Monday, December 07, 2009

Intrusive and intimidating

Earlier in the year, as an attempt to pre-empt the student party season, the police in Palmerston North created a "party register", encouraging people planning parties to tell them the time, date, location, and expected attendance. And now its going national.

This is grossly intrusive. While the register is voluntary, police here are clearly trying to create an expectation that all events will be registered with them (though doing so apparently doesn't "legitimise" a party. Which is a very odd concept). What next? I'll have to inform the police if I eat dinner or take a dump?

In case the police have forgotten, we have freedom of association in this country. It is no business of theirs if I hold a party. It is no business of theirs how many people I invite. It is no business of theirs what they drink. They should not be trying to intimidate the public into giving up those rights. Telling the police what we are doing may make things easier for them (in the same way that omnipresent surveillance or forcing us all to live in little boxes might), but it is not a hallmark of a free and democratic society. Instead, it is a step towards the opposite.