Friday, April 03, 2009

Adam Smith Director Asked: Your Papers Please...

The man on the left of the picture is Eamonn Butler, the excellent Director of the Adam Smith Institute. He is the author of a new book called the ROTTEN STATE OF BRITAIN. He writes about Britain becoming a Police State. How very appropriate then, that he should have an encounter with the law this morning while being interviewed by Canadian TV. I'll let him take up the story...

There I was, this morning, doing an interview in the office for a Canadian TV station (they took shots of The Rotten State of Britain to use, and asked for a copy too). We'd finished the inside shots, so we went outside to do some set-ups of me walking down the street. After about 2 minutes up screeched a red police car, and two armoured officers got out to ask our business. Pretty obvious, I'd have thought, since the cameraman had a huge camera on a tripod and the interviewer was carrying one of these big microphones like a shaggy dog. But they had to provide identification and fill in forms – name, address, date of birth, height...

Sure, we're in Westminster, but I wouldn't have thought that Church House, where we are, is a particularly sensitive building.

The cameraman suggested that it was obvious what we were doing, and why did he need to fill in his details. The police officer explained that since we were on at least four different security cameras, they just had to go through the procedure.

Note: Gordon Brown claims he is inspired by Adam Smith.


Bearded Socialist said...

have they made Being An Idiot a crime yet? Anyone from the Adam Smith Institute certainly falls into that category

DespairingLiberal said...

He should have said he worked for Google. Then everything would have been fine.

Jim said...

The photo probably broke a terror law

Anonymous said...

Hmmm. So if you're on more than 4 cameras you're a potential criminal. Interesting. Where exactly does the law state this?

Don't tell me, it's in Jacqueboot Jacqui's Diverse Police State Handbook, (Second Edition 42 chapter removed)

Anonymous said...

This really should be filed under "you couldn't make it up". What an Orwellian nightmare is being generated around us. God we need to get this shoddy crowd out.

Plato said...

I live in the middle of nowhere and have a giant sign outside my house saying 'Surveillance Cameras in Operation'

WTF has happened to our country?

Catkins said...

The police were lying. You don't have to provide details unless you are being reported for a recordable offence. I'm aware that they try this one on with everyone, esp. for random searches under Section 44 of the Terrorism Act, but it's not true. I'm also aware that nearly everyone is intimidated into handing their details over.

Read up on your rights. You do not want your details entered in the Stop and Search database. If a bomb every goes off in that area, there'll be a record of you being detained and questioned under the Terrorism Act.

Simon Gardner said...

I remain bewildered that the British public actually LIKES ALL THIS. And they absolutely approve of all the surveillance cameras.

Ask Henry Porter. Ask Shami Chakrabarti. The public positively like all this.

If you haven’t got anything to hide etc etc... as the mantra goes. The public deserves it.

Tony Sharp said...

So having been stopped going about their lawful business and having filled in their details on a form, what happens next?

What process do these details go through? How and where are they stored and for what purpose?

If there were at least four cameras watching the area as suggested, how in the name of all things holy did someone deduce that there was a threat to law and order necessitating the police to attend the scene?

I support the men and women of our police forces up and down the country who do a difficult and dangerous job. I hate it when people speak of a 'police state'. But this is another example of how politicians are forcing a change in the relationship between the police and the public.

Our decent police officers risk losing the support of law abiding people and are being turned into a laughing stock as a result of the game playing.

JMB said...

I hope that Canadian TV show the whole incident to show how we are becoming a police state.

Papiere, zeigen Sie mir Ihre Papiere - schnell!!!

Wrinkled Weasel said...

As Catkins said, they cannot compel you unless they think you have committed a crime. You say, "Are you arresting me?" If the answer is no, you are within your rights to tell them to go away.(I really mean, tell them to go away, not eff off.)

There is no law in this country that compels people to produce their identity. It is a simple as that.

jailhouselawyer said...

Why have 4 cameras to record what is happening and then waste police time asking what is happening?

Catkins said...

"What process do these details go through? How and where are they stored and for what purpose?"

The information will be entered on the police Stop and Search database, to be used any way they damn well wish. Some forces hold for seven years, some for life.

200,000 stopped by the Met under Section 44 in the past year. Not one arrest for terrorism. 180,000 stopped by British Transport Police in the past year. Not one arrest for terrorism.

Bet you 99% of people handed over their details - the tooled up thugs of BTP.

