When does 'voluntary' mean that you have a choice, and when does it mean that you'll do what you're told to by the state?
Well, in Redruth, Cornwall, 'voluntary' clearly means the latter. A report in today's Times explains how 'voluntary' curfews are to be imposed on teenagers in the town, with all under 16s required to be off the streets by 9pm.
Police have written to local residents, asking for their co-operation in this 'voluntary' measure. Fair enough, you might think, but what will happen if they don't comply? As the Times reports:
Parents who do not agree to the scheme, and whose children are found out after 9pm, could be subject to parenting or antisocial behaviour orders.
That's OK then -- completely 'voluntary'. The report quotes local Police Constable, Marc Griffin:
“This is a voluntary scheme but there is a hard edge in that if we find families who aren’t getting involved we can make orders."
The report continues:
A spokesman for Devon and Cornwall Police said that most children would go home willingly if challenged. Others might have to be “escorted”. He said: “There are a belligerent few who will refuse to comply but officers are more than capable of persuading them to do so.”
Amidst the praise for the move, a lone voice suggests that there might be a better way of dealing with the problems that youth on the streets can actually cause:
One father, however, was not convinced: “It’s just more words from police to make it sound like they’re doing something. What they need is more police on the beat. That’s the only way to stop trouble.”
But that takes time, money and effort, doesn't it? Far easier to 'cleanse' our streets with a curfew, isn't it?
Remember, if the Police can impose a curfew on teenage yobs, they can impose a curfew for just about anything they like. I was of the opinion that the Police uphold laws, not invent them.
The Police State approaches
hat tip to Patrick at the LPUK