Letter: Bugging: we cannot simply trust police

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The Independent Online
Sir: That the six chief constables whose letter you published expect your readers to believe that robbers would use solicitors' premises to avoid police surveillance is frightening enough. Even more alarming is the possibility that they may actually believe it themselves.

Given the seniority of its authors, the letter is a desperately disappointing attempt to justify a frightening piece of legislation. Their dismissal of the genuine risks of abuse of their powers as "emotive red-herrings" confirms that they are not capable of operating any safeguards whatever and that authorisation from outside the police service is essential.

The current draft of the Police Bill leaves the police so much scope to "suspect" serious crime that they can, in effect, justify bugging virtually anyone who crosses their path. The chief constables' enthusiastic welcome for the commissioner who will retrospectively scrutinise their decisions tells us all we need to know about how many teeth that watchdog won't have.

PAUL STRASBURGER

London NW6

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