Police are to be given sweeping powers to arrest people for every offence, including dropping litter, failure to wear a seat belt and other minor misdemeanours.
The measures, which come into force on Jan 1, are the biggest expansion in decades of police powers to deprive people of their liberty.
At present, officers can generally arrest people if they suspect them of committing an offence which carries at least five years in prison. They will now have the discretion to detain someone if they suspect any offence and think that an arrest is "necessary".
Hazel Blears, the Home Office minister, said: "It is vital that the police are equipped with the powers they need to enable them to do their jobs properly and effectively. The powers need to be updated to reflect modern policing priorities and the changing nature of criminal activity.The only reason criminal activity is changing is because nuLabour have brought in 5300 new arrestable offences in the last few years! Liberty is becoming an absent friend we should remember on New Year's Eve.
Mind you - there must be a small bonus in this nuLabour/nuThinking stuff. If the police end up with the power to arrest any lolliopop-stick sucking juvenile, there can be no case for Identity Cards. Who needs them in a police state anyway? "If I say you're nicked sunshine, you're nicked"