THE TORY rush towards creating a police state controlled directly by the government has even got the chief constables and Police and Crime Commissioners (PCCs) up in arms and accusing Home Secretary Priti Patel of a ‘power grab’.
The Guardian newspaper yesterday revealed that ‘an extraordinary row has broken out behind the scenes, with police bosses accusing Patel of trying to obtain new powers without parliamentary approval.’
The new protocols that Patel is seeking to impose will give her powers to intervene in policing measures taken locally, and make police chiefs and PCC’s directly answerable to her.
One chief constable is reported as calling these plans ‘profoundly dangerous’ and a ‘power grab threatening operational independence’, while Police and Crime Commissioners described some of the proposals as ‘ultra vires’, which means they go beyond the legal authority of the Home Secretary.
Riding roughshod over the law is the hallmark of this Tory government led by convicted criminal Boris Johnson, who this week, declared ‘war’ on lawyers who had the audacity to challenge in the courts the legality of sending 50 asylum seekers on a one-way ticket to Rwanda.
The protocols that Patel is determined to rip up were introduced by the Tory government in 2012.
It was a part of a ‘decentralisation’ plan designed to give the impression that the police forces in England had a degree of autonomy and were responsive to their local communities.
Now, even this façade of ‘community policing’ will be shredded as the Tories prepare to return to a national police force acting under strict instruction from Whitehall.
In 2014, Sir Peter Fahy, then Chief Constable of Greater Manchester, warned of a ‘drift towards a police state’ in a press interview. Fahy expressed fears that the police were being turned into ‘thought police’ having to decide on the ground what constituted free speech and what amounted to inflammatory, extremist speeches that would lead to police arrests.
Patel is now resolving the problem that plagued Fahy – the Tories will alone decide what is legal and what is not, without regard to the law or any concerns over public order by local police bosses and PCCs.
A police state under a national police force taking orders directly from, and answerable only to, the Tory government is to be used to wage war on the working class and young people who are refusing to accept paying the price for the capitalist crisis and the imperialist war on Russia.
Along with plans for a national state controlled police force, Patel yesterday announced that the Tories are lifting any restrictions on police stop and search powers in areas where ‘violent crime’ is anticipated.
Under her plans, police will have the absolute right to stop and search anyone even if there is no suspicion of criminal or violent intent.
The length of time that these powers can be enforced has been increased to 48 hours, and the police rank necessary to authorise their deployment has been lowered to inspector.
The local communities in these designated areas will no longer be informed in advance.
This is a recipe for the police sweeping down unannounced, stopping, searching and intimidating any young person or worker they like under the pretext that violence ‘may’ occur.
In last week’s Queens Speech the Tories made clear their intention to increase the powers of the police to arrest and disperse demonstrations, break up pickets and declare illegal any strike that threatens the ‘national infrastructure’, at the same time attempting to intimidate and control youth rising up against a system that offers them nothing but a future of poverty.
This is a desperate act by a desperate Tory government that is collapsing by the day, and is now forced to rely on a police state to keep it in power.
The working class must act to put an end to these police state plans by putting an end to this Tory government and the bankrupt capitalist system it serves.
The TUC national demonstration on June 18 must be turned into an indefinite general strike to kick out the Tories and bring in a workers government and socialism. This is the way forward.