Did you know the Met stationed themselves at the entrance the 'Taking Liberties' exhibition recently to record the details of all those subversive snivelling civil liberties types attending?

Catkins said...

To add, if you are stopped and searched don't refuse to give your name until after the search of you or your belongings. Say you want to concentrate on keeping an eye on them. If you refuse before they start, they'll take your details from your credit card or something during the search, but if they've finished they can't go back in your bag for a second attempt.

Oh, and they'll ask you for your ethnic grouping, and have to accept what you say. If they choose to mess you around, then you can choose to screw their stats. Remember, everyone has a little bit of African Ancestry......

Sue said...

That's very worrying. At least they didn't take DNA, did they?

Something for Mr Butler to put in his next book. I'm reading "The Rotten State of Britain" at the moment and a very excellent read it is too...

Conand said...

Somebody needs to bring out an 'Ihre Papieren' Bitter, some money from every pint going to Liberty etc.

Unsworth said...

Standard intimidatory behaviour by the cops. I was brought up to have some respect for the police, to rely on them if I found myself in trouble, even to ask them the time. Now I would cross the road to avoid them, I refuse to have anything to do with them, and rather than ask for their help I fend for myself. In summary, I view them with contempt. I know that my experience and sentiments are commonplace.

That is what things have come to. The middle class have come to regard the police as their natural enemies. Whose fault is that?

DespairingLiberal said...

Sadly Unsworth, you are right. Things are even more depressing if you ever actually have to call the police to report a crime. In my experience they are more likely to hassle you as complainant (an easy win - after all, you are standing there in front of them) than to go after the criminal. In one case I had, where many people witnessed an assault and expressed willingness to give evidence, the two uniformed drones despatched turned it down on the grounds that there was no video evidence.

Possibly this is caused by the CPS slavishly over-allowing defence to get away with bloody murder though?

Plato said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Andy said...

Your man does like to make it sound all dramatic though, doesn't he..

two armoured officers got out to ask our business

oooh, this sounds a bit like armed officers. Would he rather that there were police patrols with no body armour or is he just trying to make it sound a bit militaristic and scary?

Plato said...

I worked for the plod for a while and IMHO they fall into three categories:

1 = Dixon of Dock Green, immensely polite, courteous and upstanding. They really are inspiring.

2 = Bully boy Gene Hunt types who like to push people around - using a uniform as camouflage where necessary. Small in number but still out there as ever.

3 = Career coppers with 1st class degrees who have a strong sense of justice marred by targets/spin and politics - and seduced by the power of the Home Office.

No wonder it is mess - I'd prefer locally elected Chief Cons myself - but with no affiliated mandate - just judged on their track record.

April 03, 2009 6:53 PM

Calais said...

@ Tony Sharp

"police officers risk losing the support of law abiding people and are being turned into a laughing stock "

I used to share your view. I don't now.

The police are now widely hated and I'd say the feeling is spreading fast amongst the law abiding. One measure is the rate of increase of people on the dna database. It includes many 100,000's that haven't even been charged, never mind tried or convicted.

Each has been arrested, interrogated for personal details, fingerprinted, photographed and quite probably celled for hours. Any with good jobs have been threatened with the loss of their livelihoods.

These days anything the arrester "doesn't like" is sufficient cause as ALL offences are now arrestable and the "reasonability" requirement has effectively gone.

We live under arbitrary police power - a good working definition of a police state.

DespairingLiberal said...

Yes, the "must make an arrest" system is tragic and appalling.

However, the police do have a very, very hard job and in many ways are all that is left between us and anarchy. Look at current conditions in Mexico for an example of what happens when the drug dealers take over.

The police deserve our support, but admittedly some changes in both policing and police behaviour leave much to be desired.

Simon Gardner said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Calais said...


The police don't have a hard job, or at least not by comparison with previous english police. Their predecessors at least needed to know the laws that circumscribed their actions. Now they don't.

Don't believe me?

Read what Deputy Assistant Commissioner David Gilbertson (retd) says.

From: David Gilbertson
Sent: 04 March 2009 14:02
Subject: Excessive Powers of Arrest by Police - Petition to the Prime Minister

Dear Friends and Colleagues,


Most people are unaware that in 2005 a fundamental change in police powers was quietly passed into law; a change that directly affects the life and liberty of you and every person in this country.

