Most people have a mistaken idea of what a police state is and how to recognise it. They think it’s about policemen stomping around in jackboots, beating people up at will and running their own protection rackets. But it’s much more subtle than that.
A police state is one in which the role of the police is not neutral, applying the law equitably to all people in all circumstances, but that of a proactive force defending the status quo. That is stage 1. At stage 2, the police force becomes the enforcer of government policy and the ideology behind it, applying the law selectively and blurring the distinction between what is law and what is not; and at stage 3, the role of the police is essentially that of pursuing its own agenda.
The Soviet Union was a full-blown stage 3 police state, with the KGB grooming their own candidates for the presidency. England is not there yet; but the signs are that the police are well into stage 2.
I came across this small notice in Dover in January 2007. What this means is that consuming alcohol in the street is not an offence, but a copper can decide that it is. And if that happens, and if you object, your fingerprints, ADN and retina image go on record for life. So was this important information displayed prominently? No, it was on a 50x20cm sign, 3m above the ground, on the end wall of the main shopping street. Yet the importance of the principle involved cannot be overstated.
Since February 2013 the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC — not to be confused with the climate wallahs) has been trying to get the Met to hand over documents pertaining to eighteen cases of alleged abuse of the Schedule 7 powers (part of the 2000 Terrorism Act). After six months of polite requests and much evasive dragging of feet, the IPCC finally gave the Met an ultimatum: hand over the documents within a week or face prosecution. That was on August 25. The Met replied archly that they would think about it and the whole thing has since gone off the radar.
Now comes this little gem:
We assess that Miranda is knowingly carrying material, the release of which would endanger people’s lives. Additionally the disclosure or threat of disclosure is designed to influence a government, and is made for the purpose of promoting a political or ideological cause. This therefore falls within the definition of terrorism and as such we request that the subject is examined under schedule 7. [My emphasis]
This, it turns out, was part of the reasoning used by the Met to justifiy the detention of David Miranda under that same Schedule 7. And apparently it was judged to be appropriate. (Er… by whom, I wonder? the Home Office?)
Sinister? Chilling? You’d better believe it.