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Slightly worrying headline - but on reading the article thoroughly I see that what Dominic is proposing will help the Police cut down on the hours of paperwork and get back out onto the streets catching criminals which is what they should be doing. This has to be a good thing!

Bring back David Davis! Of course the police should be easily able to do overt operations - patrol, watch premises and conduct visual surveillance - without filling in a tome.

But use covert video or listening devices without so much as a by-your-leave? I only hope the Guardian got this wrong. That would be another step to a police state.

David Davis where art thou? An attack on the right to bail and now ever closer surveillance?

What’s on the menu tomorrow? 42 Days?

Good, good, good.

I'm glad Mr Grieve has remembered we are the party of law and order.

I look forward to the usual suspects on this site complaining that this is the beginning of a police state.


If they have evidence against people then by all means let them go on with the job. Isn't that what effective police work is all about?

Bureaucracy isnt a problem in itself. Without it the country couldnt run. The problem is excessive bureaucracy. Grieve doesnt quite hit the mark for me. Theres good reason why bureaucracy is in place restricting the use of covert surveillance and we should not abolish it lightly. Im not convinced this will work in practice. I recall recently theres been public anger over the excessive use of terrorism legislation for non terrorist offences. I suspect the Tories are falling into that very trap.

seems logical to me, but with the proviso that installation of covert equipment should be revealed in court in all cases where it is used, so we can get a handle on how regularly it's used, and that authorization is from an officer of inspector or above rank. Other than those, let's get the crims.

It should be hard but simple to covertly watch people - and these changes should go hand in hand with removing all such powers from those who do not need them - particularly local councils.

"I'm glad Mr Grieve has remembered we are the party of law and order.

I look forward to the usual suspects on this site complaining that this is the beginning of a police state."

Have very confusing it must be for you to come across those of us who believe in both capital and corporal punishment for convicted criminals but don't like the police being given excessive powers.

On a different note, I wasn't aware the police needed permission to patrol in uniform or plain clothes.

The problem with `automatic rights` is that they are very unlikely to be subjected to reasonable controls. This in turn might well see the exploitation, and then perversion, of such rights so as to obtain `a result.` If, as seems entirely possible, the collection of evidence in an unrestrained way can be used to obtain convictions, there must always be doubt as to its validity. Will this in turn open the way to an increase in legal appeals, thus clogging up the courts to an even greater extent than is now the case. Surely the collection of evidence by covert means would still be better justified if it carried the imprimatur of an independent legal authority such as a judge or stipendary magistrate. What is more important - conviction rates or justice?

The problem with granting the police additional powers to operate, is that the jobsworths elsewhere will demnand a bite of the legislation. We have already seen this with RIPA and the "misuse" of the Prevention of Terrorisn Act 2000.
Everybody will then cite "Human Rights" to restrict police powers, unless they are part of a general increase in the authoritarian state.
It is quite clear that the adoption of European Human Rights policy has driven a horse and cart through our legal system, many of its parts are an alien concept, Napoleonic and totalitarian based, rather than our evolved system, which is far superior. Do we really need a "Bill of Rights", we know our rights, we are free people, who have yielded some freedoms to the centre, who are now hell bent on en-slaving us to the state apparatus. Less government, more local democracy; less laws, more freedom; better policing and application of law towards all malefactors; less human rights more social responsibility.

"I look forward to the usual suspects on this site complaining that this is the beginning of a police state."

LOL! As Dr Goebbels used to say: Those who have nothing to hide, have nothing to fear.

Cut the council tax. That should stop the spendthrifts wasting OUR money on non essentials. Those that continue to waste public money should be fired.

Jennifer Wells, how heartily I agree with you on this particular issue!!

I think there is something interesting about the minds of the conspiracy theorist and I think often (but perhaps not always?) it is about thinking of oneself as the underdog? Those who get hot under the collar about surveillance of any kind are invariably those who fear its use against THEM (and not necessarily because they have something to hide). They feel themselves to be the "little people" up against the might of the State, The EU, The Bildebergers, The Lizards, The Illuminati or whatever happens to be the Big Bad Bogeyman on this particular occasion! The truth is that some surveillance can be a force for evil - it just depends who is doing it. As far as I am concerned, if the British Police get better equipment to enable them to do their job then so much the better.