Section 110 of the Serious Organised Crime and Police Act 2005 was 'tacked onto' an otherwise acceptable piece of legislation and allows ANY police officer in England and Wales to arrest, (i.e. physically detain, handcuff and take to a police station for a DNA sample), ANY person, for ANY offence, no matter how trivial and whether or not a power of arrest previously existed for that offence. People can now be, (and have been), arrested and detained under Section 110 for not wearing a seatbelt; dropping litter; shouting in the presence of a police officer, climbing a tree, and building a snowman. Whereas police officers used to have to justify every arrest and be aware of whether or not a particular piece of legislation gave them power, they no longer have to do so. The power to deprive someone of their liberty should only be exercised in the most extreme circumstances, yet young and inexperienced police officers, (and soon, PCSO's), are being trained that arrest and detention of a suspect is the first option in most encounters with the public. This sweeping power is being roundly abused on a daily basis in all of the 43 police forces in this country and puts you, your wife, husband or partner, your children and your friends at risk of arbitrary action by the police.

I spent 35 years of my adult life in the Police Service and am appalled by what it has become, largely as a result of powers such as those granted under Section 110.

Petitioning the Prime Minister will probably do little to stop the drift of this country to what has been described as a 'Stasi State' but I would nonetheless ask that you consider placing your signature on the petition - if only to see how the government responds to genuine concern from thoughtful citizens.

If you are sympathetic to this project, please forward this message and link to other friends, colleagues or bodies concerned about civil liberties.

The link to the petition is below:

Thank you,

David Gilbertson QPM
(formerly Assistant Inspector of Constabulary
Her Majesty's Inspectorate of Constabulary,
Home Office (retired 2001))

Sorry for the length, but there is no link.

Anonymous said...

Church House? I reckon anyone running with a gun from Church House would find some interesting targets within 45 seconds. Not counting simply going inside and seeing who was using the meeting rooms there.

Calais said...

@ ttbb676767

The only people running around outside Church House seem to be the "armoured police".

You're not suggesting there were Brazilian electricians on the loose are you?

Jess The Dog said...

Nazis, Stasi, Securitate

Take your pick.

Become a Refusenik! Know your rights and make sure you use them!

Sometimes I fear the tipping point has been passed and we will never get our rights and liberties. In that case, I'm heartened by the G20 troubles and the fact the police found it very difficult to contain a handful of Swampies. 10,000 people in Guy Fawkes masks marching on Parliament (hmmmmm....nice dream.....zzzz)

The Refuser said...

I have worked alongside the police and in my experience most of them were as sick of what has happened to Britain in the past decade as most of us. That said they were not your run of the mill coppers. I also worked with a couple of chaps who joined the local police. One was barely literate the other was what Alastair Cambell would describe as psychologically flawed. On the whole I have a lot of time for the police but the current administration seems to have changed the relationship with the police and the public and not for the better. To be honest I'm glad I emigrated as I don't see an easy way to undo what has been done short of making socialism illegal!

thespecialone said...

Catkins for your information. When someone is stopped and/or searched one of the questions is about ethnicity. Remember, this was brought in because of the ludicrous Macpherson report into the Stephen Lawrence murder. The person who is stopped/searched can say what he/she likes. But then the police officer has to give his/her version.

I cannot comment on this particular stop. Remember again, it isnt the front line police fault. We are not allowed to be discretionary. We have to follow the rules (brought in by Labour).

Anonymous said...

Sadly, we have all sleepwalked into becoming a Surveillance State

JMB said...

There has been a lot of discussion about similar problems on various photographic forums.

If they wish to do a Section 44 search then I believe they have to fill in a 5090X form. But you still don't need to identify yourself though of course they are going to get your name from your wallet (and perhaps a new flat screen TV on your credit card!).

I have not seen anyone explaining what the position will be when they start using CTA 2008 Section 76 against people.

It would be good if someone with legal knowledge could produce a check sheet and form so you could be prompted with exactly what are your rights and also enter all the details of the police asking the questions.

They seem to vary a lot, some quite understand their limitations and accept that you have no obligation to identify yourself though of course there is the Catch 22 situation where they might arrest you on suspicion because you will not identify yourself even though you are not obliged to do so!

The Police Canteen Support Officers seem to be worse because many seem to have little idea about what they are allowed to do and what they are not allowed to do.

Calais said...

@ thespecialone

"Remember again, it isnt the front line police fault."

Frankly, it IS their fault.

It is true they are amongst others who have greater culpability, particularly the amoral scum at the top of the labour party, but they (and by the sound of it, you) bear responsibility for the detail enforcement of these laws.

