The Birth of a Police State: UK Police to be Granted Sweeping New Powers

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The UK Government is about to pass legislation which will make any behaviour perceived to potentially ‘cause nuisance or annoyance’ a criminal offence. The Anti-Social Behaviour, Crime and Policing Bill also grants local authorities, police and even private security firms sweeping powers to bar citizens from assembling lawfully in public spaces.  Those who refuse orders under the new rules will face arrest, fines and even prison time.

The Ever Increasing Powers

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Since the Crime and Disorder Act 1998, which introduced Anti-Social Behaviour Orders (ASBOs) the government has invented and legislated for a litany of such orders covering everything from dog poo to drug addiction, including but not limited to: Control Orders; Terrorism Prevention and Investigation Measures Orders; Intervention Orders; Crack House Closure Orders; Premise Closure Orders; Brothel Closure Orders; Gang Related Violence Injunctions; Designated Public Place Orders; Special Interim Management Orders; Gating Orders; Dog Control Orders; Letter Clearing Notices;  Noise Abatement Orders; Graffiti/Defacement Removal Notices; Directions to Leave and Dispersal Orders.

The Anti-Social Behaviour, Crime and Policing Bill, which passed the committee stage of its progress through the House of Commons on Monday 15th July, purports to simplify this legacy of New Labour’s legislative promiscuity.  In reality, it creates a series of wildly ambiguous, generic orders which grant officers of the state and private sector even greater powers to issue tougher sentences, with fewer checks and balances to protect citizens.

Being Annoying is now Illegal

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The Bill introduces Injunctions to Prevent Nuisance and Annoyance (IPNAS) to replace ABSO’S. Almost no one will be sad to say goodbye to ASBO’s.  The orders, designed to allow police to tackle anti-social behaviour, simply became a means of criminalising youthful indiscretion – and eventually a means of criminalising anything people found annoying.  Some of the bizarre abuses of this power include:

The ASBO has allowed the line between criminal behaviour and annoying behaviour to become hopelessly blurred – and the IPNAs will only serve to increase the problem.  We have seen the abuses permitted under ASBO legislation, the test for which included wording to the effect that ASBOs could only be issued where an actual act of ‘harassment, alarm or distress’ had occurred.  IPNAs have a much weaker test, applicable where on the ‘balance of probabilities’ a person has or might engage in behaviour ‘capable of causing annoyance’ to another person. How many times a day could this legislation apply to any of us? Eating with our mouths open, talking too loudly into our phones in a public space, walking too slowly or quickly or belching without saying ‘pardon me’.  All of this may very well cause annoyance – but soon it might well also be illegal.

The orders can be issued to anyone aged 10 or over (and we all know how well 10 year olds are at being annoying), and there is no limit on how long an IPNA can be applied to a person for.  A person could receive an IPNA aged 10 and retain it their entire life.

Whereas an ASBO could only desist the subject from certain actions, the IPNA includes ‘positive obligations’ (p10).  This means the subject of an IPNA can be found in breach not simply for doing things they have been banned from doing, but from not doing things that the IPNA states they must.  This makes an IPNA much closer to probation and other post-conviction arrangements than a civil order.

An IPNA can be applied for by Local Authorities, police, some transport bodies and some NHS authorities.

The consequences of breaching an IPNA are serious.  The breaching of an IPNA has been added to the conditions for securing possession of a home – meaning a 10 year old child breaching their IPNA could result in the entire family being evicted from their council house. Breaching the orders can also result in jail time for anyone over 14.

Even the Association of Chief Police Officers (ACPO), giving evidence on the proposals, argued that this could lead to further criminalisation of children and called on the government to think again.

But the plans move along unaltered.

 Kiss Goodbye to Freedom of Assembly

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Public Spaces Protection Orders (PSPOs), and new Dispersal Orders will replace Designated Public Space Orders, Dog Control Orders, Gating Orders and a host of other orders intended to keep aggressive drunken people, or drug dealers or dog poo off of our streets.  But it is plain that the target for these laws is no longer the person peddling illegal drugs, but the people sharing politically challenging ideas.

These new powers present the most significant threat to lawful assembly and protest in modern history.

Public Space Protection Orders

PSPOs will be granted where ‘activities carried on or likely to be carried on in a public place will have or have had a detrimental effect on the quality of life of those in the locality’ (p21).  They can be used to restrict an activity or require people to perform an activity in a certain way.  They require substantially less consultation than current alcohol free zones or dog control zones and rather than applying to everyone, they can be applied to specific groups of people (the homeless, the unemployed, racial/religious groups etc.) – opening the door for discrimination.  These rules could see homeless people or young people lawfully excluded from public spaces.

