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9/23/2005
London's Top Cop Asking for Instant Drivers License Suspension
The London Metropolitan Police Commissioner recomends increasing police powers to include summary punishment for motorists.


Sir Ian Blair
A speech by London police chief Sir Ian Blair on Wednesday suggests that the British government is renewing its efforts to expand police powers over motorists, including the ability for officers to instantly suspend anyone's driving privileges.

"Now we must trumpet the need for change;" Blair said in a speech to police superintendents. "We must demand change; we must lead change."

Blair is pushing to expand the scope of anti-social behavior orders, known as ASBOs. These orders, introduced in 1999, allow police to punish activities "whether or not in itself criminal, that causes or is likely to cause harassment, alarm and distress to other people," according to the Home Office description. A civil court issues the order in the form of a warning letter. Ignoring the letter is a criminal offense carrying up to five years imprisonment.

Blair wants to reduce the burden of making applications to a court and allow police to issue "interim" orders on their own authority, allowing officers to execute punishment immediately.

"One of the other ideas that can emerge from workforce modernisation is to have some police officers -- paid more -- with more powers -- to impose an interim ASBO, for instance, or suspend a driving licence," Blair explained. "We can go up an escalator of powers, as well as down and pay accordingly."

The government first sought legislation to implement interim power in 2002. In 2003, the police gained the power to seize automobiles that have been driven "inconsiderately" after a warning notice has been issued.



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