Britain: Police State?

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More accurately, paranoiacs 'believe' that some authority is watching them. Even if they may have no real grounds for this fear.

I have a nephew who keeps his mobile phone in the microwave at night as he thinks 'The Man' is listening in to his conversations. He hasn't a shred of evidence for this.
As to paranoia, there is the saying that: just because you are paranoid, doesn't mean to say they are not out to get you. (I use "you" in the general sense here.) As to myself, my paranoia was not diagnosed, it was relatively mild, and I doubt it would have been picked up by psychologists/psychiatrists. I only knew I had been paranoid after it disappeared. I suspect that there is a lot more undiagnosed paranoia around than people might suppose.

I feel sorry about your nephew. What age is he?

As to there being no evidence about being surveilled, I would suggest you take a look around you. Observe the cctv cameras in town centres and roadsides etc, etc. (And I mean, try and detach yourself and just observe how and when you are being watched i.e. do not complicate the issue with justifications. Simply observe how and when you are being watched.) Observe that your computer is transmitting all sorts of information about you to web-site owners e.g. google. Ok, this is not called "surveillance", it is given a more benign sounding name by business so as to induce its acceptance by the public, but it is still surveillance. (Do you remember the outcry maybe 15 years ago when google started to use live cameras to film streets and town centres? It was rightly, I think, considered an invasion of privacy, this google surveillance.) Kindle too. When using Kindle (and other such devices), they too gather and send information about your reading habits to Kindle i.e. Kindle users are surveilled. When one uses email, this too is surveilled. I believe that records of mobile phone use are also kept for police access. So, mobile phone companies use surveillance. Smart meters are used to surveille a person's energy use. In schools these days, children are required to provide reports to certain teachers e.g. guidance teachers and inspectors, on their peers as well as their teachers. Guidance teachers today are party to all sorts of "confidential" information such that when I was a teacher, one never knew what they secretly found out about me or other teachers through the children. My boss surveilled me. He kept unofficial files on each of his staff to be used to intimidate them as he saw fit. The tv licencing authority surveilles citizens' ownership/useage of tv. Then there are the police invitations to grass on other citizens The list goes on and on...………………. In fact, digital technology is a godsend to government/business snoopers.


I am interested in why you think it is noble to protect wrong doers from the law.
I would not use the word "noble", here. My reasons are purely practical. For example, I believe that the detrimental psychological consequences to people of being surveilled are off the scale, so to speak. This, I suggest, is why mental health problems are going from bad to worse in this country. (This, I also suggest, may be one reason for your nephew's unhealthy behaviour.) There is clearly something very, very wrong here.

Also, if one believes, as I do, that we live in a very oppressive society, then why on earth should I inflame the situation by reporting on my fellow citizens? This would only play into the hands of the powers that be. That is, by dividing, they conquer. This an age old technique used by those in power to turn people against each other so that they become easier to control. Hence the destruction - or near destruction - of the unions by Thatcher in the 80s.


Very few people would bother reporting someone smoking in a bus shelter, even it it annoyed them.
I think you underestimate, or are unaware of, the extremely harmful psychological consequences to people of the threat of being grassed on. I mean, are you seriously suggesting to me that a healthy society is one in which threats are routinely issued to all and sundry by the powers that be? Are you seriously suggesting that being under constant threat and fear of wrong-doing is NOT going to damage people's mental health?
 
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INT21

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Littlebrowndragon.

Just two points then I think we are done.

1) I lived in Germany from 1969 to 1972.

One night I was on Dusseldorf railway station when a lad pulled out a knife and started threatening someone. Unfortunately for his two policemen walked around the corner at the same time.
The guy with the knife saw the cops and started to run. One cop shouted HALT. He carried on running. So the cop pulled out his pistol and shot him in the leg. Damned good shot.

A car came and took him away.

That is how policing should be done.

And point 2.

I don't know how to say this, but here goes. Please remember this is just my observation taken from your writing.

I feel you are essentially an anarchist. But, I also feel that you really do need to find someone to look into your paranoid tendencies.
You said above some where that your paranoia was not diagnosed. It may help to see a professional.

