Sleepwalking further into Police State Britain as law offers new powers of repression


Scriptonite Daily has published a piece that everyone should read. It begins:

“The UK Government is about to pass legislation which will make any behaviour perceived to potentially ‘cause nuisance or annoyance’ a criminal offence. The Anti-Social Behaviour, Crime and Policing Bill also grants local authorities, police and even private security firms sweeping powers to bar citizens from assembling lawfully in public spaces. The Bill has successfully passed through the House of Commons without issue, and is now in the latter stages of review by the House of Lords, after which it will receive Royal Assent and become Law. Those who refuse orders under the new rules will face arrest, fines and even prison time.”

It seems to me that this legislation is being made partly to deal with concerns about section five of the Public Order Act. This, as stated in Vox Political‘s article last year, states, “(1) A person is guilty of an offence if he: (a) uses threatening, abusive or insulting words or behaviour, or disorderly behaviour, or (b) displays any writing, sign or other visible representation which is threatening, abusive or insulting, within the hearing or sight of a person likely to be caused harassment, alarm or distress thereby” – but only applies if a person has been the victim.

It could not be used if an organisation had been subjected to abuse – as was claimed, in this case of the Department for Work and Pensions. Now, it seems, a law is coming into force that can.

This is entirely unwarranted. Abuses of the Public Order Act have clearly demonstrated that the law needs to be relaxed, rather than tightened. Your freedom is being taken away from you, including your right to free speech.

It’s no surprise that this is going on even after this blog, and Scriptonite, and others (I’m sure) have pointed out the problem. We are tiny islands on the media map; most people only ever visit the continents that are the TV news and newspapers, which are happy to pander to their prejudices.

The Public Order Act, as Rowan Atkinson stated in his (should be) legendary Reform Section 5 speech, has led to several alarming exercises of power, “like the man arrested in Oxford for calling a police horse ‘gay’.”

The new Bill introduces Injunctions to Prevent Nuisance and Annoyance (IPNAs) to replace ASBOs, which were also widely abused. Scriptonite quotes some of these abuses, including:

“The ASBO has allowed the line between criminal behaviour and annoying behaviour to become hopelessly blurred – and the IPNAs will only serve to increase the problem,” says Scriptonite. “We have seen the abuses permitted under ASBO legislation, the test for which included wording to the effect that ASBOs could only be issued where an actual act of ‘harassment, alarm or distress’ had occurred. IPNAs have a much weaker test, applicable where on the ‘balance of probabilities’ a person has or might engage in behaviour ‘capable of causing annoyance’ to another person. How many times a day could this legislation apply to any of us? Eating with our mouths open, talking too loudly into our phones in a public space, walking too slowly or quickly or belching without saying ‘pardon me’. All of this may very well cause annoyance – but soon it might well also be illegal.”

More to the point: If you had a complaint against a government department – no matter whether it was justified – and you publicised it… wouldn’t that cause annoyance to them? Would it not cause them a nuisance?

And, considering the reaction to one woman’s complaint outlined in the VP article mentioned above, would this legislation not give ministers the power to lock you up for it?

This is not a law that should be passed. It is an attack on your freedom, and mine. It is a badge of repression, to be worn by our police as they continue their metamorphosis into symbols of the totalitarianism into which the UK is falling.

There is a petition against this. Please sign it before the law is passed and this document itself becomes a nuisance or annoyance.

I can find no better way to end this article than by paraphrasing what I said before: Police intimidation of those who speak out against injustice is not only an attack on free speech; it is an attack on the entire philosophy on which our society is based.

Next article: Bedroom Tax Tories: What they said and why they were wrong – covering the debate on the Bedroom Tax (or state under-occupation charge, but never spare room subsidy) in the House of Commons on November 12.

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84 thoughts on “Sleepwalking further into Police State Britain as law offers new powers of repression

  1. Big Bill

    I imagine this is how Grayling plans to fill the privately run workhouse superprisons he wants to build. Criminalise trivial behaviour and you’ll never have empty cells.

