We recently took the decision that the Convention should have a session on the Police. Many people in this country report a feeling that the police have become increasingly politicized and unaccountable. It’s not just high-profile cases like De Menezes and Damian Green that conjure the terrifying spectre of a police state; it’s the bullying and harrassment experienced by people exercisising their fundamental right to protest or simply going about their daily business.
Two articles today demonstrate precisely why we need a serious public debate on the powers of the police and how they can be brought under control. The first is by Convention Co-Director Henry Porter and appears in the Guardian online. Henry recounts some extraordinary examples of anti-terror powers being used by the police to harass people taking pictures in public places. The second, by Peter Hitchens, appears in the Daily Mail. Hitchens describes an encounter with jack-booted riot police as he passed a group of protestors yesterday outside the Israeli embassy on his way home from work. “It’s not debateable” they apparently barked at Hitchens as he pleaded to be allowed to walk by on the pavement undisturbed. Well, officers, I’m afraid that at this Convention it very much is.