Sunday, August 14, 2011

The respective roles of the Police and Politicians.

Over the last week, the regard in which the police are held by the British people has increased significantly. So has public understanding about the main role of the police - retaining public order, and by whatever force is needed. We all hope the police can defend us and our property without using excessive force, but if needs be force must be used. Because we have not felt for many years that our way of life has been threatened by the sort of thuggish criminal behaviour we saw last week, we have become complacent. We are not complacent now, and have a much clearer idea of what the police are for. They are what stands between us and Hobbsian anarchy.

But none of this means that the police are beyond questioning. And while operational matters are entirely for the police, there is a role for politicians in questioning, in taking an opinion on performance, and in developing overall strategic direction. After all, we pass the laws. The police cannot be a law unto themselves. Its the politicians responsible for the police that have to stand before public scrutiny. Not sure that every senior policeman gets this. Reading today's press has strengthened my support for the introduction of elected police commissioners. Accountability matters.

Two other issues bother me as well. Firstly all this conjecture about Bill Bratton - and I've no idea whether he would want to run the Met or whether anyone would want him to. But it seems illogical to me to limit the application list to just British police personnel. I cannot think of a single reason why this should be. We want the best person available to take on what is one of the most difficult jobs in the country. And in my opinion, it doesn't matter where they come from.

And finally, there's the matter of police funding. I do not like reducing police funding, just as I do not like reducing defence spending, or education funding, or charity support, or S4C spending etc., etc.. (Maybe I'd support transferring the massive subsidies for onshore wind farms though) We have a huge deficit and threatening debts, and we have a credible deficit reduction plan, which has made the UK a 'safe haven' and kept our borrowing costs very low. Any backsliding under pressure will cause huge damage to our credibility with the international markets. Its just not going to happen. The price would be too high. I know that this is not a popular view at the moment, but as it was last week, and it is for everyone else, it comes down to a question of operational priorities for the police. And they must have the support of politicians to deliver on their priorities. Which is why I think MPs should be making a point of emphasising how much they value the police at the moment. Its a tough time for them.


Anonymous said...

I recall a prediction a wee while ago predicting a "MEGA ECONOMIC STORM" and a suggestion that Wales needs to focus more on converting its most valuable asset into job/wealth creation. No one took any notice, but now we are a position if we don't then it's going to be 'more downhill stuff for us' and yet the cost of what I propose is actually next to zip.

We need a national emphasis on job creation via innovation led export drive. This is the only way we are going to compete, and compete well, with China et al.

By closing the trade gap will have massive squeeze affect on our structural deficit problem and hence relieve the need for big cutbacks in police and particularly defense.

Singapore and China didn't get where they are today by chance. There was a government emphasis on export led job creation. Many of the jobs of course coming from the UK/USA et al.

The larger and healthier our economy, the easier it is to maintain a strong defense.

Our credibility need not depend on cutbacks; it should depend on our exports! China has learnt that, and we need to relearn the same lesson.

And now "The Prestige"; the more we drag our heels on this, the more we will suffer as a nation, the more the West will lose credibility and that includes the UK which right now is draining credibility as it drains its national defense of aircraft carriers, Harriers (entire fleet taken out of service), Nimrod cutbacks, Frigate cutbacks, armed service strength cutbacks, no nuclear bomb etc. cw

bonetired said...

Brilliantly put. You left unspoken the corrosive role of ACPO which seems now to becoming a senior officers trades union rather than a forum for cross-fertilization of ideas.

ifor said...

We want the best person available to take on what is one of the most difficult jobs in the country. And in my opinion, it doesn't matter where they come from.
does that apply fto mps too?

Anonymous said...

My mother always taught me to be respectful at all times and never tell lies, as it would get me into trouble. I am disgusted by the riots but I am equally disgusted by the number of people lying about figures on wind farms and renewable energy. Surely these people should be punished also.