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Letter: Police power

Andy Beckett's article ("The Bill gets closer", 5 January) concludes that "police officers, seeing their past excesses legitimised [by the Police Bill], may try more". He takes us back to 1979 and invites us to suppose that Britain is becoming a more authoritarian society, as if we are not already in a police state. Why does he avoid defining the police as oppressors in the here and now? The 1986 Public Order Act legitimised police illegality against New Age travellers at Stonehenge. Then, the 1995 Criminal Justice Act legitimised a range of police abuses of power against citizens.

The Police Bill consolidates the state's use of technological repression to criminalise all extra-parliamentary political activity, from animal liberation to tree-squatting, which it perceives to be threatening the free market.

Arthur Mix

Chipping Norton, Oxfordshire