PSPOs are subject to ‘on the spot’ fines, rather than attendance at a Magistrates Court, reducing the scrutiny and checks on police power.

These orders are also by no means short term.  They can be applied for up to three years, and continued for another three years at the end of their term.

The orders have been heavily challenged by Liberty and The Manifesto Club on the basis that they will seriously infringe upon people’s freedom to assemble, associate and protest.  The Ramblers (the walking charity) have also given written evidence to the government raising their fears about the further appropriation of public highways, by ways and footpaths under the PSPO powers.

Dispersal Orders

Under the current Direction to Leave powers, anyone over 10 years of age can be asked to disperse from a ‘locality’ and stay dispersed for a period not exceeding 48 hours.  Current Dispersal Orders mean a Police Superintendent (or an officer with specific written authority from the SI) can disperse groups of two or more people in areas where there has been ‘persistent anti-social behaviour’ or take home any young person under the age of 16 who is in a dispersal zone between 9pm and 6am.  Anyone failing to comply with a Dispersal Order faces a fine of up to £2,500 or up to three months in prison.

Downing Street clearly do not feel this is tough enough.

The new Dispersal Powers mean police constables and even Police Community Support Officers (PCSOs) can issue dispersal orders if they think a group of two or more persons mightharass, alarm or distress others in the vicinity (p16).  The PCSO or constable can specify how long the person/group must remain out of the designated area, and by which route they must leave, and also confiscate any items of their property which they deem anti-social.  Failure to comply with any element of these orders results in a fine of up to £5,000 or three months in prison.  The new legislation also fails to define ‘locality’ – meaning a person could be excluded from a city, a county or even a whole country (p17).  In fact, York couldn’t even wait for the new legislation to pass and is already implementing the powers.

These new laws effectively end freedom of assembly in England and Wales, as any lawful assembly can be instantly redefined as illegal on the spot by some part time PCSO, people’s personal possessions can be confiscated, and anyone who dares to challenge the process will end up in jail.

What will it Take?

One could be forgiven for despairingly enquiring ‘what will it take for the slumbering British public to awake to the fact that the legal and physical infrastructure of a police state is being built around them?’  

Many believe they have rights to protest, assemble and associate that they lost a decade ago, simply because they have never actually attempted to claim them.   They remain imaginary rights, never cashed in.  As someone who has found themselves arrested, locked up and later cleared by a court twice in recent years for peaceful protest (see 1st and 2nd arrests) – I discovered for myself how much things had changed while I wasn’t looking.  So without getting everyone to attend a protest and get arrested, we rely on communicating the changes to those who might not experience them directly.

But while the BBC, our main broadcaster, has devoted its resources to stick a correspondent up the arse of anyone with the faintest connection to the Royal Baby – no such resources have been devoted to informing on the curtailing of our most basic freedoms. Defenders of the BBC may argue they are there to cover the news, not make it – this is an outright lie.

The Media create stories as well as cover them, many people glean what is important from how much it is being talked about on the news and in the papers.  Imagine if journalists were door-stepping David Cameron, human rights campaigners and police authorities all day every day asking what on earth was going to happen with our human rights? If 19 pages of today’s Sun (news)paper wasn’t talking about the Royal Baby but our eroded civil liberties?  Things would look very, very different.

In the meantime, it’s up to all of us with an interest to shout it from the roof tops.  We have a hell of a fight on our hands here, and most folks still don’t even know it.

SIGN THE PETITION TO OPPOSE THIS PIECE OF LEGISLATION BEFORE IT’S TOO LATE

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211 thoughts on “The Birth of a Police State: UK Police to be Granted Sweeping New Powers

  1. As in a threat from any world power is now extinct as the Western Allies have more or less subdued any serious threat of domination and overthrow of the present global power, now any exterior threat, be viewed as dead as the Dodo, the perceived threat by Establishment now is the general public, these people have to be subdued, to becoming a breed of puppets to serve the State Governments interests, requirements, to become a docile and obedient servant?
    Today,s news is to interrogate MI5/6, and the organization that has power to check all personal data of the individual, such as phone taps, this select committee, is a performance of propaganda to quell public fears as to what the truth is with regard to our minders of surveillance..
    We as the public have to know people like Yasser Arafat, most likely poisoned by polonium, if as in this case the individual rises to power that is not in accord with what the prevailing authorities see as group identity of self status interests, who feel a threat to their existence, imaginary or otherwise, to their own privileged position, the collusive collaboration of the pack, will necessarily by proxy, terminate any life form or subdue those that are the outsiders to their own political interests.
    Which is always under the guise of protecting the public.

