The MP for North East Somerset, Jacob Rees-Mogg said that those council officials with the power to issue fines for minor infractions should have to wear blower hats to be easily identified, and avoided, by the public. This is in response to a plan under
way in the London boroughs which may grant town hall officials the power to force offenders of minor misdemeanours to turn over their personal details so that they can be charged a fine.
At the moment, council officials can already issue these fines, but there is no requirement for the accused to hand over their personal details, leaving officials with no means of following up. A bill in Parliament, the London Local Authorities Bill,
would make it a criminal offence for the accused to refuse to hand over their information when stopped by these officials.
This bill is a blatant snub of civil liberties. Policing should be left to the police, and Big Brother Watch has said repeatedly that granting police powers to civilians is shaky at best. They show a worrying disregard for due process and the quick,
cheap and dirty training many of these officials receive fails to give them a clear knowledge and understanding of the law (or very minor offences) they so vigorously enforce on the streets of their communities.
And are there ramifications for misusing or abusing these powers? In reality, aside from clear guidance and strict training, there is very little that can protect the public from abuses of these powers.