|>>|| No. 12647
These sorts of laws are tools. You'll sometimes hear them euphemistically referred to as "ways and means". On the one hand, they're there to provide a way of dealing with someone you might not otherwise be able to deal with. For example, if someone's getting a bit rough and a police officer happens to hear them swear, expect that person to be booked for s.5 Public Order Act, left in the cells to cool down and released without charge in the morning. Of course, since the law is there, the temptation exists to use it, as routinely happens in the case of s.5 across the country, where eventually either the CPS drops the charges before trial, or the court adds yet another case to the long list of decisions stating that, due to the nature of the job, front line officers have no business being alarmed or distressed by a bit of language.
Some of our older users may remember the time Iceland was briefly declared a terrorist state in order to freeze assets for a completely unrelated reason. It's the same problem that afflicts things like the Investigatory Powers Act, and should really have been at the heart of the Brexit legislation - once the powers exist, there's no effective check on how they can be used.