@AC 12:14 Lowest confidence in the police for thirty year
"I don't think the police have been this untrusted since Mrs T used them as her own private army to beat up the striking miners"
Changes in police attitudes and changes in the law mean that a law-abiding individual is now more likely to have a negative contact with the police.
There are more laws to fall foul of than ever before, there is a far lower threshold to being arrested than ever before, and the system is implemented by police officers who are now judged on the numbers of arrests they make (see the recent case of the teenager who was arrested and DNA'd for 'theft by finding', when he was at a police station front desk handing in some lost property he'd found).
You no longer have to be suspected of illegal behaviour to come into contact with the police. The Terrorism Act gives them carte blanche to detain anyone, anywhere, on a whim. You have no legal right to object to a complete stranger turning out your bag, going through your things and giving you a thorough rub down in full public view.
Although that's not quite as bad as being collateral damage in the war on drugs
You don't even have to break any law, as many a public photographer will attest. The law is what the police say it is. If you're a snapper, the law is what a spoddy PCSO armed with a flourescent jacket, a walkie talkie and an attitude says it is. In a few months time the law is what certain nightclub bouncers say it is, as they're being brought within the 'police family' and given powers to detain and fine you. This will be fun.
It no longer matters if you are innocent, contact with the police can and will criminalise you. Even if you are arrested and later proved innocent, your DNA and fingerprints stay on file, and your CRB check counts allegations the same as convictions, excluding you from large areas of employment. The government has enshrined in law the police belief that if they suspect you of being a bad 'un, then you are a bad 'un, they just can't prove it yet.
The police are not accountable. Even if you don't accept that they are completely above the law (but they're not obeying the European ruling on DNA retention) being a member of the police is a definite barrier to prosecution. The IPCC is a laughable institution, which colludes with the police, most recently in the Tomlinson case. It's so ineffective and corrupt the part of its advisory board representing the legal profession resigned last year in protest.
Maybe we need a tinfoil hat icon. Actually, maybe not as they are out to get us.