Yesterday in the Commons the Opposition parties were able to highlight the government’s policy of collecting and retaining in a central database the DNA of many innocent people.
The government, of course, was impervious to the pleas that for once they might do something to uphold or restore civil liberties. Where have they put the old principle that someone is innocent until proven guilty?
One of the most unpleasant suprises about this governemnt was just how authoritarian they are. Few would have predicted that a newly elected Labour government would want to weaken the idea of jury trial, issue everyone with ID cards, hold personal data in huge quantities on central records, and build up a DNA library of many people in the country by interviewing them in connection with a crime they did not commit and were not prosecuted for committing.
This government’s idea of security has included sending an armoured car to police the M25 near Heathrow, placing a stunning array of new physical barriers around public buildings, putting gates, guards and guns on many entrances and inventing a large array of new crimes including thought crimes. Many of these measures have been neither effective nor proportionate.
It is not easy establishing a perfect balance between the ancient liberties of people in a free society, and at the same time taking sensible steps to prevent terrorism or violent crimes against free people. Of course there need to be some checks and good intelliegence to help keep us safe. This government has just gone too far in acting against the many, instead of successfully targetting the few who are more likely to seek to subvert a free society by violent means.