  2. Thomas

    Laws should be there to protect us. If there are too few, we have anarchy; if there are too many, we have dictatorship. Of course some things have to be illegal for everyone’s safety, but this country could become a dictatorship. Peaceful protest or going on strike could be annoying for some people. What is wrong with this government? Either they are too loose on things, or they are too strict. There seems to be no middle way for them.

    1. Jai Kobayaashi Gomer

      IMHO, the issue is how our laws are created : whether We, the People, can come together and craft a society which allows us maximum freedom and maximum safety, or whether we continue to allow the current party-political system to fool us into thinking that we are not worthy of making such decisions, and that the only way such decisions can be made is by self-interested party groups composed of a self-styled political elite. Once WE are in full control of how OUR laws are created in OUR country, we will be truly free…

  3. Stephen Jewell

    Cameron, Osbourne and IDS annoy me every time they open their mouths and they are the biggest nuisance I know, doubt very much that I could get a lawyer o take that on though.

  4. david caster

    well if it became law what the public should do is hammer the police phone lines for everything from smiling at someone to farting in the street, piss ’em right off with hundreds of thousands of calls

  5. Daijohn

    It must be the case that politicians cause nuisance and annoyance, let them be the first to be locked up.

  6. robert

    sorry tried to sign i think the government gremlins have got to your petition as soon as i try to insert my name it just reboots the page

    1. Dominique Payne

      Keep trying.

      HM petitions lie
      by Aura Hazel ~ Petition organiser
      The official petition site rejected the petition from their page, falsely claiming it already existed; it doesn’t, I looked before applying to put it up. This is clear censorship so lets show them what we can achieve here, put their lies to shame, and show how strong public feeling really is on this issue.

      1. Joe smith

        It’s no supprise, anything in any small way that even remotely may be contentious is somehow not listed. The Government knows how angry people are and do not want, especially this close an election any awkward or embarrassing questions asked or raised. This is cowardly undemocratic and typical of this Government. I think they’re running scared. They should because together we will wrest control from the self seeking immoral corrupt lying cheating scum who stole our democracy and condemned thousands to a life on the breadline. I live some 300 plus miles from parliament and can smell the corrupt stench of the scum.

  7. Marzia Nicodemi-Ehik (@MarziaNicodemiE)

    There is reference to a document dated 5 May 2005. I will have to look further into this.
    I do not like to reference to police intimidation. Police must carry out what the blasted politicians approve: they have no choice.
    We always forget that we call them when there is trouble and expect them to be superhuman.

  8. gavingavwar

    Good article, one thing, though. You say ‘If I had a complaint against a government department, and publicized it, wouldn’t that cause annoyance?’ Earlier in the article you say it applies only if it causes annoyance to a person, not an organisation. Still though, good article.

      1. M

        In their jurisdiction an organisation/corporation/legal entity is a ‘person’.
        and that is the reason why they have jurisdiction over you because many havent delcared their status accordingly and operate under the presumption of a ‘person’.
        Your rights do not come from any other person (legal or common definition) they are unalienable and must be enforced unless your wish to contract your rights away then they are inalienable…

      2. Mike Sivier

        If I recall correctly, we had this debate on the site last year and the result was that, while such an organisation can be defined as a ‘person’ for some legal purposes, it cannot be so defined for others. It would be ridiculous to accuse Barclays Bank of a crime of assault and battery, for example. Conversely, it would be impossible to commit a crime of harassment, alarm or distress against the same (legally defined) ‘person’.

    1. Iskendersson

      I think one of the key points of the article is that the existing legislation only applies where a person has been the victim, but the new IPNA will also be applicable where annoyance has been caused to an organization.

