It is chilling that cops, whose only business should be fighting crime, now want to hear about non-crime. Anyone who has even a sliver of respect for the ideal of liberty, for the right of people to go about their lives without being watched or narked on, should be seriously concerned that cops would want to hear about non-criminal behavior, otherwise known as everyday behavior.
Even more perversely, these non-crimes really just mean “insulting comments.” So if you’re in Yorkshire and someone on Facebook calls you a fat slob, call the cops. If you wear a niqab and a work colleague tells you—a la Boris Johnson—that you look a little bit like a mailbox, phone the police.
In essence, South Yorkshire Police want people to report on everyday conversations. This is Stasi territory. Coppers asking citizens to file reports on things they have read or overheard really should have disappeared from Europe with the fall of the Berlin Wall. Yet here it still is, this GDR-style instruction to eavesdrop and squeal, though now it’s happening on the other side of the old Iron Curtain.
George Orwell intended 1984 to be a warning, not a how-to guide, as did the producers of The Lives of Others.