Wednesday, October 13, 2010

A terrible idea from a predictable place

The Commissioner of London's Metropolitan Police has appealed to the ultimate Nanny-state Great Britain's home secretary to make it far harder for peasants to sue his force over brutality and civil rights abuse claims.  He also wants his government to begin charging people and organizations to fulfill Freedom Of Information Act requests, in an apparent effort to cut down markedly on the number to which his seemingly overworked office has to respond.

(Ironically, "Sir" Paul Stephenson conveyed his ideas to Secretary Theresa May in a "confidential memo", portions of which were only made public after the Guardian newspaper submitted the very sort of FOIA request that Stephenson wants to make much more difficult to accomplish.)

Why should British cops enjoy special protections over and above any other government workers?  They're not "special people" at all but merely ordinary subjects that have been granted extra powers to successfully perform a public safety function.  If anything because of that situation they should be subject to more oversight than the average employee.

Here's an idea - if the police didn't regularly abuse their authority or break the law themselves there wouldn't be anything to sue about, and therefore no need to limit efforts to gain redress for the harm they most certainly cause innocent people on occasion.

"James Welch, legal director of the civil rights group Liberty, said: 'The ability to challenge police misconduct in court is a vital constitutional safeguard against abuse of power.'"


No comments: