Don’t make me keep saying this

It’s rare to find good sense in an editorial in the Daily/Sunday Telegraph, but here goes. The Sunday Telegraph investigated how often local councils used the surveillance powers in RIPA (Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act).

As you might guess, they got back a wide list of uses such as spying on noisy children that were never suggested to MPs as likely outcomes of their voting for a supposed anti-terrorism law, a few years ago.

Car boot sales, pizza shops open late, underage kids buying cigarettes and alcohol, fly-tipping, the list of threats to the fabric of British society goes on and on.

Littering and the unauthorised selling of pizzas can be irritating, as can dog fouling and car boot sales (two other activities which RIPA has been used to clamp down on). But no sane person thinks they pose the same threat to public safety as terrorism, or require the same response. (From the Telegraph)

Phew, what a relief. The slightly more ideologically acceptable Observer has an article making some related points on the expansion of policing powers into the realm of non-police bodies..It focuses on the story of the family who put up lamppost notices about their lost dog and were threatened with an “£80 on-the-spot fine for antisocial behaviour.”

Keith Porter says:

As the police retreat from the streets, we are prey to every type of snoop, informant, busybody and vindictive martinet, all of them licensed by the government’s accreditation scheme so that they may demand our names and addresses, photograph us, check car tax discs and seize alcohol, issue fines for truancy, rowdiness, graffiti and dog fouling………
…Even police officers have doubts about the blurring of lines between uniformed officers of the law, whom we know to have received standard training, and these upstarts and busybodies wearing red-and-white prefect’s badges. (from the Observer)