“Policing by consent” got a pretty good rap in the Report stage of the Public Order Bill, just now – but whose consent they didn’t specify.
Oil protesters sit in the middle of roads with that air of suffering humility while three-day tailbacks pile up in front of them. The police, deciding this isn’t “serious disruption”, seem to require their consent to move them out of the way.
The Bill creates many offences, all of which, it was repeatedly said, could be policed by existing laws – those covering wilful obstruction of the highways, public nuisance, aggravated trespass and any number of closely-defined misdemeanours dating back beyond the 1986 Public Order Act to medieval times
Charles Walker put his finger on it when he declared that the Bill “demonstrates our impotence as legislators.”
It’s not just the protesters who are out of control, it’s the police. A new Bill won’t change the Old Bill. It needs the entire blob of high command, low command and beat officers to follow the instructions of the Home Secretary and step in smartly to keep the King’s highways open.
The authority of ministers has declined, is declining and will decline further
The long-suffering but benign public mood invoked by the shadow minister might very well flip, and a Canning Town party starts clearing roads with their mini-JCBs. That will surely not end well.
Chaos in parliament may become infectious…