I have a feeling that there is more to this than the thread and Guardian article suggests.

Surely police have always done four of these activities?

- Watch premises to identify or arrest suspects.

- Conduct visual surveillance of public locations.

- Patrol, in uniform or plain clothes.

- Conduct surveillance using visible CCTV cameras (with the permission of the camera owners)

So is this just removing bureaucracy put in place by the Labour Government?

Of the other two what does Grieve mean by automatic? Without the permission of the owners of the premises/property/vehicle when that person is not a suspect?

A more detailed explanation is required I think. Otherwise Dominic Grieve might end up being unfairly viewed.

Perhaps a view from a source less slanted than the Guardian?

One big advantage of having the NHS database of personal medical records is that that the Police - and probably many security workers too - will be be able to dip in to check on everyone's medical history, which could save a lot of time. But it now looks as though a ruling by the interfering European Court of Human Rights could render the NHS database unlawful:

"The NHS database could be unlawful under European human rights laws, campaigners have warned. The European Court of Human Rights ruled that the rights of a Finnish nurse were breached when her colleagues accessed her medical records."

Mind you, GPs in Britain have been worrying for some time about the NHS database compromising patient confidentiality but larger issues are at stake:

Brilliant! I am a Police Officer endlessly frustrated by the lunacy of RIPA and the Human Rights Act. At present we can't follow or conduct observations on known criminals without loads of form filling which you then have to get past over anxious supervisory officers who never leave the station as they work on their next PC gimmick or massaging the figures to get them promoted. David Davis is a pratt, he put many bobbies off the torys with his hairbrained ideas about civil liberties and ridiculous waste of public money with the pointless by-election. Greive is far better and these are excellent proposals to get us back to common sense policing

I'm not sure I understand what Mr Grieve proposes. Does the proposed automatic right for police to "use covert video or listening devices in premises or vehicles" give them carte blanche to bug my home and car? If so, it's an utterly unacceptable proposal that shouldn't belong anywhere near any party which considers itself a friend to civilisation.

Grieve is then quoted as saying: "It is not right that we charge our police with combating crime and disorder and then tie their hands behind their backs in the name of Whitehall bureaucracy." If he really said that (or wrote it in a press release) then he's a dangerous idiot: it is absolutely of the essence of our society that the democratic political process delineates the limits of the use of state powers against the individual.

Well, we'll see how this one runs. If Grieve is, in fact, coming out as (yet another) centralizing authoritarian pol anxious to auction off my civil liberties to the nearest baying mob, he can (obviously) kiss goodbye to my vote.

It also means there's still not a major political party willing to stand up for liberty. The shame of it. . .

'But use covert video or listening devices without so much as a by-your-leave? I only hope the Guardian got this wrong. That would be another step to a police state.'

Posted by: Lindsay Jenkins

Let's hope indeed.

I'm sure that can't be right.

Ricky, if you're a police officer then I'm the King of Sweden.

Dave, or should I say your Majesty Carl Gustav?, I am sure that Ricky might very well be a Police Officer - why do you assume he isn't?

Good post by Jennifer Wells | August 12, 2008 at 09:31. I too am yawning (it must be catching)
Good Griefe! I mean Grieve. So the Toties (a typo, but it seems appropriate so I will leave it in) are actually going to suggest something sensible about tackling crime (although the one about letting police patrol in uniform or plain clothes is hilarious). Get rid of the Inhuman Rights Act and we will be on the way to winning.

I note that one commenter, stating that he is a police officer, describes David Davis as being a "prat": which goes to show that the police are not always wrong - (if he wasn't one he would have been the leader of the Toties at some time or other in the past, but not now - he has had had it).

"I look forward to the usual suspects on this site complaining that this is the beginning of a police state."
LOL! As Dr Goebbels used to say: Those who have nothing to hide, have nothing to fear.
Posted by: Bob B | August 12, 2008 at 10:49

Are you implying that Grieve is Goebbels?
If so would that make Cameron Hitler?

