To elaborate on that previous post (which, truth be told, I knocked out in a bit of a rush):
The Today programme’s Jim Naughtie was talking to David Davis (ex-shadow home secretary) and Derek Barnett (vice president of the Police Superintendents’ Association of England & Wales) about calls for a debate about how police should handle public protests in the future. The conversation moved on to the recent arrest (and subsequent release on bail) of 114 people in Nottingham who were apparently planning to stage a big-ass protest at a power station.
The bit that made my ears do a double-take was when Davis said:
“We are getting into… a sort of pre-crime mentality. The idea that we’ve got to somehow interview people before the crime takes place.”
Which is all a bit disturbing, at least to a simple fool with leftish, anti-authoritarian tendencies like me. What made it worse was the fact that this was the first time I’d heard the term ‘pre-crime’ outside of a Phillip K. Dick science fiction novel. What next? Robert Peston reviewing the latest figures from Ubik Industires? John Humphreys grilling Palmer Eldritch over his three stigmata?
But I digress. As far as I know, the term ‘pre-crime’ first appeared in PKD’s 1958 short story ‘The Minority Report’ (which Steven Spielberg turned into a Cruiser-starring blockbuster in 2002). In the story, the police arrest people for crimes that they would have committed before they’re actually committed. Like so many of PKD’s stories, the central conceit is fiendishly smart and deliciously bonkers. I like it a lot.
I’m just not quite ready to see it happen for real.
You can find the original Today programme interview here (it’s about 7 minutes in)