Monday, November 27, 2006

New threats to freedom and liberty

Met. seeks further powers.

According to the Metropolitan Police there are sections of the community who are becoming more and more politicised and increasingly likely to join protests, demonstrations, raise banners, and chant slogans (heaven forbid). Therefore they feel it necessary to demand more powers to arrest citizens who cause offence through the use of their words, actions, or the banners they carry!

Curly feels as though they are dangerously close to crossing a line that marks the boundary between a democratic state and a police state!

In an article in the Guardian today, Vikram Dodd reports:

The country's biggest force, the Metropolitan police, is to lobby the attorney general, Lord Goldsmith, because officers believe that large sections of the population have become increasingly politicised, and there is a growing sense that the current restrictions on demonstrations are too light.
Trouble at recent protests involving Islamic extremists has galvanised the Met's assistant commissioner, Tarique Ghaffur, into planning a crackdown.

His proposals are due to be sent to Lord Goldsmith, who is reviewing how effective the current laws are in tackling extremists.
The police want powers to proscribe protest chants and slogans on placards, banners and headbands.

Human rights experts say that such powers could also be used against protesters such as animal rights and anti-globalisation activists.

The civil rights group Liberty said the powers would make the police "censors in chief".
The director of Liberty, Shami Chakrabarti, said:

"[The proposal] misunderstands the nature of law and free expression in a democracy and casts the police as censors in chief. It aims to protect people from 'offence' rather than harm, slates the CPS and muses wildly on 'public perceptions'."

A solicitor who has defended protesters, Mike Schwarz, said:

"Causing offence, if there is no other ingredient, is not against the law."

He said such proposed powers would clash with article 10 of the European convention on human rights which protects freedom of expression.

You can read the full report - here.

Curly feels that the police should be better employed chasing down the muggers and street thugs who plague the nation's capital, winkle out the car thieves and burglars, crack down on gun crime and rapists, rather than become embroiled in a war of words over our political protests and rights of expression.

Whatever is becoming of Englands "green and pleasant land"?

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