Wednesday, December 03, 2008

Police and immigration given powers to demand to see identification

The government's favorite newspaper, the Torygraph, is reporting that police and immigration are to be given powers to demand to see identification.

"Clauses in the draft Immigration and Citizenship Bill give state officials the power to make anyone who has ever entered the country, at any time, prove who they are without needing any suspicion of a potential crime.

Civil liberty groups warned that the catch-all clauses would effectively cover any British citizen who has ever left the UK, even for a holiday, because they will have "entered" the UK on their return.

Refusing to hand over the necessary documents would be a criminal offence with a maximum penalty of almost a year in prison and/or a hefty fine."

I'm reminded of the comments of Lord Goddard in the famous ID card High Court case, Willcock vs. Muckle, in 1951, Wilcock having been prosecuted for failing to produce his ID card on demand to Officer Muckle:
"This Act was passed for security purposes, and not for the purposes for which, apparently, it is now sought to be used. To use Acts of Parliament, passed for particular purposes during war, in times when the war is past, except that technically a state of war exists, tends to turn law-abiding subjects into lawbreakers, which is a most undesirable state of affairs. Further, in this country we have always prided ourselves on the good feeling that exists between the police and the public and such action tends to make the people resentful of the acts of the police and inclines them to obstruct the police instead of to assist them."
Wilcock's conviction was nevertheless upheld but promises to ban ID cards in the wake of the case became one of the planks on which Winston Churchill's Conservative Party fought the general election later that same year. The conservatives won the election and in 1952 abolished ID cards.

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