UK Police State Flexes Its Muscles on Motorists

Robert Farago
by Robert Farago
uk police state flexes its muscles on motorists

I am not a paranoid survivalist libertarian who constantly checks the horizon for black helicopters. (I only scan the skies for a few days after posting a General Motors Death Watch.) But, as a former U.K. resident alien, I’ve been following the erosion of civil rights and the concomitant rise of police power in Britain ever since the first speed cameras appeared in The Land of Hope and Glory. Between then and now, the right to remain silent has been abridged and the UK has become the world’s most surveilled nation. And now the reports that “Specialist Cleveland Police officers took part in a ground-breaking blitz against criminals using the region’s road networks. Officers from Teesside joined colleagues from six other UK forces and more than 20 other European countries [Italics added] to take part in Operation Orbit.” Six? Or seven? “A ring of steel was provided by seven police forces at locations on the ring-roads of York, mainly the A64 and the A1237,” revealed Sergeant Jason Wathes, leaders of the Cleveland Police Automatic Number Plate Recognition (ANPR) interception team. And the justification? “Sgt Wathes said the initial objective was to target thieves, drug-runners and those carrying weapons. But motorists driving without tax, insurance or otherwise disqualified were also stopped. ‘We know who the criminals are, but we can’t always secure prosecutions. But we can apply traffic legislation to target the criminals and disrupt them from using the roads.'” Oh, that’s alright then.

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  • Shaker Shaker on Oct 05, 2008

    I suppose that the barrier to such draconian enforcement has always been money - they couldn't afford to put that many cops on the streets. But now, technology puts the "police state" even closer to reality. Kind of reminds me of the two "robot cops" in the TV show Futurama; one is stupid, the other is a nightstick-wielding a-hole...

  • Voice of Sweden Voice of Sweden on Oct 05, 2008

    Let me tell you why so many countries in Europe like camera surveillance. The court and justice system is rigged in the criminals favour - it's very difficult to get anybody into jail - especially if there are not absolutely waterproof evidence. There are often no 100% laymen jury in the courts, no "Barry-Bobs" and "Marry-Sues" that are sure that that *racial slur describing a person* is guilty as h*ll. So to get the bad people into jail, a film of the event is very useful - therefore cameras are so much loved.

  • Tommy Yoo Tommy Yoo on Oct 05, 2008

    Guilty until proven innocent, once again.

  • Adonis Adonis on Oct 06, 2008

    I really don't like to see this, because I'm seeing the beginnings of that kind of universal surveillance in Phoenix, Arizona. Apparently it's the first city in the nation to really roll out extensive cameras everywhere. There were 50 new cameras put in just recently, explicitly to make money. As a side note, government officials say that speeding is dangerous, so these cameras are clearly necessary. Think of The Children (tm) and all that. I want to do what I can to make sure it fails, so other states don't get inspired by the amount of money they're making. However, I'm not sure how to do that. The government loves money, but people hate it when taxes go up (imagine that!), so there are imaginative new ways to fleece the average citizen of their money every year.