Bouncers (or ‘Door Supervisors’), Neighbourhood Wardens and Parking Attendants are the latest group to be given ‘special powers’ by the Home Office in the UK.
This will give such individuals the right to patrol streets and hand out on-the-spot fines for such things as drinking in an illegal, disorder, harrassment, flyposting and dog fouling.
The Magistrates Association, with 30,000 officials, is firmly opposed to this latest initiative from the Justice Secretary Jack Straw and are believed to have registered a formal protest.
According to the Home Office, all the individuals given these powers are highly-vetted (or probably should be! Oh no, wrong vet!) ‘community figures’. These ‘accredited’ persons will have access to the Police National Computer and are required to use it to check a person’s previous convictions before issuing an on-the-spot fine.
At this rate, everyone is going to know everyone elses private details.
These community figures will get a uniform (the Jobsworth Mark III?) and a pretty badge. The powers are granted under the Police Reform Act 2002 to organisations that are deemed to contribute towards community safety. However, as has been seen by the fact that councils and other organisations have used the Anti-Terrorism laws to spy on people putting out their bins, these laws can be easily abused.
Some argue that on the spot fines and conditional cautions, which now account for almost half of all 1.4 million offenders dealt with in a year, ease the workload on the courts. It should also, of course, give the police more time to ignore calls for help by members of the public.
Sceptics might see the increase in fines for just about every violation, some automatic such as in the case of speed traps, as purely a means of generating income. They might also see it as ‘window dressing’ by a government in distress, designed to give the impression that they are actually doing something constructive. No, no-one could be that sceptical!
Maybe they should consider:
Give everyone in the country ‘special powers’, a badge and a uniform and do away with the need for a police force.
Introduce a ‘Life Tax’, say £100 a year for every citizen, and just let them get on with their lives without interference.