The greater Manchester police want everyone to help them find terrorists:
In a new anti-terror drive, a tip-off hotline is being relaunched and an advertising campaign will urge people to report any suspicious behaviour. It asks:
* Do you know anyone who travels but is vague on where they’re going?
* Do you know someone with documents in different names for no obvious reason?
* Do you know someone buying large or unusual quantities of chemicals for no obvious reason?
* Handling chemicals is dangerous, maybe you’ve seen goggles or masks dumped somewhere?
* If you work in commercial vehicle hire or sales, has a sale or rental made you suspicious?
* Have you seen someone with large quantities of mobiles?
* Have you seen anyone taking pictures of security arrangements?
* Do you know someone who visits terrorist-related websites?
* Have you seen any suspicious cheque or credit card transactions?
* Is someone is asking for a short-term let on a house or flat on a cash basis for no apparent reason?
This reminds me of TIPS, the ill-conceived U.S. program to have meter readers and the like—people who regularly enter people’s homes—report suspicious activity to the police. It’s just dumb; people will report each other because their food smells wrong, or they talk in a funny language. The system will be swamped with false alarms, which police will have to waste their time following up on. This sort of state-sponsored snitchery is something you’d expect out of the former East Germany, or the Soviet Union—not the U.K.
For comparison’s sake, here’s a similar program that I actually liked.