1 April 2012

A Police State?

Is Britain a police state? Well it depends what you mean by police state.

Britain has a vast and growing web of laws to restrict individual freedom and action by civic organisations. State surveillance is mushrooming. Police and other law enforcement agencies are inadequately held to account by political and judicial authorities, and within limits enjoy almost a free hand. Imprisonment and other sanctions are often unduly severe.

While Britain falls short of the standards expected in a liberal democracy, it is not a police state. First, it is still possible to form organisations and ‘speak out’ as my posting of this comment shows; and neither are the courts or political authorities under police control.

It’s better to use language carefully because when we actually live in a police state we will have cried wolf. Using the expression "police state" to describe what exists today devalues language. That may be no comfort to the increasing list of victims of state repression. Yet facts and emotions are separate things.


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