The following is from a petition on the 10 Downing St site :
Section 110 of the Serious Organised Crime and Police Act 2005 was ‘tacked onto’ an otherwise acceptable piece of legislation and allows ANY police officer in England and Wales to arrest, (i.e. physically detain, handcuff and take to a police station for a DNA sample), ANY person, for ANY offence, no matter how trivial and whether or not a power of arrest previously existed for that offence. People can now be, (and have been), arrested and detained under Section 110 for not wearing a seatbelt; dropping litter; shouting in the presence of a police officer, climbing a tree, and building a snowman. Whereas police officers used to have to justify every arrest and be aware of whether or not a particular piece of legislation gave them power, they no longer have to do so. The power to deprive someone of their liberty should only be exercised in the most extreme circumstances, yet young and inexperienced police officers, (and soon, PCSO’s), are being trained that arrest and detention of a suspect is the first option in most encounters with the public. This sweeping power is being roundly abused on a daily basis in all of the 43 police forces in this country and puts you, your wife, husband or partner, your children and your friends at risk of arbitrary action by the police.
David Gilbertson QPM (formerly Assistant Inspector of Constabulary Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary, Home Office (retired 2001))
As I've said elsewhere, we may not be a police state yet but this Government has constructed the legal framework for one and unless these laws and powers are overturned, one day we might get a government quite willing to use them.
This is totally wrong. Until this pernicious legislation, the Police could only arrest for what was termed "an arrestable offence" under sections 24 and 25 Police and Criminal Evidence act. This provided a power of arrest where the sentence is fixed by law (for example, murder), and offences for which a person could be sentenced to a term of 5 years or more imprisonment. This in effect covered almost all the more serious offences, such as theft, serious assault, burglary and criminal damage. In addition there were some offences which, while NOT carrying a 5 year sentence, were also "arrestable" by their nature....such as possession of an offensive weapon, ticket touting and driving whilst disqualified.
One might have thought these powers were more than sufficient. But, as SWL points out, the new act extends this power of arrest for a PC to arrest anyone for any offence if the officer feels like it at the time. The act does set SOME limits, and these are:-that the name of the relevant person is unknown to, and cannot be readily ascertained by, the constable; that the constable has reasonable grounds for doubting whether a name furnished by the relevant person as his name is his real name; that - the relevant person has failed to furnish a satisfactory address for service; or the constable has reasonable grounds for doubting whether an address furnished by the relevant person is a satisfactory address for service; that the constable has reasonable grounds for believing that arrest is necessary to prevent the relevant person— causing physical injury to himself or any other person; suffering physical injury; causing loss of or damage to property; committing an offence against public decency; or causing an unlawful obstruction of the highway; that the constable has reasonable grounds for believing that arrest is necessary to protect a child or other vulnerable person from the relevant person
These are so widely framed that the effect is that nowadays you can be arrested for the most trivial of summary offences because the officer feels it might be more convenient for him. It is a massive extension of a power that should only be exercised when necessary, and the old PACE act was more than sufficient for that purpose. It worries me, and it should worry all of you. Sign the petition.