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Saturday, November 19, 2005

 

I think Ian Blair has a point....

About the kind of Police service the public and the politicians are demanding. As an interested bystander who occasionally gets the opportunity to watch the coppers up close, I do get to see the conflicting demands of an uncooperative public foisted upon them.

Everyone wants to feel safe and have clean quiet streets to live in, but own up, how many of you out there are willing to stand up and do the ‘right thing’? For those of you who might make immature, sneering ‘Dudley do-right’ remarks, I’d say, what’s wrong with doing the right thing? What is wrong with being fair, honest and decent? Not behaving in an anti social manner, doing stuff for your local community. Okay, yes, yes, I was a boy scout once (Until that little game of ‘spin the bottle’ with that Girl Guide troop. Well, nobody’s perfect.).

The public wants to feel safe on the streets. They want to see more uniformed foot patrols. However, it is my personal experience that (With notable exceptions) the public does not want their little Johnny / Jane arrested for being drunk and abusive in a public place because their darling child couldn’t possibly be guilty. The attitude seems to be, “Arrest him officer, not me. What this baseball bat? Oh no, I was on my way to play a game really.” How many times have the media interviewed tearful parents of malefactors saying things like, “’E were a good boy. ‘E wouldn’t do nuffin like that.” (The middle classes really have gone downhill lately: -).

I’ve come across many quite ‘respectable’ people (Nice house, nice car, nice clothes, you know, ‘nice.’) who wouldn’t cross the street to someone in need. People who wouldn’t even call the Police if there was a problem in their street. So long as they are safe, they don’t care. They don’t want to get involved. Yet if their little foibles get found out they scream the house down and demand ‘fair’ treatment (Or at least their lawyers do.). These are the very same people who think that they can abuse the parking regulations, then bitch about a lousy parking ticket when they get caught.

By contrast, I’ve encountered less well off folk who have not hesitated to help and ‘step into the breach’ when occasion demanded. There are a lot of people out there who want to be left in peace to get on with their lives, raising families, making good homes that will turn out if there is a problem.

Let’s face it; the problems we face aren’t going to be solved just by politicians passing laws. If it were that easy we’d already be living in a peaceful paradise (Or rather not, it seems to be part of the human condition never to be satisfied.). The problem is how, if said laws are fully enforced, do we cope with the consequences?

People are screaming out for more beat officers, but do not see the pressures of budget and resources the Police face. On the one hand you have the law abiding people who want a visible Police presence, but they want only the ‘bad’ people arrested. The very self same seem to people forget that in Britain we have historically had consensual policing. This means that the Police need the active cooperation of the public they serve. Without it they cannot function effectively. Without that consent and cooperation they need draconian repressive powers to function in the way the public, via their elected representatives demand; and what does absolute power do children? Got it in one.

Discounting some of the stranger aspects of his recent speech, I would reiterate a paraphrased version of Ian Blair’s question. What do the British public want from their Police? Apart from everything that is.

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Exasperated expatriate expostulations all the way from British Columbia, Canada. As if anyone really cared. Oh, I also watch Icelandic Volcanoes and seismic activity. Don't ask me why.

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