Questioning newsagents about Charlie Hebdo sales – the police need to sort themselves out

The Guardian reports that police from several UK forces have questioned newsagents about sales of the Charlie Hebdo post-massacre issue. It’s a patchy phenomenum. Police in Wiltshire have apologised for doing it. There was a phone call from a Cheshire police person. And in Dyfed-Powys a newsagent reports being questioned for half an hour by police in her shop. A police spokesman there said:

Following the recent terrorism incidents, Dyfed Powys police have been undertaking an assessment of community tensions across the force area. Visits were made to newsagents who were maybe distributing the Charlie Hebdo magazine to encourage the newsagent owners to be vigilant. We can confirm the visits were only made to enhance public safety and to provide community reassurance.

The police need to sort themselves out.

Newsagents are under absolutely no duty to reveal or discuss sales in these cases to/with the police. It is quite wrong for the police to ask for the identity of purchasers, as has happened.

These are isolated incidents but they show that the police need to have a little more discipline and standard nationwide policy and compliance in these matters.

We’re in danger of tipping over the edge into police statism here. It won’t happen but we can’t be too careful.

As Sargeant Dixon used to say:

‘Evenin’ all


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