  2. currently asbo’s require ‘harrassment, alarm or distreess’ which stems from ‘breach of the peace’ law, therefore requiring a ‘threat of unlawful violence’ (see white and green papers for s5 public order act 1936).

    the courts know this, but abuse the term anyway and issue orders regardless. police dont care about laws only using them as threats and justification for their own ends. this list goes on, but needless to say if current ridiculous legislation is abused to such a great degree, it is obvious that legislation saying ‘annoying’ will be widely abused by the abusers.

    the government/parliament and police have murdered innocent people in large numbers….. will this be considered ‘annoying’?

  3. Go to court and demand trial by jury, as is your right. That takes it out of de facto statute and brings it under common law, where they will be required to prove you CONTRACTED or CONSENTED to allow this power to be exercised over you. If you didnt, which is obviously the case, they cant do you for it. Remember also NEVER to sign anything or “understand” or agree anything.

  4. Simply a cover all protection for the rich/oligarchy when they see social protest working. In computer programming it’s called fall though logic.

  5. If they do this & Scotland secedes, there’ll be a massive wave of immigration into Scotland, reversing the Highland Clearances. I don’t want to live here any more – I hate what the ConDems are making of my country.

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  7. So what ? Listen to my phone calls / read my emails & make National IDs mandatory as well ! I have nothing to hide ? So there is no problem lol if you want to feel free…… Become homeless ! I’m sure you’ll live it :/) otherwise don’t take for granted your nice little life and then feel like you can bitch about systems that provide more than just safety & justice !

    • carl the i’m alright jack cos i’m mister conformist thing is bullshit mate … you obviously have had a sheltered life … if you cant see the wrong in this controlling scam they call the system here your just part of the problem … clones are created by propaganda and most of that now thro tv… who are they to tell us what attitude have! these pepole who pull he puppet goverments string are a sinister bunch of con men interested in filling there pockets off the back of the people and people like you seriosly need to wake up mate ! your way out of touch… roll on the fall.. cos all empires fall ..

      • Have a camera following you 24-7 wherever you go or whatever you do or say, that will be fine too, nothing to fear nothing to hide.There’s so much you or your family would miss if your children yourself, family & friends are recorded monitored with intent of suspicion even arrest if lets say the local bizzy body, (now taken out of his hands as no longer needed as the all seeing eye security cameras with microphones, or soon to be micro chips on every person etc) has seen you walk on part of the grass now banned when you had a little trip to Stone Henge with the family etc & you walked off the path onto the now illegal part grass section. Fined or arrested for now breaking a environmental law.
        Or lets says you were seen working on your car now illegal for health & safety reasons, think it won’t happen? Or maybe the Doctor banned you from eating your favorite choco bar because he has your health interests at heart even though you argue your as fit as a fiddle, next thing you know you get fined for breaking medical rules because a friend who is now in a police cell managed to get you a choco bar but he was being recorded by big brother as well, thrown in a cell & been told he was arrested for practicing medicine without authority for interfering with a patients well being.
        OK sounds paranoid far out nonsense or is it? Take a good look at the world around you past & present & look at all those stupid laws that make as much sense as an astray on a motorbike, there are thousands of them & they have been put there by the very same people you have nothing to fear or nothing to hide lot, the politicians, people that have no moral standing or care about you or me & make as much sense as that ashtray to a motorbike, I do hope something sinks in Carl, but am not hopeful nevertheless maybe just maybe something will click, lets hope it isn’t the cell door.

  8. Ok, so how does this work? I (and no doubt countless millions of people) find Cameron and plenty of other people in the media annoying on a DAILY basis, does this mean I can phone up the police, and waste their time lodging an IPNA against the Prime Minister, or any sub-celebrity who I find annoying in TV? What a load of rubbish. If they introduced this, any other political party that promised to abolish it would be in power next.

