Friday, 25 May 2007

Spy Planes and CCTV Are Not Enough.. Government Now Considering Rewarding Neighbours to Spy on Eachother

The Government is considering a plan where the public would be rewarded for spying on and reporting neighbors who may be VAT or customs cheats. Benefit cheats could also be targeted.

This informant plan would offer a reward to anybody producing hard proof , otherwise unavailable to the authorities, that a person was defrauding the Government. An example of the "proof" the government would require could be secretly taken photographs.

The payout could be as high as 30 per cent of the total amount seized. Ministers have also not ruled out allowing informants to take over a neighbour’s possessions, such as luxury cars or plasma TVs, if they had been bought with the proceeds of crime. These rewards could reach to hundreds of thousands of pounds.

After the less than successful start made by the Assets Recovery Agency, which initially cost more to run than it recovered, this is the Home Office's latest idea to target the extravagant lifestyles enjoyed by criminals. Other new powers in the plan could include the right to seize lifestyle items from thieves and burglars, such as jewellery, and laptops. Tony Blair originally suggested these powers as part of a package of policies on law and order.

Home Office Minister Vernon Coaker said it was based on a "strikingly successful" scheme in the U.S. He continued to say that, "We are asking, is it applicable in this country, is it something that people would find acceptable and is there a workable model? "

Coaker surely must be aware what a ridiculous concept this is. Encouraging conflict and distrust among neighbours is not something the government should promote. I am the first to agree that people who are benefit, VAT, or Customs cheats should be prosecuted. However this is not the way to gather evidence. One would think that the government is able to gather enough evidence with its' spy planes and millions off CCTV cameras without encouraging neighbours to secretly photograph and spy on each other.

I would not be overly concerned about this plan moving forward though. As Shadow Home Secretary David Davis said,""Behind the spin, this is yet another government consultation, containing yet more gimmicks. This Government has a woeful record at seizing criminal assets."

The Assets Recovery Agency was described as a disaster earlier this year after the National Audit Office said it had cost £65million to run but had seized only £23million.

Perhaps if the Government spent more time focusing on doing the job at hand, rather than spending time and resources developing new (absurd) plans and agencies to do the job, they might actually accomplish something.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Great Picture!