Just as the SAfrican Republic police enforced the pass laws and became simply the repressive agents of an unjust state, the police have forfeited their previous place in english society. As I said above they are now hated by many of the law-abiding and I can see little reason why this will not grow substantially.

Anonymous said...

I see it as a result of unintended consequences. Or perhaps they are intended.

No problem, IMHO, in a couple of coppers wandering up to ask what they're doing. That's knowing your patch.

But a couple roaring up in a red van makes it more tense. The fact they're ordered to do so by police spy cams, makes it more tense still. Because they've been sent they have to get a result to report back. Hence the details taken to prove they're not being spun a yarn.

It all appears like - a police state.

Jonathan said...

I'm all for empowering the police to be robust when it is necessary and effective to be so, but this looks like Dad's Army stuff.

Old Holborn said...

On a serious note, I often get stopped by the police.

Just tell them to get stuffed.

You are under no obligation to give your name, address, date of birth or "racial" profile

Just say "declined"

troymolloy said...

"We are not allowed to be discretionary. We have to follow the rules (brought in by Labour)."

Perhaps you could have phrased that better, I don't know, but it does sound rather like the standard 'concentration camp guard' defence. Surely there would only be your colleague to grass you up?

Catkins said...

"Remember again, it isnt the front line police fault."

Are you a conscript officer? Thought not. Then it is your fault.

What do you make of this little episode by the way?

Conand said...

My Grandad was a Policeman and I've generally held them in the highest regard.
The Met can be a bit crazy though. Here are two of the weirdnesses I've encountered:

1: I was detained on the street briefly for locking my car.
2: I got stopped for having an Asian guy and a woman in my car. As far as I could tell :$

On the other hand, when I was mugged they drove me around London for about 40 minutes. It was fun, their banter was great. Didn't find the guy though. Oh well.

Trumpeter Lanfried said...

Coupled with the wrongful arrests to which the former Assistant Inspector of Constabulary draws our attention (Calais @ 8.37 PM) is a vicious policy of letting genuine criminals off with a caution. Cautioning has also got completely out of hand.

Now, sorry to shout, but WHERE IS DAVID CAMERON? What is he saying this and other civil liberty issues? Why isn't he hammering away at them, week in and week out?

Is he frit? Scared that Gordon of the clunking fist might accuse him of being soft on terrorism?

Thatsnews said...

So, exactly who are these cameras intended to be spying on?

The police officer explained that since we were on at least four different security cameras, they just had to go through the procedure.

This says to me that the officer was saying: "Look, I know what's happening, here. You are just doing a spot of filming. Unfortunately, some over-eager %$£& who spends all day gazing at TV screens got a bit bored and called for someone to check you out. Now, I am all for just having a friendly chat, talking to you about my brother Norman who used ot work at London Weekend Television as a cameraman. But sadly, I can't. I can't be a friendly copper like I'd prefer, because if I don't get these bloody forms completed, they can't tick their damned boxes, so I'll get a mark on my personnel record."

Calais said...

They are spying on you, baby.

The state agent doing the check is, you imply, laudably protecting his next promotion.

Meanwhile your personal details are being added to your very own stop&check database record (soon to be hooked in perpetuity to your complete life history on the ID card database). As are, completely co-incidentally, a full bearded gent round the corner.

No doubt you will be able to justify your association at Internal Passport Control when you board a ferry to, say, the isle of wight in 5 years time.

A word of caution, try not to touch the machinegun stuffed up your nose while you do so.

hatfield girl said...

I would be very frightened to be stopped by police and told I was required to give all sorts of information. I would give it because I'd be flustered and worried that I'd be prevented from continuing whatever I was doing as well.

I don't think I'd have the presence of mind to assess the situation quickly enough. And I'd be distressed for days after. It is right to say 'Just tell them no, declined, go away', but actually I'm not brought up to it. That kind of reaction takes practice most of us don't have.

DespairingLiberal said...

Calais - I said I am appalled by the Sec. 110 powers and I agreed with that petition.

Unfortunately though, in some ways you can see why the Home Office have drifted towards this extension of powers - given that both the courts and the CPS are now remarkably reluctant to punish, the police often only have "removal from the streets for a short time" as a practical option for many criminals. It is of course true that this is being abused, as all powers eventually are.

Parliament should think, think, think before passing legislation.

Not a sheep said...

Maybe Gordon Brown is confusing Adam Smith with Winston Smith?