Opinion: Checking out new laws just part of work at Parliament

MP Sir Greg Knight.
MP Sir Greg Knight.

The Recess is over and Parliament has returned to work, a large part of which is to scrutinise proposed new laws.

When our laws are changed, Members of Parliament need to ensure that a provision which is meant for one purpose cannot unreasonably be used for another.

A woman placed a photo on Facebook of a police car in a disabled bay.

A woman placed a photo on Facebook of a police car in a disabled bay.

An example of why MPs need to scrutinise and sometimes limit what is proposed has recently arisen in Spain.

Over there, their ‘public security law’ has been used in a way which the public did not envisage.

Recently, a Spanish woman posted a photograph online of a police car parked in a disabled parking space in the town of Petrer on Facebook and she made critical public reference to the occurrence, rather like a similar incident that took place in Hull this month.

Incredibly, she was tracked down by the Spanish police and given a fine of €800.

Under this Spanish Law, the unauthorised use of images of police officers that “might jeopardise them or their safety” is prohibited.

In this case, the two officers who parked in the disabled bay filed a complaint with the Spanish Government saying that it offended them and merited a sanction.

An official said: “The officers were entitled to park in the space as they were on duty and they demanded that a fine be extracted from the woman to defend their honour.”

What is odd here is that Spanish police publish on Facebook images of police vehicles and officers carrying out their duties.

Clearly, such photographs are usually those that only display a positive image of the police, unlike the one posted by the woman in question.

In the recent Hull incident, the police apologised, which is as it should be, but the Spanish example shows why Parliament always needs to be vigilant in ensuring that proposals to deal with one problem do not allow the law to be used oppressively for a different purpose.