      If only you had read the next paragraph…

  9. Joe smith

    So thanks to Government we see our freedom and democracy being further removed, they have to go, but how? We start by getting some of our control back, we must cancel the Parlimentary act 2011 which removes ALL the publics rights to demand removal of both suspect MPs and ultimately give an innefficient government a public vote of no confidence. Currently, this act has removed this power and given it to government pals in cabinet. Can anyone ever imagine IDS voting no confidence? No matter what the government does. The e petition to cancel this act goes live soon

  10. PendanticGeek

    I find the fact that Ian Duncan Smith, Jeremy Hunt, David Cameron, Gideon Osborne, Theresa May and Nick Clegg leave their houses VERY annoying.
    Can I make a case under this law? They seem to be repeat offenders.

  11. rob steels

    If you lived in some of these communities that are torn apart by anti social behavior and actually realized how helpless victims are under current legislation then you may welcome these changes. Fully agree that councils that abuse these laws to target homeless people etc should be dealt with but on the whole this now makes it easier for police to target the very real problem of anti social behavior. How would you feel if it was your elderly family member that was being intimated within the law everyday? Not everything is a conspiracy

    1. PendanticGeek

      I am well aware of the problem that ASB causes but the word “Annoyance” is a problem in this legislation, it should be “Intimidation” everyone has the right to say what they think regardless of how annoyed it may make you; they do NOT have the right to put you in fear through intimidating language.
      I’m not a lawyer and I can think of better ways to frame this than the obviously fascist way it has been put in this legislation.

  12. Linda Kwarteng

    its an endorsement on the fact that the police are becoming heavyhanded bullies too often in this country as opposed to ministers of protection and justice…in too many cases an outright disgrace

  13. Aldo Ginovera

    As a citizen I feel my powers and freedoms have been removed already with acts like this we could see the rise in more organised terrorist like behaviour not by fundamentals like just now but by average citizens when we need to voice our opinions (if we can’t do it in a polite manor officially we will need to do it in a non polite violent manor unofficially) these government have Taken various Norms and alienated them through perverse corporations and perverse money genorating schemes from as far back as the 1950s soon the government will tie its self up and have a non functioning country

  14. paul young

    this is so wrong. but this is not A law its an is only giving the power of law with the consent of the guvend

    1. Mike Sivier

      No, it IS a law. It was part of the Welfare Reform Act, passed into law by Royal Assent on March27, 2012 (if I recall correctly). The Coalition does not require anybody’s consent to force it on them.

      1. Squiggle Diggle

        No, it is not Law, it is Legislation!!
        Legislation only has the power of Law when consent is given by the governed, exactly as Paul said…
        You need to know the difference between Legislation and Law, if you do not, then you are consenting to all Legislation. If you know the difference, then you can remove your consent by not allowing the powers that be to have jurisdiction over you. I really recommend you read up on this, as so good as this article is, you really don’t seem to know what the difference between Law and Legislation is, which is one of the most empowering things you can ever realise.

      2. Mike Sivier

        Where do you get this notion of consent?
        Legislation is the act of making law; law is a rule or guideline set up by government to control behaviour. Consent is not implied, other than that of the electorate in voting in a government that enacts and enforces these laws.
        There is absolutely no leeway in UK law – to the best of my knowledge – for a citizen to remove his or her consent to be governed by the laws of the land.
        If you know better, then tell me where I may find such a privilege enshrined in statute.

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  18. Gaz

    I believe that you need to make sacrifices for the greater good. People here are arguing that this may lead to a loss of freedom and maybe they’re right, but at what cost?

    Britain focuses on equality and freedom for all, and the trash of society exploit it. The thugs, criminals, wannabe criminals or just teen “hoodlums” who know no better (or just don’t care). It is these guys that rejoice when campaigners try to get everything to everyone, because the world opens up for them to do as they please.

    It seems pretty obvious to me that this bill is all about criminal and disgusting behaviour which stays over the very fine line that makes it legal. I remember not too long ago a woman and her disabled son committing suicide after months of abuse by kids outside their home. The police did nothing or should I say… could do nothing. I don’t know about this law, but it can only be a good thing to allow the police to prosecute these scumbags who make life hell for others and know they can (currently) get away with it.