The world, particularly the UK, isn't anything like the police state you describe.

I think it will be better if I do not engage with you in discussions as I feel it will lead to me feeling the wrath of the Moderators if I answer you honestly; which is the only way I work.

No malice intended.

INT21.
 

maximus otter

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...the more the police try to control things, the worse crime will get. It is a lose-lose situation.

However, my use of the word "sick" above was deliberate. By that I mean that I think those who commit crimes should not be treated as criminals. Instead I think they should be treated as if they are sick and shown a little more humanity i.e. not automatically banged up in prison where all sorts of abuses are perpetrated.

I would suggest that the police are allowed to spend more time walking the beat as they used to and with a more friendly face i.e. less intimidating.

My father and I spotted a policeman some distance away. The machine was making so much noise that we could not shout to attract his attention. My father gave a piercing whistle which the policeman did hear. And the look on his face when he approached was thunderous. That is the only word for it. With hardly a word to us, he managed to switch off the vehicle, and then he turned away and walked off. he didn't even thank us for being responsible citizens.

My sister had an experience with the police where she had found a wallet with some money in it and took it to a police station to hand it in. Again, instead of a "thank you", my sister said that she was treated with great suspicion and made to feel that she had stolen the wallet, rather than being honest and handing it in. She has said that she would never, now, do such a thing again given how unpleasant that experience was. So, the police do need to work on their behaviour and show a more friendly face to ordinary citizens.

In addition to walking the beat, I suggest that the government severely cut-back on the amount of beaurocracy police have to contend with - ...The amount of paperwork police have to contend with must leave them no time to do the really important stuff.

...the police seem to spend an inordinate amount of time on "cold cases". Perhaps police energies would be better spent on the contemporary, not the historical.

Finally, as to "grassing", I think there is a danger of looking at this from too simplistic a point of view. Living in a society where citizens are invited to grass on each other, where no one can trust anyone else, will lead, I suggest, to severe even worse mental health problems than there currently are. And, of course, mental health is a big issue right now and mental health is going from bad to worse. I suggest that perhaps a little undetected crime will be less damaging to people's minds, will be a smaller price to pay, than living in a state where neighbour informs on neighbour, child informs on parent, siblings inform on siblings, pupils inform on teachers, students inform on lecturers etc, etc.
Whew! Where to begin...

At least you and I agree on two things:

a) Bureaucracy and paperwork are the curse of the job, and;

b) It would be great to have the luxury of time and resources to have officers walking beats. (Even though beat walking is 99.9% reassurance, and is a very poor use of officers' time in terms of catching criminals. The statistic I saw published in one of our in-house magazines is that an officer could only expect to happen on a crime in progress on average once every seven years. My experience roughly confirms this).

You suggest that police intervention causes crime. I'd be fascinated to hear how you think that the police investigating murder, rape or burglary, for example, causes more murder, rape and burglary; also, what you think the alternative should be. (Not investigating murder, rape and burglary?)

You seem to think that imprisonment is a common, automatic response to crime. It isn't. As I've stated before, on average a criminal has been been through the court system nine times before he's finally sent to prison. Factor in the warnings, reprimands, cautions etc. he'll have received previously, it transpires that you have to work long and diligently in order to be sent to prison.

Treat all criminals as though they were sick, and not just dishonest or violent? In the same way that the NHS now regards obesity and drug addiction as "diseases", and not as I believe, lifestyle choices? We'll have to agree to differ on that one.

"...of course, mental health is a big issue right now and mental health is going from bad to worse." Again, I disagree. It's fashionable to "medicalise" all unconventional behaviour. In my opinion, this is just a way to allow criminals to get away with it: "I can't help beating people up: I have Oppositional Confrontational Disorder, and there isn't a pill for it on the NHS, so I'm the victim here!"

You present two anecdotes of alleged incivility; one first-hand, one second-hand. Out of the ~125,000 police officers in the UK, multiplied by the length of your lifetime, even if both anecdotes are 100% correct, I'd call that a pretty good performance. I would, however, like to hear the stories of the officers concerned... I know that if a member of the public tried to attract my attention by whistling at me, l would probably have ignored him completely until he learned some manners.

maximus otter
 

maximus otter

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...the cop pulled out his pistol and shot him in the leg. Damned good shot.
Interesting fact: After the Hitler era, the German authorities were so keen to be seen as 101% supporters of human rights, that the official German police target featured a picture of a man with the bullseye on the left knee, rather than centre mass.

