Passengers who buy a London train or tube ticket would automatically be giving their consent to be searched, under proposals now under consideration.Why? Well, it’s because of ‘knife crime’, naturally.
Senior British Transport police officials told MPs today that they wanted to change the railways' "conditions of carriage" to close a loophole that means officers using mobile knife-detecting arches at stations have no legal power to search someone who sets them off unless they have a reasonable suspicion that they are breaking the law.In other words, you need the same ‘reasonable suspicion’ to search passengers on the Tube as you do everyone else in the street. How infuriating for you! And the metal detector going off isn’t reasonable suspicion, since it can be set off by harmless things too.
So, bit pointless having these arches, is it? Well, no:
Assistant Chief Constable Paul Crowther of British Transport police told the Commons home affairs select committee that, as the law stood, it often made more sense to search passengers who deliberately avoided going through the arches.In other words, avoidance of the arch gives the reasonable suspicion to search.
You’d think that would satisfy them – after all, what’s the percentage of positive detector indications that then refuse to be searched? We aren’t told. So, no idea if it’s a problem or not. And we don’t just change our laws to suit the convenience of the police.
Well, we never used to.
Crowther told MPs the issue had arisen since 100 mobile search arches were deployed at railway stations and other crowded public places as part of the drive against knife crime.Where’s the debate then? You’ve just told this committee what you want!
"We want to conduct these measures with the support of the public and the community," he told journalists today. "I think we would need to engage in debate about whether there was an appetite for that and whether people saw it as reasonable and proportionate."
I for one don’t see it as ‘reasonable and proportionate’, mainly because it will, almost certainly, be abused.
The transport police chief told MPs they could currently use the arches only to scan people who volunteered to go through them, unless they had a reasonable suspicion the travellers were breaking the law. Police codes of practice ban voluntary searches.Does that really say what I think it says?
"In effect, a suspect may not be searched, even where consent is provided, in an absence of 'reasonable suspicion'; a procedural stumbling block to the unfettered use of knife arches," said transport police evidence to the MPs' inquiry into knife crime.
In other words, these knife scanners are just a massive publicity drive with little effect because there’s no legal basis for them?
"An exception to the procedural prohibition on the conduct of voluntary searches, however, is where submission to examination is a condition of entry to a named premises of a specific location. In relation to policing the railways, one [possibility] may be to have as a condition of carriage, when people purchase a ticket, that they agree to being searched."Or you could rethink the whole costly and inefficient scanner arch idea, and not rely on the ‘blanket search’ method merely so you cannot be accused of singling out the types (mostly young men) that are likely to carry knives?
And you can walk straight through the arches with a ceramic knife which you can buy in any department store.
I rather imagine the criminal fraternity have known this for years.
So. Yes. It's security theater leading to loss of essential liberties.
It is just another example of police making things more complicated than they need to. Rather like much criminal legislation that has been introduced by Labour since 1997 that was completely unnecessary had existing laws been used properly and the courts applied the sentences attached.
Common sense discretion has been almost completely removed from the individual constable, and that was very important, its removal one of the causes of the canyon like rift between police and public.
Police are now simply target driven automatons.
This discussion is about the police NOT having to justify their searches and do all that stupid post Macpherson paperwork.
An experienced constable (well to be honest you don't have to be that experienced in terms of time in the job in some parts of the UK) could use his/her discretion to make a proper judgement on who to search, unfortunately that falls foul of the PC racial stereotyping thingy. Reasonable suspicion can arise through all sorts of observed behaviour and can reasonably justified. I don't know why these ACPO types have to support this nonsense (well I do really).
What tube stations and neighbourhoods need are regular patrolling police officers (not racial recruitment quota PCSOs) the backing of their higher managers, the backing of the courts and an end to government micromanaging and intereference. They don't need all this technological paraphernalia and the continual erosion of civil rights.
"Keith Vaz...said he preferred to see measures that tackled the underlying causes of gang culture rather than another method of simply containing the problem."
Let me guess - the "underlying causes" Keith thinks cause gang culture aren't the actual underlying causes, but a load of Leftist bollocks about racism.
"I rather imagine the criminal fraternity have known this for years."
Yup. About as much use as those mini-tanks stationed outside the airports a few years ago, when Tony 'I'm a Pretty Straight Kinda Guy' Blair wanted to look on top of things.
"What tube stations and neighbourhoods need are regular patrolling police officers (not racial recruitment quota PCSOs) the backing of their higher managers, the backing of the courts and an end to government micromanaging and intereference."
Indeed. I can't see any political party (that stands a chance of being elected) offering that though. The best we can hope for is that Call-Me-Dave won't be any worse...
"Let me guess - the "underlying causes" Keith thinks cause gang culture aren't the actual underlying causes, but a load of Leftist bollocks about racism."
Of course. Not that 'racism' ever seems to have held him back...
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