I think I have had enough for one day - I feel another yawn coming on. So it is Heil Hitler! Or should it be Heil Cameron? (I think a little dirty moustache would suit Dave - give him gravitas - and raising the right arm in salute is always good for the circulation (Brown does it all the time with just two fingers)

And now, back to the Olympics and reality. Heil Cameron! Fancy letting police patrol in uniform or plain clothes, diabolical - whatever next? Bring on the police state and see Bobbies patrolling. Its surreal! LOL! (Whatever LOL means to you, too, with knobs on, Bob B)

I can't believe that any thoughtful Conservative is watching the Olympics, that useful weapon of dictatorships (1936, 1980...2008). This time Russia has tried to take advantage by attacking another country even though it's not even the host. Disgraceful that the BBC should spend money on screening such nonsense and yet no longer screens home Test Matches!

Back on the point - this thread seems an example of everyone commenting on a half understood news story. As others have said, most of it seems amazing they don't have powers to do it already (so it's just a reduction in bureaucracy measure) and part seems so sweeping as to be very unlikely that Grieve is actually saying it (automatic right to use covert listening devices in premises. Why, when telephone tapping is so controlled? Arguably it's even more intrusive.)

So I think we should pause and find out what he is actually saying before we rush to judgement.

Some of these postings are, alas, missing the point.

It is one thing talking about enabling surveillance and cuting out bureaucracy.

It is another to permit surveillance without safeguards based on reasonable suspicion (and to rule out surveillance that is disproportionate, vexatious or of a purely 'political' nature).

Get the safeguards right, you have better security. Get them wrong and you move towards the police state.

I look forward to seeing what Mr Grieve actually says - it doesn't seem to be on conservatives.com yet.

"As Dr Goebbels used to say: Those who have nothing to hide, have nothing to fear."

Someone better versed in the history of political extremism tells me that Dr Goebbels was quoting Robespierre.

Among Robespierre's several contributions to political discourse was his commitment to creating a more virtuous society. Who among his detractors could possibly have disagreed with that elevated aim?

Of course, critics inclined to rumble what was going on tended to take a brief journey on a tumbril to a predictable destination:

It happens that my medical records are very untoward and even dull but that is not true for everyone.

Employers, colleagues competing for promotion and insurance companies could be very interested in medical records.

Btw never mind the Guardian as a source, Mr Grieve on police surveillance is also report here:

The Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act has brought great misery into the lives of many people by permitting, for example, local authorities to employ covert means of surveillance as part of a routine part of their school admissions procedures.

Why is it that parents are being prevented from taking photographs of their children taking part in school sports days, whilst the local council's CCTV van can park on a paved area opposite a school filming every child as they enter a school?

IMHO a party committed to restoring traditional English values of freedom should be wanting to abolish RIPA, not enhance it.

I cannot support Dominic Grieve's call for even greater state intrusion into the lives of our citizens. Indeed, I am not wholly convinced that he has thought through the implications of his comments and suspect that he has either been badly advised or that his reported remarks have been edited or taken out of context.

Is Mr Grieve for allowing RIPA outside the Police? This is something I did mot quite latch onto.
My position is allow police, under permission of judges to exercise surveillance\tapping\interceptions warrants, but any evidence gathered under those warrants must be disclosed in court and the origin made clear. Here in UK, not welcome idea, but in many other democratic nations, quite acceptable. Do not fully understand UK specific objections.
RIPA to councils etc is too open to abuse, especially without recourse to the judiciary. This I oppose. Police work is in the main boring, and so in the main are intercept duties, but training in the rules of evidence lets you accept that. Coming from the background of "I wanna play" without that rigour of the rules of evidence is likely to be overly intrusive and in the end counter-productive.

At the very least Mr Grieve's reported suggestions are obtuse in an area in which clarity is crucial. He should explain himself as soon as possible, and as clearly as possible.

'My position is allow police, under permission of judges to exercise surveillance\tapping\interceptions warrants, but any evidence gathered under those warrants must be disclosed in court and the origin made clear.'


It's suprising that this isn't the case already, but apparently it isn't.

Oh well, let's hope that's what he meant.

Allowing a policeman to put anybody he fancied under surveillance on a whim is the sort of thing you'd expect from Labour.

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