There are reports today that the police want the government to give them new powers to dispense "instant justice" in town centres. What they would like to do, for example, is issue on-the-spot bans against young people to stop them entering town centres and crush cars if drivers have no insurance. All this would happen on the say-so of a police officer. These ideas are the brainchild of Surrey’s assistant chief constable, Mark Rowley, speaking for the Association of Chief Police Officers. Rowley is sure to get a sympathetic hearing from New Labour and its new Gauleiter, John Reid, who is also known as the Home Secretary. Reid and his boss, Tony Blair, are in the midst of "rebalancing the justice system" in favour of the victim. Their answer is to take away more rights of an accused person and accelerate the trend to "instant justice". We have already seen this with ASBOs, or the notorious anti-social behaviour orders. Most of these are aimed at young, working class children and are granted by a court without proper process. Eighty-one children were given custodial sentences as a result of breaching ASBOs between June 2000 and December 2002. Article 37 of the Convention on the Rights of the Child requires that custody should only be used for children as a matter of last resort. The Children’s Rights Alliance for England says: "ASBOs bring no guarantee that a child will get effective support; the ASBO process, especially ‘naming and shaming’, violates children's human rights; and there are growing concerns that the policy is creating greater tensions between young and old, and ‘demonising’ young people." New Labour’s whole "law and order" agenda violates everyone’s human rights and is part of the slippery slope to a police state, where the men in blue act as judge, jury and executioner.
Paul Feldman, communications editor