It’s been all over the news, but the Law Lord’s decision about detention, while it probably means a whole lot to solicitors, lawyers, barristers, human rights people and all those concerned with what is right and proper and British about the whole thing – and it sure as hell means a whole lot more to those who want to enter this country with malice aforethought – it’s not what I was first thinking when I saw it and still keep hearing it – yay for rolling news eh ?
I admire the solicitor at the centre of this – Gareth Peirce (BBC Profile) – and the work she did at the time of the falsely imprisoned Irishmen – but part of me can’t quite get my head around something:
If I know someone is going to do something, and I know others know, and that the something will cause harm and damage, why can’t I stop him even though he’s done nothing wrong. YET ?
It’s almost like someone is being given permission to do as they will, and to break the law because even though EVERYONE knows they will do harm, the LAW says that to stop them would infringe some right or other and that would be wrong, even though what THEY want to do would be even more wrong. (That make sense ?). So while it’s correct that we need checks and balances in law to have what we hope is a decent society, we also want fairness. But the law isn’t fair is it ?
I can see that if we give the Police and other security forces too much power and not enough oversight, then we run the risk of not only the Govt making more use of that in citizen surveillance, but also in people being detained for spurious reasons. That’s not what we want. So we support newspapers and organisations that seek to keep what’s what and not allow erosion.
But, if we go to what I see as an extreme and no-one can move unless a law has been broken (not bent, a solicitor would probably get someone out of merely bending a law), then although that’s cool in some ways, it’s atrocious in others. Already we have kids that are more aware of their rights than the Police and they run riot – carefully – around their environs. Isn’t setting something in stone just asking for people to look at it, study it and then work round it ? And with people coming to the UK (or into any country) with the intention of harm, it’s not like the security forces have much time to operate is it ?
(I get the feeling that if Osama Bin Laden landed at Heathrow, some solicitor would try to have him out on bail with a promise of good behaviour and when refused would complain that his client has committed no crime on UK soil so could not therefore be held blah blah blah).
Anyway, rights are important and despite the fact that we have an election in the offing and every single MP is about to start lying even more than normal (if possible…), we do have to have an element of trust not only in the Govt but also the staff of the departments – staff who will whistle-blow as has been proven even when Mrs T ruled the roost.
Rights are a balancing act – I have always said that unless you can handle the responsibility you cannot have the right – and the security forces are balancing the rights of the populace with the rights of a few. The few lose. Do people really honestly think that the Security forces have nothing else better to do than jump on people to keep cells warm ?
So yes, the rights of an individual are important, but in times like this the needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few. Lock up the bad guys. Give them all the legal representation they want AFTER they are locked up, and the Security forces all the powers to actually lock them up BEFORE they do the bad stuff.