A recent meeting of the Association of Chief Police Officers (ACPO) has decided that police officers and staff who join the British National Party (BNP) face dismissal.
The BNP is an odious party with odious beliefs. Very few, other than BNP members, would find that statement in any way controversial.
However, the BNP is not an illegal organisation, nor is membership of the BNP illegal. There is room for debate as to whether it should be made illegal and there are things to say about that both from the 'yes' and 'no' sides of the argument.
The fact remains that the BNP is not an illegal organisation.
Imagine some scenarios from a few years in the future:
- (Dateline 17 July 2009) The ACPO have announced that police officers and staff in possession of CDs which include songs performed by 'Westlife' (and a number of other boy- and girl-bands) face dismissal. Whilst such CDs are not illegal, the ACPO considers these songs to be a crime against culture;
- (Dateline 25 March 2011) It has been decided by the ACPO that membership of the Labour/Conservative/Liberal Democrat (*) Party is not appropriate for police officers and staff because the ACPO believes that such membership would compromise unacceptably their impartiality in dealing with members of the public and as a result such police officers and staff face dismissal. (* - delete inapplicable)
Does this sound far-fetched? Possibly, but I could imagine a climate of opinion developing in which it might come to be seen as unobjectionable in either case given unforeseen events.
The ACPO policy is WRONG, WRONG, WRONG!!
The police exist to enforce laws passed by Parliament. The police do not exist to make law. The ACPO has exceeded its authority in making this policy decision and it needs to be challenged quickly.
It so happens that in my more paranoid moments I could be persuaded that the good of society would be best served if all 'socialists' were strung-up from the nearest lamp-post, but I think that if this policy were ever to be followed outside of my more lurid imaginings then it would prove only that the world had gone completely mad.
Perhaps a more sensible policy might be to make it a requirement for employment within the police that police officers and staff declare membership of a given range of organisations which might include political parties and other organisations such as the 'Freemasons' or any close religious affiliations they may have, for example. I would need some convincing that any of this was a good idea, though.
As it stands, the ACPO policy is WRONG, WRONG, WRONG!!