    I get that your point is that the change is where it no longer has to be a personas the victim for the situation to be criminal. Lets face it, though, this is Britain we’re talking about. We have it damned good! Just take a look at Syria or Greece in recent times and you’ll see how the rest of the world reacts to protesters.

    We’ll never lose our ability to protest, but it must be done in the right way. This law won’t affect people protesting, only those that are extremists or those that join the protests just to cause trouble.

    I can’t help but feel you’re arguing the case on a rare “what if” and not passing laws like these lets the real criminals get away with it. How can it be the case that burglars can sue the owner of a house when they get an injury during a robbery. The answer is by giving all freedoms to everyone without considering how they will be exploited.

    Freedom and human rights overrules common sense and that’s where the problem lies.

      1. Gaz

        Lets be honest, none of those cases were as simple as they sound. It is not difficult to imagine what happened and I can assure you that somebody did not just get an ASBO for laughing (as one example).

        In that case, all of those “crimes” would easily fall into a bullying category. If somebody laughed in your face, stared at you every time you walked past or demeaned your every achievement with a slow clap… then you would feel there were grounds for complaint. Now consider that he had been to court over 100 times and question whether this laughing, staring, etc was a one-off or part of a campaign of abuse.

    1. whistlewhetter

      The problem, and I mean real problem with these ‘scumbags’ you mention is why they are as they are. You don’t see youth development workers preaching to lock them up, you hear them preaching to help provide a better life. As much as this government offers hand outs, hand outs are not help! You ask the millions of people receiving charity aid in the form of food and water, as greatful as they are for this aid they would much prefer to be able to look after themselves and see a way of bettering their own lives.
      Much of the youth of today are unfortunately very lost, they feel neglected and they see no way to achieving these aspirations the are told to have. It does not make any wrong actions right, far from it, but surely part of what makes us human is understanding and reason? To just throw a whole bunch of people into jails and financial debt causing fines fixes absolutely nothing, it only exacerbates the issue.

      We are so sure that this westernised view on social politics and our general system is the way forward but just how many people suffer for this? Not only in our own country but many countries across the world. It is not only the governments who are to blame but each and every one of us who are closing our eyes to the millions and millions of people let down by the systems of their countries, not matter what the politics are. To simply legislate these people out of your lives is lazy and down right disgusting.

      As for the places you mentioned that we have it better than, that may be so but everything is relative and I would rather die penniless fighting for the good of the common man than helping to fill the pockets and support people who have actively created this world of inequality and heart ache.

      I share your sentiments in regards to these people who do suffer unnecessary heartache that this legislation may help, but what we should be striving for is a long term solution rather than a quick fix of ‘out of sight is out of mind’

  19. Havenfor Plants

    It saddens me how people don’t seem to understand the implications of what is happening in this country. All of the media appears to spout the same pro Government stories, praising the austerity measures, calling everyone claiming any kind of benefit a cheat, a no-hoper or scrounger. This Government will not allow anyone to protest against its inhumane policies and is bringing in the legislation to make sure no-one can, however peaceful the demonstration. We are not free, we cannot say what we want, we have no right to an opinion. We now live in a Dictatorship not a Democracy, our MP’s irrespective of Party, have voted for the masses to be subdued and controlled. The longer Cameron and Co remain in power, the more controlling policies can be introduced. We are to be enslaved by rules, rendered mute and impotent, driven into the ground by fear, destitute, stripped of dignity. “All in this together?” For sure, exactly where the Government wants us, so tightly contained we won’t be able to breathe without its permission.. Scared? I am and so should any decent human being be watching events unfold.

  20. OrphanedLand1221

    Yes because trying to crack down on bullying (which should be a criminal offence) is heading towards being a “Police state”. We should be applauding this not trying to stop it

    1. Florence


      This does not crack down on bullying, or is about having to deal with anti-social behaviour. It only needs someone to only THINK an act that is now an OFFENCE may be about to be committed. It means three people can be ordered to disperse and not return to the location.

