Sunday, 14 December 2008

On the Damian Green case and the need for Police Reform

The news today that the case against Damian Green is likely to be dropped - see here and here - allows me to comment (belatedly) on this misconceived move by the police.

Now the political class fully realise what many of us have known for ages. The police are simply arrest-happy, and they can arrest and detain at will.

An arrest, of course, can be a humiliating act of some force; it is often, in effect, an assault which the police can freely do to a citizen without facing any real redress. The subsequent detention is similarly beyond real challenge, even if there is then a release without charge.

The police will also take DNA, even forcibly, which they retain - again, even if there is no charge. Thankfully, the European Court on Human Rights is challenging this, even though our courts meekly nodded - see here.

The police powers of arrest have widened dramatically under the Labour government. For example, the important distinction between arrestable and non-arrestable offences was quietly abolished in 2006 (see here). There are many other examples.

This growth of police power without accountability is growing and should be checked. There was no reason on the facts to arrest Damian Green. However, the police are now just so used to arresting at will, they probably didn't give it a second thought. The political reaction must have come as a sharp shock.

Perhaps this arrest can lead the Conservatives into taking Police Reform seriously. The police are the last unreformed institution of the state and, after a decade of Labour legislative complicity, they are more in need of reform than ever.

This Blog will continue to press for Police Reform to be taken seriously.


marmitelover said...

As you might know, my 14 year old daughter was arrested a week ago for partaking in smoking a spliff. Yes this is illegal but it was a first time offence and she is a kid.
The policeman that arrested her, admitted to me that he was a big dope smoker at 13.
Now my daughter has her DNA, fingerprints and photo on the police database for ever.
I find this rather disturbing.
I think her arrest and caution were an extreme reaction by the police.
They seem to be arresting young people in greater numbers for very minor misdemeanors. I believe that they are doing this deliberately to create, unofficial, a biometric database of the population, particularly the next generation.

Northernsoul said...

Your daughter was caught taking an illegal substance and has been given a slap on the wrist. Be grateful, maybe (just maybe) she won't do it again.

marmitelover said...

Northern Soul you clearly do not understand what I have written.
My issue is not with the slap on the wrist, it's with the fact that a 14 year old school girl now has her DNA etc stored forever.

Northernsoul said...

Then perhaps I don't understand, why is this of concern?