Friday, March 13, 2009

Petition against sweeping powers of arrest

Lib Dem Cambridge City councillor, Colin Rosenstiel, draws the following to our attention:

From: David Gilbertson
Sent: 04 March 2009 14:02
Subject: Excessive Powers of Arrest by Police - Petition to the Prime Minister

Dear Friends and Colleagues,

PLEASE READ ON, THIS IS NOT A 'SPAM' MESSAGE

Most people are unaware that in 2005 a fundamental change in police powers
was quietly passed into law; a change that directly affects the life and
liberty of you and every person in this country.

Section 110 of the Serious Organised Crime and Police Act 2005 was 'tacked
onto' an otherwise acceptable piece of legislation and allows ANY police
officer in England and Wales to arrest, (i.e. physically detain, handcuff
and take to a police station for a DNA sample), ANY person, for ANY
offence, no matter how trivial and whether or not a power of arrest
previously existed for that offence. People can now be, (and have been),
arrested and detained under Section 110 for not wearing a seatbelt;
dropping litter; shouting in the presence of a police officer, climbing a
tree, and building a snowman. Whereas police officers used to have to
justify every arrest and be aware of whether or not a particular piece of
legislation gave them power, they no longer have to do so. The power to
deprive someone of their liberty should only be exercised in the most
extreme circumstances, yet young and inexperienced police officers, (and
soon, PCSO's), are being trained that arrest and detention of a suspect is
the first option in most encounters with the public. This sweeping power
is being roundly abused on a daily basis in all of the 43 police forces in
this country and puts you, your wife, husband or partner, your children
and your friends at risk of arbitrary action by the police.

I spent 35 years of my adult life in the Police Service and am appalled by
what it has become, largely as a result of powers such as those granted
under Section 110.

Petitioning the Prime Minister will probably do little to stop the drift
of this country to what has been described as a 'Stasi State' but I would
nonetheless ask that you consider placing your signature on the petition -
if only to see how the government responds to genuine concern from
thoughtful citizens.

If you are sympathetic to this project, please forward this message and
link to other friends, colleagues or bodies concerned about civil
liberties.

The link to the petition is below:

http://petitions.number10.gov.uk/PowersofArrest/

Thank you,

David Gilbertson QPM
(formerly Assistant Inspector of Constabulary
Her Majesty's Inspectorate of Constabulary,
Home Office (retired 2001))

[There is also a Guardian article]
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