After a mere eighteen months the coalition government has made substantial progress in rolling back the damage done to our civil liberties by the authoritarianism of the last government. Ordinary British people must have the right to go about their daily business without an overbearing nanny state watching, monitoring or demanding information from them. The scrapping of ID cards, deletion of innocent people’s data from the national DNA database and reforming the criminal record check system so it is fit for purpose were all unreasonable overreaches by the last government which we have rolled back. They not alone damaged the freedoms of each and every British citizen in the United Kingdom but also wasted our tax money on massive Whitehall bureaucracies.
But there is still much work to be done, the European Union is another source of intrusive regulations which goes against the traditions of British justice. The UK must extract itself from the European arrest warrant, a system which provides the vital function of tying up the UK police in nonsense cases like extraditing alleged Polish pig thieves. The UK is now infamous for the widespread use of CCTV cameras which blight the country. These can be useful in preventing crime but should only be used where they make sense and not blanketed across the country.
Terrorism is a serious danger to Britain, but the abuse of anti-terrorism laws undermines public support for legitimate public safety laws. The use of intrusive laws by local councils for matters ranging from school catchment enforcement and littering is surely not generally justified. Everyday across the UK absurd rules are regretfully enforced by the police. These range from an event in Chatham High Street in July 2009 where an amateur photographer was arrested, to a father being questioned by police for taking a picture of his daughter eating an ice-cream in a shopping centre in Scotland, allegedly for reasons to do with terrorism.
It is clear that the legacy of the last government in the area of civil liberties is of an overbearing, distrustful state which used laws to harass normal people. This government is moving away from this to a more sensible and common sense approach consistent with British traditions of liberty.