On January 1st, police in Britain are to be given sweeping new powers. Police, from Sunday onwards, will be allowed, if they think it “necessary”, to hold anyone they suspect of any offence – motorists who are not wearing seat belts, for instance, or who commit the felony of driving in a bus lane, or even your young ne'er-do-well who throws his fish supper wrapper away in the street.
Moreover, the police will be allowed to store a digital photograph of you on a database even if you have been found innocent of the charge you were originally arrested for.
The Home Office is changing the law because current legislation on what is an arrestable offence is, they argue, “bewildering”. On the one hand you have the Home Office suggesting your average cop is too daft to make his/her mind up as to what is a criminal offence, while at the same time asking the police to make an on the spot decision on whether or not it is “necessary” to arrest your average lawbreaker for gobbing his wad of chewing gum onto the pavement.
Were it not bad enough that Britain has more CCTVs spying on us than any other country on the planet (an estimated 300 cameras will have watched you when you get back home after a day’s bargain-hunting in Newcastle), that the British police have the biggest DNA database in the world, that your location can be tracked to within 6 feet when you use your mobile phone, but from next March, almost every car journey made in this country will be logged by CCTV and satellite cameras, and stored away for future reference on a police database. Terrestrial and space based cameras make it possible for the state to recognise your car number-plates anywhere you go and, we are told, quite soon they will be able to recognise human faces as well.
Forgive me for sounding alarmist, bit I’m banking that in a few years every single adult in Britain will have their mug-shot on a police database, that the day will come when your movements will be logged the moment you leave your house in the morning.
No doubt people, like me, concerned about increased police powers and increasing state intrusion into our daily affairs will be met with the imbecilic line: “If you’re not doing anything wrong, then you have nothing to worry about.” The point is that this has nothing to do with our innocence. It’s all about mistrust; about the state saying we can not trust a single one of you as far as we could kick you. The state is saying you have a brain and are capable of thought, so you are therefore a potential threat to very powerful interests and consequently need to be tracked 24-7. This is the state saying they want to know everything about us from the moment we’re born until the second our heart stops beating.
When you consider the state has access to the NHS database, to info transmitted each time we use credit cards (the spy in your wallet), to info that will be contained on the coming national id cards, the info gleaned at the NSA base at Menwith Hill that scrutinises our phone conversations and scans our email, the info amassed by Echelon, perhaps the most powerful intelligence gathering organization in the world and sponsored by the USA and the UK, then it’s time to sit up and start worrying.
Our civil liberties are being eroded by the second. You can either sit back and accept it as inevitable and reconcile yourself to a lifetime of mind-numbing conformity, never daring to think an out-of-the-place thought about the system that exploits you, or you can organise with others in an attempt to wrest state control from those who use it as a means of utter oppression on behalf of the master class. But don’t take too long to think about it – your thoughts will one day not be your own