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  13. All these legislated acts and rules are only opinions! if you find yourself charged under any of these and are appearing at court? just ask them to provide factual evidence that these acts/statutes apply to you? they dont like that as there is none lol another one is to ask a judge if you are entitle to a fair trial? then ask him is it possible to get a fair trial with a conflict of interest? then ask him who he represents? lol game over! but always stay in honor! say you intend to plea guilty but first you would like to know what to? this is not about winning its about damage limitation as vinny says! good luck to all and keep up the fight!

    more info here http://marcstevens.net/
    and http://no-state-project.co.nr/

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  15. don’t be afraid of the police state, their are millions of us and only a few of them. wake up to your power x peace and love brothers and sisters

  16. I find it outragous that the government are getting away with this…. AAARRRRGGGHHHH makes me SSOOO angry. WE are born into this country and given no way of opting out of the system but we are forced to work our entire lives and probably never be able to afford a decent house when infact without the system we could build our own house in a couple of years. We are taxed and not paid for up to a third of our earnings… we are forced to do work that we do not get paid for… that technically ammounts to slavery which is illigel. we are crammed together in towns and cities… fenced in like cattle being milked for tax and free labour because if there are no poor, no slaves then there can be no rich. Then the government have the nerve to have a go at people who cant find work cuz there arnt any jobs and say that they are lazy and getting a free ride when the government are doing that them selves. instead of supporting their own establishment through the process industry they sit back and take the money from hard working individuals. instead of taking controle of large corporations and generating money from that they take controle of you and me… its time to take a stand. its time to fight… or die. cuz death is better than opression. i think guy fawks had the right idea.

    • The government has two roles one to placate and control what the people think, like did it occur to the politicians that the public are unconvinced when labor is cheap abroad to be exploited with little or no rights? and jobs exported for that reason, the government put out people are lazy or what ever sounds plausible to the unintelligent, the other voice that the public do not know about is the corporations who run government policy, in particular finance and banking who reward the governing powers with money for the dirty work.

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  22. Relevant words from across the pond…

    “From the conclusion of this [Revolutionary] war we shall be going downhill. It will not then be necessary to resort every moment to the people for support. They will be forgotten, therefore, and their rights disregarded. They will forget themselves but in the sole faculty of making money, and will never think of uniting to effect a due respect for their rights. The shackles, therefore, which shall not be knocked off at the conclusion of this war will remain on us long, will be made heavier and heavier, ’til our rights shall revive or expire in a convulsion.” – Thomas Jefferson

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  24. Personally, I look at the way that speed cameras have been mis-used and abused to extort money from ordinary people doing ordinary things. The problem with lots of laws are the unforeseen consequences. But I would say to anybody and everybody reading this blog: Your own apathy and bone idleness gets you the laws and the politicians your laziness allows. Take an interest in the agendas of the people who govern you and GO AND VOTE, even if it is to spoil the ballot paper. Is putting a cross in a box with a pencil once every 4 years really too much to ask? Your participation at elections keeps them honest. Think about it and do something when polling comes around again

    • SO TRUE ,WE HAVE TO RE-ENGAGE OURSELVES AGAIN…but i think alot of people feel like it wont make a difference …that cod be conspiracy theory …but yehhhh ,im defo from what ive seen going to get alot more involved in it from now on …..we cant be led blindly anymore !!!

  25. The BIG problem is that MOST people are convinced that the police work for the public, and that the only people that need to fear them are wrongdoers! That old myth that if you’ve not done anything wrong then you’ve nothing to fear! It simply isn’t the case, get one copper or street warden with an agenda, and we’re all in the excrement! What a sad sorry state, in more ways than one!

    • Anyone who isn’t a upper or middle class white person knows that the police isn’t always on your side. The problem is that the media works to marginalize white working class or minorities as the ones causing crime so the public at large don’t believe persecution claims.

      • The police are notable for persecution of soft targets, this is the collusive crime they collaborate in.
        In particular the so called working class, as opposed to those who are able to afford legal representation, and those in high places are immune, I am suggesting police review this anomaly to gain respect from the public of justice having significance.

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  27. Hang on a minute, I thought we were supposed to live in a democratic society, neither I or anyone I know has voted for this law. Seems more like a dictatorship to me. While it is true that some idiots elected this government in, it would be just as bad if labour or lib dems got in. These politicians are there purely for the illusion of choice. To be honest im sick of these twats dictating how we are supposed to live. Keyboard activist out.

    • Got to agree with that,been thinking it for a while. When this Government first came to power almost all of the ‘Big’ changes they made wearnt even in the manifesto and they’ve carried on with things like the bedroom tax etc. Wouldn’t be much difference with any of the others like you said, we need a radical change in this country or its going to be like a sci fi movie gone bad.

