Wednesday, May 16, 2007

New police powers condemned

Sweeping new police powers announced by Home Secretary John Reid have been condemned by opposition politicians and human rights groups.
Mr Reid said he wants to pass new laws allowing officers to evict nuisance neighbours and board up their homes. He also disclosed new plans to extend use of controversial Taser stun guns.
But shadow home secretary David Davis said the powers to target anti-social yobs were "simply a headline-grabbing gimmick". Mr Davis said: "After 10 years of failure to address crime and its causes this is a pitiful attempt by a lame duck Home Secretary to convince the public he is taking effective action."
Mr Davis continued: "The small print reveals that this will only apply to about 50 families a year. In any case these families will be re-housed so the problem is simply being moved on."
Director of human rights group Liberty, Shami Chakrabarti, said: "Dr Reid's parting gift contains his characteristic enthusiasm for punishment without trial. Making kids homeless because their parents are noisy and extending punishment for criminals indefinitely will not only be a future Home Secretary's headache but yet another shadow on the rule of law in this country."
Officers in England and Wales will be allowed to temporarily throw anti-social residents out of their homes, whether they are council tenants, private renters or even own the properties.
The dramatic new powers - which the Home Office said would only be used as a last resort - are based on measures already in force to tackle crack houses and other drug dens.
Mr Reid - who is stepping down next month - confirmed previously-announced plans for Violent Offender Orders which will impose tough conditions on dangerous criminals.
The Government has also reached its target to recruit 16,000 police community support officers (CSOs) by April this year, with 10,000 recruited in the last year alone, he said.
The target for the number of CSOs was originally 24,000 but was scaled back after senior police officers said they would not need so many to deliver the Government's neighbourhood policing projects.

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