Crime,  Law,  Privacy

Civil Liberty stabbed in the back

According to a report in The Daily Mail, the Metropolitan Police in London are setting up mobile metal detectors for surprise scans of citizens in alleyways in Central London. The project was launched in Soho yesterday. This is an unacceptable violation of civil liberties to which the people of the United Kingdom have not consented. The right to go about one’s business untroubled by the law is a basic civil liberty for which the only exception can reasonably be that police have a reasonable suspicion to interfere with your person.

In the picture above from The Daily Mail story, well-dressed middle-aged office workers can be seen being herded through this Orwellian device.

To make matters worse, it is reported, officers lay in wait to ambush anyone who appeared to turn around rather than subject themselves to this intrusion.

The object of the exercise obviously was to tick demographic boxes so that an equal number of elderly women, middle-aged men in business suits, and Soho hipsters can be said to have been stopped compared to the gangstas in hoodies (not that many converge on Soho to begin with). Complaining about the quota-meeting farce is one thing, but the real offence here is that this will do absolutely nothing to reduce knife crime.

Knife crime, it is plain to see even to gangsters themselves, is a problem of gangs. It has nothing to do with the political football of cuts in police numbers, and everything to do with the lack of political will to tackle the gangs of London because it is a political hot potato: almost all the murders are gang-related and almost all the perpetrators and victims are black, and particularly because the escalation of violence is linked to immigration. Even the gang members say so. In an interview with the Evening Standard, a gang enforcer named only as “Wayne” explained:

“In the last 10 years, since the Somalis and the Congolese came to London, they taught us a whole new level of violence,” he said.

Who wants to grapple with this? Who wants to point out than an influx of youths from societies where ultra-violence is normal might be changing the culture here in London and other British cities? No, it is easier to pretend the problem has something to do with police numbers, or police visibility – as if these jaded youth give a hoot about a few more bobbies on the beat. And as for those deluded fools who think that “more youth services” is the answer – as if some new dart boards and pool tables at the youth centre can compete with tax-free earnings of £100 a day or more, for a low-end role in a drug gang. Get real! It’s about business, not boredom.

So this latest stunt is a PR exercise and nothing more. Well, ‘nothing more’ isn’t quite right because it is a PR exercise at the cost of one of our most basic civil liberties: the right to go about our business unmolested unless a police officer has genuine reasonable grounds to stop and search us. That is what the law of the United Kingdom holds, and is right to hold because it is not a police state.

But lately the police seem to be doing everything beyond their power to give us the opposite impression.