RIPA and the Riots: Give the Police the same rights as the Press

I have just received a comment which links my recent posts on the need to review RIPA and PACE (to remove the paralysis by paperwork that led to police being overwhelmed on the first nights of the recent riots) and on the need to put the phone hacking scandal into the context of computer hacking and the increasingly common sale of our on-line personal information by who-ever can access it to who-ever will pay.

” … in view of the phone hacking scandal, it seems a bit out of balance that there is the public interest defence available to the press retrospectively after they have acquired information by illicit means.  They need no prior authorisation before using such methods, unlike our intelligence services.”

Should we not give the police a similar defence – alongside the right to use whatever they found as evidence in court ?

Answers should fit on one side of the Wailing Wall, with a summary that will fit on a Blarney Stone.