I’ve been thinking lately that perhaps it is time we faced facts. Many illegal and undesirable things are sent through the post. There are letters making fraudulent offers, there are unauthorised photocopies of books, there are letters containing slanderous gossip, and, in extreme cases, letter-bombs.
Is it not time we granted the Royal Mail the right to open letters and inspect them before delivery. More than a right, let’s make it a positive duty so that we’re sure the task is undertaken. With all the technological advances in sorting and delivery since postal delivery to the public began in 1635, it shouldn’ be hard to find the time and space to open up packets and inspect them for illegal contents.
Members of the public who receive illegal items could be punished. Perhaps a three-strikes system where after three notifications by Royal Mail of questionable packages, they could suspend mail delivery to your address. For more serious breaches – say an unauthorised photocopy of galley-proofs of the new Harry Potter book – the recipient could face a stiff fine or a term in prison.
To make sure this necessary protection of post and parcel traffic is undertaken, the law would apply equally to Fedex, UPS and other carriers, all of whom could have their licenses suspended if they failed to take adequate steps to monitor the contents of envelopes and boxes going through their sorting offices and being delivered by their networks.
I also think that the reasonable person on the street would accept that there are some minor privacy issues, but that this is a small price to pay if crimes can be prevented.
It’s an idea – nay, an imperative and an urgency – whose time has come. I urge everyone to lobby their MPs to bring this important and necessary change in our postal culture into being. If you’re concerned about privacy, come off it, admit it, you must have something to hide.