We currently live in unprecedented times of course but, we also live at a time of renewed enlightenment. Now that most of us are not rushing about everywhere with barely a moment to think, we now have that luxury to notice things previously unnoticed - and to ponder - on anything. It is similar to being on extended holiday- not that I’ve personally had one - except, for some this delivers real hardship due to a shortage of income. And that is another story - for another day. What I and others have noticed, in particular, is this. It seems almost daily we are discovering more and more about what’s wrong with our society. For example, we are seeing infringements on free speech, something few of us would have thought possible in this society of ours. Of equal concern, we have also seen how the police have seemingly taken it upon themselves, not only to interpret the law incorrectly but also, to extend that law on their own say so. Take today… I am talking about our freedom of movement. Attached is a photo of notices pinned up by the Avon and Somerset Constabulary in quiet country spots in the Cotswolds near to Tetbury. The message is wrong or, shall I say, out of step with what is published by government, the BBC [often nearly the same], but more importantly, the NPCC [National Police Chiefs Council]. The NPCC advice was published because the constabularies were over-stepping the mark. It seems the police are relishing the idea of policing in a dictatorial manner - not seen before - and very much liking it. The Police Notice says: Government restrictions DO NOT permit you to use your car to travel to this place. You are entitled to exercise once daily. You should not be driving to a location away from home to carry this out. The NPCC advice says: It is considered reasonable – Driving to the countryside and walking Exercising more than once per day is reasonable. The Police Notice says: Each and everyone one of us has been instructed to avoid ALL UNNECESSARY TRAVEL The NPCC advice says: Suggestions that the public could only leave their homes if ‘essential’ is wrong. There is no legal basis for a requirement in those terms to be imposed. We won’t forget the over-zealous recent police actions captured by the Peoples’ Alternative Media. 1. Police putting black dye into the Blue Lagoon in the Peak District to discourage swimmers 2. Police using drones in open spaces in the Dales to spy on escapees from their homes 3. Police ordering a family back into their home from their own front garden These are rather strange, if not quietly amusing stories. But they are not the only ones and they do give an indication of the lengths our police will now go to, to exercise what they see, mistakenly, as their new powers in lockdown. We won’t forget either Nick Adderley – Northamptonshire Chief Constable. He had to back track on his comment that his officers might be asked to check people’s supermarket trolleys for non-essential items - kitchen paint etc. The Home Secretary had to jump on this comment and saying, “that was not appropriate and was not the guidance”. This point was reinforced by former Justice Secretary, David Gauke, who described Nick Addeley’s threat as revealing worrying and unacceptable authoritarian instincts. False information and guidance, or heavy handedness, is not something which any healthy society should tolerate. The above examples are seen here as somewhat worrying. The danger for us all, is that we could blindly sleepwalk ourselves into a creeping police type state, which none of us, I think, would either desire or accept, without sufficient need or justification. Currently, there is neither. Lord Sumption recently reminded us that the police are citizens in uniform, thus not separate from all other citizens. The Home Office document on the subject of Policing by Consent is worth a read. From my personal experience over the last 5weeks of the lock-down, I have not witnessed at any time any stupid or careless acts by anyone that would suggest - that all of us are so uninformed or so unwise that we require a heavy hand from anyone. The antidote to this potential danger, right now, is simply awareness. Be aware of what to do and not to do, overlaid with personal intelligence and responsibility. Also, be prepared to challenge what you think is wrong. That includes this very personal viewpoint published here.
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