The Assault on Liberty continues:
Thousands more motorists will lose their licences under plans to give police the power to issue penalty points for careless driving without evidence being heard in court.
Unlike existing fixed-penalty offences, such as speeding and using a hand-held mobile phone at the wheel, the evidence for careless driving is much less clear-cut and is often a matter of the officer’s opinion.
At present police must take drivers to court if they want to prosecute them for careless driving. This is a time-consuming process involving large amounts of paperwork and officers rarely bother to prosecute, preferring to pull motorists over and give them a warning.
The Government believes that allowing police to issue fixed penalties for careless driving will make roads safer because motorists will know that they are more likely to be punished.
Of course people should take responsibility and improve their careless driving — which may be symptomatic of a larger problem of detachment from the concerns of others — but, again, it is time for a fundamental reappraisal of the nature of the relationship between citizen and state.
We once understood that:
Police must secure the willing co-operation of the public in voluntary observation of the law to be able to secure and maintain the respect of the public.
Police should always direct their action strictly towards their functions, and never appear to usurp the powers of the judiciary.
Police, at all times, should maintain a relationship with the public that gives reality to the historic tradition that the police are the public and the public are the police; the police being only members of the public who are paid to give full-time attention to duties which are incumbent upon every citizen in the interests of community welfare and existence.
Yet today we are sliding into a society in which the role of the police is to shepherd a disorderly public into resentful obedience. We must not allow it.
Liberty lost, and democracy denied, we are submissively acquiescing in a seismic shift in the fault lines of the relationship between state and citizen — without either willing it or objecting to it.
Learn more from the coming Convention on Modern Liberty.