I have a number of US facebook friends, one of whom put this article about the Alabama Senate approving a private church police force. Apart from the US’s prohibition on the establishment of religion, this raises interesting questions on the way in which police and prosecution decisions are or should be accountable to the public. If one looks at “Jennifer Government” one can see the end game of the privatisation agenda.
While in the UK (I think, but certainly in England and Wales) we have a public interest test in any decision to prosecute which is taken by the Crown Prosecution Service, there are at least two weaknesses in the establishment of public accountability.
The first is that we allow private prosecutions of criminal offences. Is this a problem? In theory maybe not because Judges need to decide if the proposed prosecutor has “standing” but that is all, they do not apply a public interest test. They decided that William Rees Mogg did not have standing when he tried to have Harry Hewitt prosecuted for treason, but did permit the Federation Against Software Theft to bring an eventually successful private prosecution against Anton Vickerman for copyright fraud after the CPS had decided it wasn’t in the public interest. The other problem is that the Police are taking sponsorship, in the City, some police cars have been seen with BUPA advertisements, and football clubs have had to contribute to the policing cost of their games and grounds.