First, they arrest a woman for reciting the names of British troops killed in Iraq in an otherwise peaceful protest near the Cenotaph. Maya Evans, who had fallen foul of a clause in the Serious and Organised Crime and Police Act, was duly convicted last week, given a conditional discharge and left with a criminal record.
Then, an author taking part in a broadcast discussion about gay adoptions was telephoned by a policewoman and informed that her name had been noted following a complaint that she had made a "homophobic" remark on air. Lynette Burrows had offered her opinion that two homosexual men should not be allowed to adopt a boy, which is a view with which you may agree or disagree, but does not warrant a call from the local constabulary.
She was told that, although a crime had not been committed, it was policy to record details of such complaints, so Mrs Burrows is now, presumably, on some sinister register of people who express views that are not considered acceptable. Needless to say, she was flabbergasted to receive such a call. "This is a free country and we are entitled to express opinions on matters of public interest," she said.
But this is no longer true, though it is not the fault of the police. It is the fault of the Government for promoting laws that criminalise opinions judged unfashionable or objectionable, and of Parliament for passing them.