Breach of the peace is a concept born in the quiet conformist society of yesterday when much that we consider quite normal in modern society, from motor cars to gay pride marches would have been obviously a "breach of the peace".
The law is particularly badly abused in Scotland where the test is particularly lax "making the burghers fearful". Taken literally, anyone who might be mistaken for a terrorist from a muslim with a rucksac, to a pregnant woman to someone with a facial deformity… is committing a crime, because however mistaken, there is something about them that makes others fearful.
In its place we should have specific laws to deal with the many things with are legitimately covered by the present law:
1. Rowdiness in public – together with guidelines regarding time, place and special events
2. Actions intended to cause fear or disturbance should be illegal (with suitable safeguards), but there must be a proven intention not as at the moment a passive "someone is worried that pregnant looking woman has a bomb under her blouse".
3. There should be specfici provisions to stop the police acting to stop legal activities on the pretence that the legal activities are "breaching the peace" particularly when the only people who are concerned are the police themselves.
Why is this idea important?
In recent years, the police have increasingly been arresting people for "breach of the peace" despite the fact that this is a totally outdated piece of legislation with no effective definition of what is and is not breach of the peace which is being used by the police to criminalise any activity they don't like.
Having read the law on breach of the peace and the human rights act, I can't see how they are compatible, because there is absolutely no way anyone can know what some particularly officer might just take their fancy to decide is breaching the peace.
So, in effect this is an excuse to allow the police to arrest anyone anywhere for pretty much anything they don't like which is clearly contrary to the spirit if not the letter of the human rights act.
A very noticeable example is the way the police use breach of the peace to stop photography, despite the fact that it is not entirely legal to take pictures in public, it is in fact against the human rights act for the police to interfere with our right to "free speech" (which includes any inforamtio