13 June 2008.
For immediate release.

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Press Release

42 Days Issue is Tip of Civil Liberties Iceberg
ABD Salutes David Davis For His Stand
The ABD said today that the David Davis by election must be about much more than the 42 day detention issue.
The drivers' organisation gave its unequivocal support to former shadow Home Secretary David Davis over his decision to resign and force a by election over the erosion of civil liberties.
It also congratulated the Liberal Democrats for announcing they will not put a candidate up against him — ensuring a straight fight on the issues.
"There are two issues which concern us much more than 42 days' detention, which at least has to be justified to parliament in each case it is used," said ABD spokesman Nigel Humphries. "One is the rise in surveillance and automated law enforcement, especially when it is used to raise money, the other is the way the democratic process is side stepped through the financial manipulation of local authority policy. Both of these result in bad law and bad policy being implemented outside of the democratic process and away from the media spotlight — and they are slowly making criminals of us all."
The ABD believes that we need laws to treat surveillance data in the same way as private telephone records — it can only be used "on the spot" by the police when they suspect a crime has been committed or accessed afterwards for evidential purposes by order of a court.

1 Automated law enforcement for financial gain has been made possible by rapidly advancing surveillance technology. Motorists have been the first to bear its full force, with cameras enforcing an increasing range of motoring offences, from speed limits, bus lanes and red lights to parking in both public and private places. With the advent of biometric data and face recognition technology, the extension of this kind of surveillance to everyone is only a matter of time.
This technology makes it possible to implement laws that would otherwise be impossible to enforce - either because a majority of the population are not prepared to comply and break the law in such numbers that manual enforcement becomes impractical, or because a democratically accountable police force feel ridiculous in front of a public they are supposed to be serving and therefore prioritize other areas of activity.
These are two vital checks and balances on the system of law that have been swept away by automated enforcement, and they have led to new and unreasonable laws being introduced simply because they can be enforced. This has happened in the areas of speed limits and parking regulations, which have been taken out of the hands of the police, becoming revenue generation activities. This undermines the law in the public psyche and results in a society that is not only oppressive but criminalized in its thinking.
2 A worrying trend has emerged where, instead of being debated properly in parliament and in the national media, decisions are "delegated" to local authorities, who are then put in a financial straitjacket which gives them no choice but to pursue what has now become a "stealth" policy of the government.
The best current example is the TIF (Transport Improvement Fund) which only allocates investment monies for transport to local authorities which introduce road pricing. Manchester has badly needed a light rail Metro system for many years, but has had to propose an unpopular road pricing scheme in order to get government money to build it.
This is little different from the approach of Robert Mugabe, who starves his people and then hands out food to those who vote for him, and it has no place in any progressive, modern democratic country.

Notes for Editors about the ABD