Officials in Britain with police-like powers now outnumber actual police officers, according to a new book which charts the rise of the professional busybody.
For the first time in history, Britain’s 120,000 constables and sergeants are fewer in number than parking officials, security guards, public safety officials and the like, who now total 125,000.
The statistics are revealed in a new book by civil liberties campaigner Josie Appleton, called Officious: The Rise of the Busybody State.
According to calculations by Appleton, who runs the Manifesto Club pressure group, the ranks of the police-like officials of the UK consist of:
- 10,000 council wardens
- 100,000 private security guards
- 13,000 police community support officers
- 2,000 ‘accredited persons’ given police powers
Accredited persons can be given a host of powers under the authority of local police.
They include banning people from areas, demanding information, confiscating goods like alcohol and cigarettes and levying fines.
Appleton’s book, published this Friday, exposes the subtle rise of officials who wield the state’s power which has expanded piecemeal, and often with little public scrutiny.
The effect is a system of government officials with much more power over the lives of ordinary people, who can be punished without even realizing what they were doing is wrong.
Unveiling her findings, Appleton said: “The new busybodies can be found throughout social life. They are in the street in day-glo jackets, telling people that they should not play ball games or hand out leaflets.
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“They are in institutions, enforcing criminal-records checks, drawing up safety signs or running diversity-awareness courses. They are in voluntary association or clubs, the child-protection officer or health-and-safety officer who fills in forms and invents new procedures with which everyone else must comply.
“Their purported function related to sex offences or the environment is a mere garb, because in substance they all have the same content and role: to extend regulation over social life.
“The instinct that all activities must be licensed has spread throughout public authority, to the extent that we see a reversal of the basis of the liberal state: from the assumption that everything is allowed unless it is specifically prohibited, to the assumption that everything is banned unless it is specifically allowed.”