Police have been handed 'Chinese-style' powers to enter private homes and seize political posters during the London 2012 Olympics.What?! Why…?
Little-noticed measures passed by the Government will allow officers and Olympics officials to enter homes and shops near official venues to confiscate any protest material.
Well, it’s all down to legislation designed to allow the all-important advertisers to be able to swoop on illegal threats to their cashflow. And, as usual, badly drafted and allowing extensive overreach:
The powers were introduced by the Olympics Act of 2006, passed by the Department for Culture, Media and Sport, supposedly to preserve the monopoly of official advertisers on the London 2012 site.I would say it’s just a mistake and not a plan to allow the police these powers for nefarious intent, but we all remember Walter Wolfgang, don’t we?
They would allow advertising posters or hoardings placed in shop or home to be removed.
But the law has been drawn so widely that it also includes 'non-commercial material' - which could extend its reach to include legitimate campaign literature.
And how handy those terrorism powers came in when it came to shutting up dissent at the Labour Conference…
Shadow Home Secretary Chris Grayling said: 'This is a Government who just doesn't understand civil liberties. They may claim these powers won't be used but the frank truth is no one will believe them.'They understand them just fine. They simply don’t believe that we should have them…
Liberal Democrat spokesman Chris Huhne said: 'This sort of police action runs the risk of using a sledgehammer to crack a nut. 'We should aim to show the Chinese that you can run a successful Olympics without cracking down on protestors and free speech.'We should aim to show that we can run a successful Olympics for lots of reasons (if we can’t get rid of the damn thing!) but not just to show up the Chinese, surely…?
Scotland Yard denied it had any plans to use the powers.I’m sure you don’t.
Assistant Commissioner Chris Allison said: 'We have no intention of using our powers to go in and take down demonstration posters.'
I’m also sure you never had the intention to use the terrorism powers the way you did, but you did, didn’t you?
But critics said that - given the powers were now law - it was impossible to predict what would happen in three years time.It’s quite appalling that it should happen anywhere, frankly. It’s just additionally surprising that it should happen here.
Campaigners said the existence of the powers was 'dreadful'. Peter McNeil, who is against the holding of equestrian events in Greenwich Park said: 'It's bullying taken to another level. It's quite appalling that this should happen in a democracy.'
Well, it is, if you haven’t been paying attention over the last decade or so….