The police, particularly in London, appear to have forgotten that they police only with our consent. They are not the armed wing of the state. Some reforms are therefore long overdue
Of the suggestions he lists, I have mixed feelings about this pair:
- Just as the storage of DNA from wholly innocent citizens is an outrage, so is the routine video-ing of members of the public by police officers. This must stop.
- In contrast, members of the public must never be prevented from recording the activities of police officers.
I recall a point made by the former pedant Cleanthes, commenting on my Notes for Michael, who cited Robert Peel’s principles for policing:
An agent of the state???? That, Robert, in one succint phrase is the most daming indictment of the damage that has been done to the ethos of the Police over the last few decades.
Read Peel’s Principles here. Especially no.7:
Police, at all times, should maintain a relationship with the public that gives reality to the historic tradition that the police are the public and the public are the police; the police being only members of the public who are paid to give full-time attention to duties which are incumbent on every citizen in the interests of community welfare and existence.
Libertarian Ian Parker-Joseph made a similar point in the comments to the CentreRight post.
On the issue of filming, it seems to me we can’t have it both ways. If the police are indeed simply citizens in uniform, then they surely have the same rights to film people in public, as the rest of the citizenry? If we are allowed to film them, surely they should be allowed to film us, no? Placing a different set of restrictions on the police on this issue would violate Peel’s principle.
And before anyone brings up CCTV, Cleanthes and I have already discussed the difference between automated and eyeball policing at The Select Society.