      So if someone sits outside a Poundland handing out leaflets about their use of Workfare to increase their profits and reduce the number of employed staff, they could be criminalised, on someone’s say-so. Be that a PCSO. or a private security guard (i.e. privatised police, planning ahead in this legislation)

      This is highly repressive.

  21. Mike Sivier

    I’d like to take a bit of space here to thank everybody who has read this article, for making it the most popular in the nearly two-year history of Vox Political, in just 24 hours!

  22. Zoe Lindholme

    This is a direct violation of EU law. Anyone issued an ASBO can take the state to court. This information needs to be shared peeps

  23. gary webb

    The blind leading the blind…
    acts of law are made for profit not to protect the public.
    so blood suckers can feed from the pubic.
    tax is for greedy barrons.also feeding from victims.
    living off the fat of the to speak!!!!!!

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  26. Lesley Beales

    This is a double edged sword. I am currently suffering from anti social behaviour from a large group of Eastern Europeans. I am personally against a police state and notifying them on multiple occasions due to my daughter feeling threatened, I am shocked that they are unwilling to do anything. Are the scant examples of those that have faced court strictly limited to British people!

  27. vforv

    Total dictatorship of our little blue ball..Every corner of it. it’s in their agenda…we must stop this before it’s too late!

  28. A Crossland

    Perhaps the police don’t realize that after the peasants are crushed martial law comes in and the cops don’t have many tanks

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  30. noko

    The British will do nothing about it, as per usual.

    The government could quite literally come out and say “We’re going to install CCTV in every home in the country,” and the populace would quite happily bend over and let them do it.

  31. Graham

    A war is a war no matter how you look at it. If your enemy is fighting against you with deadly weapons, then you must fight back with the same or stronger weapons if you plan on winning. Words and protest are worthless against tyranny with guns and bombs. Unfortunately, most regular people of any country do nothing but protest which does nothing. If you really want change, hit the streets armed to the hilt, and do to them what they do to you. Tell them you want change or face your imprisonment. If they resist, open fire and kill them. Dead people can’t make decisions. Plain and Simple.

      1. jonnynix

        Peaceful protest simply doesn’t work anymore does it, many hit the streets against the iraq war but it still happened. Nobody seems very comfortable with fracking yet they press ahead. The MSM seem to actively cover up or just ridicule any dissent. I hate the thought of what would really happen if an armed revolution took place, it would be a blood bath in this country so full of hate and division. But what else can happen? Unfortunately i dont think the government are worried about this eventuality, it woyld play straight into their hands and give them the opportunity to begin a real programme of social cleansing, for freedom from ‘ terror ‘

  32. Angela Frost

    look while you all hold moral high ground + think you can still debate your views in the old democratic society you grew up with ,,,it no longer exists anymore for this generation or the future of your childrens freedom of speech …everything is illegal now ..only the police + your local councils + judges descide who has a voice in the public arena + only if it suits their political agenda among the elected free masons

  33. Angela Frost

    anarchy is never the answer to feelings of dictatorship ..all it does is enhain nce militancy to grow stronger from its 1st planted seed among the society we claim to wish to protect …in a growing society of bedlam on housing estates where big families bully 2 thirds of peaceful residents to make their lives hell ..on a daily basis to the point where they are trapped in their homes after dark like prisoners in their own life they have tried to make livable safe havens for their familes

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  35. Sam Elliott

    It’s all b****cks really no matter what we do or say, the country is going down the pan and government don’t care as long as they get paid and are looked after it’s fine.

    The thing is we allow it to happen as well, we don’t try and stop it.
    Only thing we do is give vote and ask peoples opinions wow not going to do much we need to fight back.

    We used to stand for so much more, we just to have respect as a country an ruled over a lot now we are a small island with no pride and enconomicaly we are screwed.

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