As you say, excellent shot under operational conditions.

maximus otter
 
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I think it will be better if I do not engage with you in discussions as I feel it will lead to me feeling the wrath of the Moderators if I answer you honestly; which is the only way I work.
Thank you for stating your position so clearly. Such statements are not, I find, common practice in forums or elsewhere, and it is therefore all the more appreciated.

I may be wrong, but I assume that my opinions make you angry and that this is why you feel you cannot trust yourself to refrain from breaking forum rules when engaging in any further discussions with me. Please know that it is NEVER my intention to cause anger. I explain my intentions below.

Many people have grave misgivings about the state of the world today, so much so that they are frightened about their own future or their children’s future etc. etc. However, it is clear to me that most people will not speak out, this, I believe, because although they know there is something seriously wrong, they cannot identify from amidst the chaos exactly what the real problem is. (For example, people want war to stop but unless one knows what precisely it is in human behavior that causes conflict, then how can the problem ever be successfully dealt with?) Then there are others who say: “For god’s sake just stop bothering me and leave me alone to die in peace.” To me, that attitude is a terrible indictment of the state of this society. So, as I said, my intention is never to generate anger – I will leave that to the politicians, to business, to the neighbours who will not stop their dogs from barking incessantly or who play their music too loudly, to the deliberately careless road user, to the child who delights in tormenting its parents etc, etc.. My intention is, in fact, to raise awareness of what is wrong with the world, to try to make sense of the chaos and, most importantly, to talk about it. To talk about it because too few people do, and few will unless others make the first move. That, then, is my intention.

So, thank you again, INT21.

PS: If it were up to me, you would be able to say to me exactly what you wanted to say on this or any forum. This because I believe that freedom of speech – genuine freedom of speech – is a vital, an essential, component of a healthy society. For example, my sister once received death threats on a forum. She made friends with the issuer of these threats and, of course, the threats stopped.
 
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You seem to think that imprisonment is a common, automatic response to crime. It isn't. As I've stated before, on average a criminal has been been through the court system nine times before he's finally sent to prison. Factor in the warnings, reprimands, cautions etc. he'll have received previously, it transpires that you have to work long and diligently in order to be sent to prison..
Nonetheless, one does hear in the news stories about prison overcrowding. So, people are being sent to prison. If, as I think you are you suggesting, prison is almost used as a last resort, then perhaps it is for no other reason than that prisons are overcrowded. That said, this long drawn out process of warnings, reprimands and so on is, in my opinion, nothing less than a minor version of Death Row where prisoners wait decades for the outcomes of appeals etc. To my mind there is only one word for this process: torture.

However, my objections to prisons are also about prisons themselves. They are inhumane and cruel. In addition, that one person or a group of human beings should pass judgement on another is monstrous. I think the Russians have a more realistic viewpoint. When a tv journalist interviewed a former gulag prisoner, he wanted to know how this ex-prisoner could bear to have, as his neighbor, a former gulag guard. The ex-prisoner replied “There but for the grace of god go I.” Exactly. There but for the grace of god go us all. (Of course, I realise that that attitude does not stop Russia having its own penal system. Nonetheless, the Russians seem to have a bit more common sense, have a better grasp of reality, than is common in this country.)

In addition, I was once called upon to serve in a jury. To my eyes the “crime” was petty: possession of a tiny quantity of some drug. However, I was appalled at the theatre that is the court system. The way the defendant is brought in alone and made to stand, alone, facing judge with jury on-looking from the side and spectators filling the seats behind. It seemed to me nothing less than the psychological equivalent of, say, a bear-bating pit. I also got a glimpse of the holding cells at the back of the court but only from outside. I’m not sure my sanity would withstand being detained in those cells, let alone a prison.

