Friday, May 20, 2005

Oi, you lot, go home!


On the Today programme this morning, an item about a shopping centre in Northumberland, where young people will be subject to a curfew for the next six months.

Once again, after the Bluewater 'hoodie' ban, control of public space becomes an issue. But reading the detail of this scheme, it becomes a little more chilling. The police have the power to "disperse groups of two or more people at the centre, if they believe their presence has resulted or is likely to result in members of the public being intimidated, harassed, alarmed or distressed." (My italics)

According to the Today programme, such behaviour could include "eating chips" (AAARGHH!!!) and "making remarks" (SHOCK!!!).

You don't have to be a conspiracy theorist (but it helps) to join all the dots together and end up with a society in which public space is ruthlessly controlled, and young people are not allowed to hang around, even in pairs and even for the purpose of buying food if the police don't like the look of 'em. And what happens in Bluewater and Cramlington today will be happening in your high street tomorrow.

UPDATE: Justin McKeating has a sharply-worded article about the use of existing police powers to crack down on legitimate protest here.


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