  28. To my mind this is a very clear case of failing to learn from previous experience. ASBOs didn’t work because they were too vague, too widely used and there simply are not enough police officers to actually enforce them. There are now fewer officers than ever before, saddled with ever-more paperwork and ever more disfunctional equipment and computer software. The magistracy, which handles around 99% of all UK criminal justice, is being similarly interfered with as never before.

    In other words the authorities are tooling themselves up with a suite of powers which are impossible to enforce simply because of a lack of enforcers, and a lack of prison places to house those who fall afoul of these rules.

    What is going on is the classic Socialist mindset, for all that a Tory government is implementing it. Socialists implicitly believe that they are right, and that if life is lived their way an earthly paradise will result. Since their way of life amounts to “Do as I say, not as I do” and is more or less slavery without respite or luxury for everyone save the Socialist elites, most people reject it fairly rapidly. Socialists then fall back on the law to force compliance with their dream, and as this fails more and more law is layered onto the problem to try to force a solution.

    Eventually people simply ignore the brutes in power; this has effectively happened already in Britain, especially as there are now so many laws that nobody can know of all of them.

    • Yes Dr Dan, the society having become more involved with complexity that is devised to fool the people and this condescending attitude of government becoming more inappropriate in threatening the public with oppressive ideology that is not working, many are becoming bored and are tiring of overt authoritarianism, we have had this system for some decades now, I would say even before Thatcherism, it actually started late 1960s, in the main the musicians become bought out as in excessive taxation, drugs supplied by MKultra, courtesy CIA, and knighthoods, and varied methods such as being wrapped up with legal contracts and in some cases death as a threat to establishment such as John Lennon, further frustration came about by artists and creative people being plagued by the insane, criminals, and people having their own agenda that was devious, purity of intention attracted the corrupt and this is the situation we now have that is for many existence has become a nightmare, as the controllers increase propaganda and are committed to crime that induces crime that is outside establishment criminal procedure and the few that are not corrupt or are attempting to wade through becoming non corrupt are caught in the trap that the controlling elite has set for all to become ensnared in. The elite base their ideas of entrapment on primeval observations such as the spider web, this is why these people are although simplistic are nevertheless a threat to the well being of the Planet and inhabitants.

    • You really need to look up ‘socialist’ in the dictionary. It’s not the same as ‘big government’. Otherwise the free-market police state that Pinochet ruled over in the 1970s would be ‘socialist’. Which is obviously absurd.

      This is a neo-liberal capitalist police state we’re heading towards, and if you can’t see this, you’re really part of the problem.

      Sorry.

  29. This is Camerons way of stopping the EDL confrontations and informing the people of the truth. Wonder if Muslims will be stopped from protesting too, or will that be racism against them

    • This is a really bad time to allow your prejudices to segregate you from everyone else having this law applied to them. Muslims have been subject to control orders, extraordinary rendition, torture and assassination by drone for years. The trifling ignorance of bigotry ALLOWS such egregious laws to pass as it says ‘well they deserve it’. This law affects us all.

      • Yes, I feel sorry for Muslims as most are perfectly decent reasonable people and they are just being used as “bogeymen” by a government filled with mass-murdering greedy sociopaths.

    • The EDL team and their counterpart UAF team are pitted together in public for the benefit of the cameras. Both sides of this stageshow are run by the PTB. Look up Saul Alinsky, Frankfurt School, useful idiots, controlled opposition. The confrontations are a multipurpose tool of political manipulation the EDL/UAF actors are “useful idiots”. Consider who funds them and their ilk.

      The “violent protests” and subsequent media coverage some photo shopped is being tactically deployed to support further restrictions on our liberty. (police state). It also serves to dissuade those who may consider protesting thus keeping the cattle in line.

      If you focus on racial or ideological stereotypes all provided by the PTB for your consumption and bewilderment then you will never understand the nature of your reality and will forever be in thrall to the men behind the curtain doing their bidding like a trained seal.

  30. ” .. In the meantime, it’s up to all of us with an interest to shout it from the roof tops. ..”
    Wouldn’t advise that. You’ll get an ASBO.

    So..o..ooo. If anything anyone (apart from the legislature) could actually do to either protest or counter this totalitarian power-grab will be by definition “illegal”, in a classic Catch-22, the implications are quite clear.

    • Our cowardice and complicity is what they are looking for. The genuine power lies with us – our labour, our numbers. The attitude that cows to this state bullying is what we need to avoid. Will there be consequences to opposition? Yes. Are they worse than the consequences of complicity? No.

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