Civil liberty in the UK ?

Posted: March 4th, 2006 | Filed under: Uncategorized | 1 Comment »

warning: politics below, you may wish to tune out from the rest of this post ;-)

The spring issue of Liberty‘s quarterly newsletter arrived through the mail yesterday. While the front page highlights the ongoing campaign against extraordinary rendition, there are plenty more issues of note besides this. One particularly striking article covers the increase in police powers – from January 1st 2006, the police gained the power of arrest for all criminal offences, even those not punishable by custodial sentence. The direction of the government’s thinking on matter of policing is also in evidence in the new “Police and Justice Act”, which proposes to extend police powers allowing them to:

...impose undefined and potentially limitless pre-charge bail
conditions on suspects which could include curfews and electronic
tags. Currently judges, not police, have a narrow remit to impose
post-charge bail conditions if the offender poses a flight risk,
might re-offend, or could intimidate witnesses.

This effectively gives police the powers of summary justice against suspects whom have not been charged with an offence, removing the long standing safeguard afforded by the current law requiring judicial approval / oversight.

Reading about these kind of developments in UK law & government policy tends to re-enforces my view that the our collective obsession with the actions of George Bush
in America, has led to us not paying enough attention to equally pressing matters home. This in turn has allowed the government to pass some outrageous legislation curtailing our civil liberties – what national security purpose is possibly served by prosecuting people for merely reading out names of UK servicemen killed in action.