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Treat all criminals as though they were sick, and not just dishonest or violent? In the same way that the NHS now regards obesity and drug addiction as "diseases", and not as I believe, lifestyle choices? We'll have to agree to differ on that one..

Obesity and drug addiction are mostly not symptoms of disease, but of mental ill-health, possibly the effects of over-emotionalism. And as for turning to drugs or drink, then what other recourse is there for people in this cruel and inhumane society? Especially those at the bottom of the heap. As I know all too well myself, those at the bottom of the heap have little else to turn to. And if alcohol and drugs are denied people, particularly the lesser of those two drugs, alcohol, then the powers that be are just asking for serious trouble. Most mental health problems can be put down to excessive emotionalism. By discouraging alcohol and pricing it out of the market for poor folks (as is happening in Scotland and England too seems to be showing an interest), then the government is setting up an explosive situation, such an explosion – a Krakatoa-like eruption - of anger as will cause catastrophic damage to people’s mental health. Yet while the British government is already expressing concern about the levels of anger in this country, it unfortunately does not understand the causes of this anger, let alone have the ability to deal with the problem. In other words, it thinks alcohol fuels anger rather than providing a psychological outlet for the desperate.


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You present two anecdotes of alleged incivility; one first-hand, one second-hand. Out of the ~125,000 police officers in the UK, multiplied by the length of your lifetime, even if both anecdotes are 100% correct, I'd call that a pretty good performance. I would, however, like to hear the stories of the officers concerned... I know that if a member of the public tried to attract my attention by whistling at me, l would probably have ignored him completely until he learned some manners.

Firstly, I suggest that your FIRST response as a police officer would be to ascertain what exactly the problem is. Only after dealing with the problem, and only then, should any genuine incivility by the public be dealt with. (Fortunately for my father, we were “only” trying to deal with an out-of-control piece of heavy machinery which was causing damage and, more importantly, was a danger to the public – and incidentally, he was potentially putting himself in danger by doing so. However, in an even worse scenario, there could have been an injured person lying near the machine that neither of us felt we could leave. What, then, should we have done in that situation? Further endanger the injured person by leaving them lying beside the out-of-control machinery? Go and ask the officer very, very politely – I’m thinking of Sgt Wilson in Dad’s Army here - that if it wasn’t too much of an inconvenience would he mind very much helping us with the situation? No. The situation my father and I found ourselves in was perfectly plausible and so, therefore, was my father’s method of attracting the officer’s attention. As an aside, my father, when he retired to Canada, was also of help to the Canadian police – if I remember correctly he apprehended a thief - anyway, whatever service it was he performed for them, the police saw fit to award him some sort of “good citizen” medal for his troubles. He was immensely proud of that medal.)


Secondly, as to the statistics you quote, I have only described 1 interaction that I have had with the British police. As it happens, I have not had much to do with them. However, of those interactions I have had, about 80% of them have left me fearful of the police and losing respect for them. Your quoted paragraph above has just added another few percentage points to that 80%.


Finally, that policeman my father and I encountered was badly behaved. This would only have served to have damaged my father’s respect for the police, as it did mine. Also, one does not get respect by demanding respect. In that case all one will get is simulated respect. The only way to get genuine respect is to EARN it. That policeman my father and I encountered was of the type who DEMANDS respect.

In addition, as to getting the officer’s side of these stories, any officer who thought s/he might be in trouble for, say, misconduct, may not be willing to give an accurate account of their side of the story. I believe that there is in existence a police anti-corruption unit which was, itself, investigated for corruption in 2018. And, of course, from time to time news stories do emerge about police corruption. Just like the church has been forced to do after many allegations of abuse, the police should not see themselves as being above suspicion either.

Lastly, I wonder if the police have enough awareness of their own behaviour and its effect on people to give an accurate account of it themselves? I’m thinking of the military here and how US military – and, I assume, the UK military – are taught to behave. They are taught to be very aggressive and very intimidating. So aggressive and intimidating that even in a civilian context i.e. my local supermarket, the uniformed soldiers I saw there exuded that aggressive and intimidating behaviour when there only to stock up on groceries. I have had a few other interactions with the military, and as with the police, they too can be very intimidating, just like they were in that supermarket.
 
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