12 August 2011

Going through the motions

I find it difficult to avoid the impression that Cameron and co wish to be seen to be acting tough rather than actually delivering a so-called crackdown. The Independent conveys the flavour of the No 10 propaganda:

Ministers and the security services are planning draconian powers to shut down or disrupt mobile phone messaging services and social networks in times of civil disorder.

Downing Street sources said they were considering the "moral and technical" questions of how to grant new powers blocking all mobile communications to prevent rioters organising through websites such as Twitter and the BlackBerry Messenger service.

David Cameron said "nothing should be off the table" in efforts to prevent a repeat of this week's rioting in London and cities across England.
But they are only considering blocking social networks; given the practical difficulties, it seems unlikely that anything will come of it. They are also considering further powers of curfew, as well as investigating the use of the Army for policing duties.

The only firm intention seems to involve giving police further powers to insists that scarves, hoods or masks be removed in appropriate circumstances.

I suppose we should be grateful that the government is avoiding any commitment to ill-thought out responses. And I suppose it is inevitable that they would want to appear to be acting tough. But it betrays a certain cynicism ...

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