Monday, May 21, 2007

Welcome To The New Regime

There is a recommendation being circulated at Westminster that any public official who *thinks* that someone is likely to become a violent criminal should immediately inform the police. While this does seem initially a sensible idea, how does one define who will become a threat?

If you happened to deal with, for example, the Housing Benefits department of Enfield Borough Council and had to wait 12 weeks for them to send you any money that you needed in order to pay your rent and therefore have somewhere to live, you might get a bit annoyed whenever you had to deal with the incredible amounts of ineptitude that can sometimes be displayed by council officials.

So if you were to get a bit shouty at one of them, nothing personal directed at the official, but just born of the frustration of the system, and that same official has had three or four previous people shout at them, there's a fair chance they might just go "that bloke is likely to become violent towards me", and suddenly the police are informed that you are a threat to society as a whole.

Now, just from that one Housing Office, there could be hundreds of potential threats raised each month. Who is going to look at all these files and decide whether you are or aren't an actual threat? What happens to you if you are put on some meta-list of potential offenders? Who gets to see this list? What appeals process do you have if you're put on this list? Remembering of course that you haven't *actually* done anything or even necessarily *threatened* to do anything.

This seems to be just one step away from the favoured trick of the secret police in Communist-era Eastern Bloc countries and Nazi Germany where people were actually encouraged to inform on neighbours who they thought were acting suspiciously.

And to quote the old adage, who will stand up for you when you're taken away if everyone else has already been taken?

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Blogger Mia said...

I think BT might well have informed the authorities about me earlier today. Bloody idiots.


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