Another Foundation to the Police State

Well in addition to ID cards, the impending superdatabase, the DNA database, the freedom for police to commit murder, the logging of all foreign travel movements and the warrantless freedom to search your house, even remotely. And that’s just a taster, not of where we might be but where we are. Marc Vallée details what’s next:

From Monday it will be an offence to elicit or attempt to elicit information about an individual who is or has been a member of the armed forces, intelligence services, or a police officer in Great Britain – it’s been an offence in Northern Ireland since 2000. It will also be an offence to publish such information.

In a nutshell, you could be arrested for taking and publishing a picture of a police officer if the police think it is “likely to be useful to a person committing or preparing an act of terrorism”. Your defence if charged by the crown prosecution service would be to prove that you had a “reasonable excuse” to take the picture in the first place.

I can see it now: “If you don’t stop taking pictures of me hitting this protester on the head, I’m going to nick you under section 76 of the Counter-Terrorism Act 2008.” When you add this to the comments made by Vernon Coaker, the minister for policing, in a letter to the National Union of Journalists in December, things don’t look good.

The Coaker letter laid out when the police could “limit” photography in a public place. He wrote: “This may be on the grounds of national security or there may be situations in which the taking of photographs may cause or lead to public order situations or inflame an already tense situation or raise security considerations. Additionally, the police may require a person to move on in order to prevent a breach of the peace or to avoid a public order situation or for the person’s own safety and welfare or for the safety and welfare of others.”

Let me point two extremely important things out. Firstly there has never been a case where terrorists have reconnoitered their intended targets, using DSLRs or any other camera for that matter. I mean if you knew or suspected that MI5 were watching you, why would you draw further attention to yourselves? Secondly it has been admitted by the government that the most recent time the police threw their weight about in significant numbers around this ‘security considerations’ nonsense, they abused their power. They clamped down violently on journalists and camera crews alike, and all to prevent the documentation of their violence against entirely peaceful protesters. What can we expect, as Marc asks, when this is codified in law?

Join him and others to protest this insidious law, which would guarantee the police yet more powers which they don’t need, and even greater means to avoid accountability for their behaviour.

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