In its eagerness to give the impression that it takes crime seriously, Tony Blair’s government has created more than 3,000 new criminal offenses during its nine-year tenure, one for almost every day it has been in power.
“The result? A country less free than before, and a marked erosion of the trust which should exist between the Government and the governed”, Nick Clegg, the Liberal Democrat home affairs spokesman told The Independent.
It is not without a certain irony that all this lawmaking goes on under the very same government that has invested the police with the power to issue so-called ASBOs, orders that forbids a person to take part in otherwise lawful activities. Mr Blair has made clear that he favors an extension of summary justice, and fresh proposals are expected in the autumn.
The Association of Chief Police Officers disclosed yesterday that it was considering asking ministers for further powers of instant justice, including the authority to exclude unruly youngsters from town centers and to break up teenage gangs.
Condemning this Judge Dredd-like idea, David Davis, the shadow Home Secretary, said: “We cannot bypass the court system. It is up to the justice system to scrutinize and take judicial decisions, not the police.”
Enver Solomon, deputy director of the Centre for Crime and Justice Studies at King’s College London, said: “It has become a New Labour trademark to criminalise a range of social harms which would be more effectively dealt with away from the clutches of the criminal justice agencies.”
In other words: Just because you don’t like something, that doesn’t make it illegal. It is Tony Blair’s not liking something that makes it illegal.