The Future For British Geeks

The police decided that wearing a rain jacket, carrying a rucksack with a laptop inside, looking down at the steps while going into a tube station and checking your phone for messages just ticked too many boxes on their checklist and makes you a terrorist suspect. How many other people are not only wrongly detained but wrongly arrested every week in similar circumstances? And how many of them are also computer and telecoms enthusiasts, fitting the police’s terrorist profile so well?

This man was arrested, his house searched and his possessions confiscated, and was detained overnight on the flimsy evidence listed above. His name is now permanently in police records. And the police are asking for yet more powers.

11 thoughts on “The Future For British Geeks

  1. Can’t this guy sue the police or the government or something for damages (trama, time lost sitting in jail, loss of possesions, etc)? It doesn’t look like they have any real evidence against him.

  2. The police will naturally always ask for more powers, it makes their job (reducing crime etc.) Its the job of our politicians to balance how many powers they grant the police against the cost to society in lost freedoms and innocents in prison. Unfortunately politicians lately don’t seem to realise that the police, quite naturally, have a vested interest and that their advice might not be the best for the coutry overall.

    There’s a pledge on pledgebank to write to your MP against the imposition of a police state. I can’t say its the best written pledge, and at the current rate it looks likely to fail. But, writing to your MP can help to educate them. They need to be persuaded that we value our freedom. Otherwise they will follow the media calls to “do something” to make us “safe”.

  3. His name is now permanently in police records

    And his DNA is permanently on the national register too …

  4. I don’t really see the problem. There will _always_ be a trade-off between personal inconvenience and security. Think about it – if the police had _no_ powers to detain anyone for any time at all to investigate anything, then we’d all have the very greatest inconvenience – because we’d be at the mercy of criminals. Having to be detained for a night sometimes is the price we all pay for having a police force. There’s _always_ a trade-off. The question is about the balance in that trade-off. One night is nothing to complain about – it’s a price well worth paying. Now, if they’d locked him up for a month, I’d argue that was over the top. But as it is, there’s nothing to see here…

  5. “In the US we have just one benchmark: skin color. Nothing else. Hence the reason security personnel in the US make so little.”

    While so far these have been Muslim terrorists with certain simillar features, this statement is untrue. Although it is stupid, checks are random and little old ladies & even my young daughter are sometimes searched.

    Profiling makes sense, but not going sofar as house searches, which thankfully would not be allowed in America.

  6. @David:
    “I don’t really see the problem. There will _always_ be a trade-off between personal inconvenience and security.”

    The policies set forth aren’t likely to be helpful, as they are reactive to prior threats. Terrorists are not stupid. They pay attention to what’s going on and won’t attempt an attack that is likely to fail. I doubt they’ll target the subway system again. But there are so many other vulnerable targets out there.

    So the problem here is that this is a bad tradeoff. The marginal increase in security is outweighed by severe breaches in civil liberties. You’d quickly change your mind were you to go through such an experience. It’s easy to downplay the problem when you’re not directly affected by it.