

When my wife was assaulted up by a well-known local yob, it took the police 25 minutes to travel half a mile (the car was seen 2 streets away), and the villain walked free from the court smirking the next day. When we complained about the tardy attendance, we were told severely to "Watch our step". Police evidence was a travesty of actual fact, but the court made it abundantly clear that challenging police evidence was asking for trouble. And trouble is what we clearly have got.

This isn't a matter of a few anti-police grumbles - I hear stories like my own all the time from all over the country. The entire UK police force is increasingly right-wing, politicised and out of OUR control. In fact, bought and paid for - but not by us.

Welcome to Banana Republic UK Plc (prop F.Brethren)...

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Stasi

< The entire UK police force is increasingly right-wing, politicised and out of OUR control. In fact, bought and paid for - but not by us.

Welcome to Banana Republic UK Plc (prop F.Brethren)>

I agree about the banana republic, but "Right wing???" Surely this bears all the hallmarks of LEFT wing socialist state control of everything/body? Which is just about where we're at today.

Labour have left us in such a mess the wishy washy Tories will never be able to sort it out - they'd need to annul just about all the legislation over the last 15 years - they'd never do that( some of it was their own), only a revolution might do it. Personally I think unless the army step in, this country is down the pan.

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Anonymous Coward

Get back on the job, Mr Plod.

This whole process of surveillance and micromanagement of private citizens lives is being fostered by our elected 'terrorists' in Westminster.

Broad-brush strategies like random stop-and-search or scanning every electronic communication in the country are 100% pure political bullshit, unless someone is willing to provide evidence to the contrary.

Maybe all this politically inspired displacement activity explains why the Met has a clear-up rate of around 8% for reported cases of rape.

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FAIL

London - terrorists everywhere?

Lets look at this from a tourist coming from say the US.

You arrive to armed guards at the airports with machine guns. The people behind the borders agency desk are worse than the fat pigs behind the desk in new york. Hours later you are crammed in a train into london, arrive at a fleapit of a supposedly first class hotel where you can see/hear rats roaming in the garbage at night - you take some pictures...

Next day you go out to visit the "sights" and have your expensive cameras taken off you by a very aggressive pair of plastic plod. You go to the station with the paperwork and are told that your camera has been sent off for "forensics" and it will be at least three months before you will get it back.

You are told it is probably best to report the camera as stolen and claim on your travel insurance - you decide to cut short your trip and return home.

The police force then sells your camera at a "proceeds of crime/lost property" auction and some plod gets a brand new D40 and your compact for almost nothing.

Her brother works in US customs and has flagged her cameras serial numbers as "aggravated theft - extreme caution". If the plod who stole her camera ever visits the US with it he is in for some serious payback.

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Boffin

Fencing Stolen Goods

Possession of stolen property in the US is a crime in and of itself, similar to fencing (selling of stolen goods).

And, of course, once you have that on your eCRB, guess it would be hard to get a promotion in the Force - oh, sorry - Service, eh?

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Just bend over...

Just bend over and take it, ask for the hot chocolate when you are in the cell too.

Quis custodiet ipsos custodes? Well its the IPCC... who are just policemen by another name.

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Lord Rip van Winkel

Awakes. Looks around for the bottle. Unfortunately the genie has grown like Topsy, and will not go back in. The situation calls for a special two-sided mushroom. Lord Winkel awakes. Looks around for the mushroom. Unfortunately there is none to hand, mushrooms having been made Class A substances.

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Unhappy

Every Day Wear

What really surprises me is that no one has made a fortune selling Navy Blue Windbreakers with "Innocent Civilian" in Yellow Block Lettering on the back.

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Coat

High Visibility Public

I rather like the idea of high visibility jackets with "PUBLIC" prominently on the back. Could be very handy when participating in a protest, to help remind the police that the public they claim to be protecting includes the protesters. After all, protesters are just members of the public exercising their right to protest, as the members of the public that they are.

Mines the one with bits of tape covering, erm, just blank bits of the jacket, actually. Did you think I was hiding my number, or something?

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Anonymous Coward

The police aren't wholly to blame..

This government bring in new laws at such a rate and so stealthily that not even the police themselves know of the changes. I recently spoke to a police officer who didn't know the smoking age had gone up to 18, but thought the legal age for driving a car had.

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Stop

No Excuse

Same as the rest of us, the police have a legal duty not to break the law. Ignorance is no defence. If they don't know what the law is, they should err on the side of caution: err on the side of avoiding breaking the law.

If the situation is now so bad that police officers can't even get on with policing without risking breaking the law, then they ought to quit. If someone else gave their job as an excuse for committing a crime, the police wouldn't accept that, would they? Same goes for the police. If their legal duty to abide by the law precludes continuing as police, they should quit, in order to abide by the law.

If, instead, they persist, despite committing crimes in the course of policing, that makes them career criminals.

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Anonymous Coward

More drivel from the ACPO

"Craig Mackey, speaking for the Association of Chief Police Officers on this issue, blamed lack of awareness by officers as to how best to use "complex" legislation."

There is no point trying to defend the indefensible. This is the kind of condescending statement which the ACPO routinely trot out these days.

This is not complex legislation, it's bad and poorly legislation, and was deliberately done in that manner to allow the authorities wide discretion in how they applied it. The ACPO were almost certainly consulted in this process and allowed that loophole to stand.

But even if that isn't true, this issue has been high profile for a couple of years now. Either the police training and briefing is incompetent, or the officers are incapable of understanding the law and aren't up to the job.

Given the ACPO's record of lobbying for wider powers to stop & search, thier pressure on Government over capture and access to more and more personal information and the National Identity Register, and their sheer intransigence over the collection and use of DNA in the face of Court Rulings one might be forgiven if this bullying and poor training is part of a wider Police strategy to push thier luck in the hope that the public won't notice.

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Flame

Shame the noble Lord doesn't know what hes talking about.

Funny, as I listened to Lord Carlisle on Radio 4 this morning I thought of you. He talked about good old fashioned policing and that police should just talk to people and there was no need to fill in all these forms. And he expected supervisors to be telling their staff likewise.

Oh if only that were true. but the fact is the government has created a bureaucratic monster where they want EVERYTHING recorded and measured. Its ironic really. He's right in a way, the police could have just asked, and given a reasonable answer would have been happy.

BUT in order to prove that Police aren't picking on minority groups they are told they MUST fill in records. In fact I'll go further and give you good odds that the number of stop and searches they carry out is one of the officers performance indicators.

That's a good document you've linked to. I wonder has Lord Carlisle seen it since his comments seemed to indicate that he has no notion of the powers that require no suspicion.

His contention that the powers if overused could be removed. In fact the opposite is probably the case. The continued use of them is in fact the justification of their continuing necessity. Cunning eh? Which law do you repeal, the only never used or the one used all the time?

But he didn't exactly say police were misusing the powers they had (even though he doesn't appear to understand them). I'm not convinced either that the issue is as high profile or widespread as you imply.

The specific photographer referenced by Lord Carlisle was speaking today as well. he said the police were polite and professional and his only issue was that they recorded his details which was, as you yourself say, for statistical purposes to avoid appearing biased.

you might not like it but in order to PREVENT crimes, something we expect police to do, they need to ask questions.

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Warrent

One of my mates in the States got so much hassle from cops visiting his house that he now has a signed permanently screwed to the door saying "COME BACK WITH A WARRENT" with the trust the UK cops are building I can see this happening here too.

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