Having de-stressed myself from the perils of Rest Day 3 (the construction of my youngest’s new bedroom furniture from the cheerily delivered fourteen boxes, all complete with instructions in German, Portuguese, Swahili, Inuit and any other language but English) it struck me that the plan to improve policing in the UK is in fact a simple one …..
Whether you read the various blogs (of which I hope you find this one worthwhile; to pinch a phrase from someone else, I’m not Inspector Gadget lol), follow Twitterings, go through the moans on Facebook, or simply adopted that old fashioned and some would say out-dated approach of actually talking to your colleagues, it quickly becomes apparent that there are a good 140,000 or so people in this country who know exactly how to make the police work for the people.
These are of course, the police officers we already have (yours truly included). You won’t have to get very far into conversation with any officer; Response Bobby, Neighbourhood Policing, CID Officer (if you can wake them up – sorry only joking !!), or other department, before they will tell you …. with 100% accuracy …. exactly what is wrong with the way in which the various police forces are run and focussed in the UK today.
So then, why is it, if so many people know what is wrong, and where the problems lay, that we are still in this state. How can the move to the third floor so efficiently remove all traces of your ability to police effectively and replace that with a lobotomised excuse for a leader of men (and women). Maybe they become hypnotised by the swinging pendulum that is the distant but regularly achievable OBE dangling on that shiny silk ribbon ……. as long as they toe the line.
Remember some guy called Robert Peel once came up with a list of priorities, or rather principles, for policing which thanks to the efforts of successive Governments’ meddling and politicisation of the Police Service, we seem to have strayed away from. To remind you, those principles were:
- The basic mission for which the police exist is to prevent crime and disorder.
- The ability of the police to perform their duties is dependent upon the public approval of police actions.
- Police must secure the willing co-operation of the public in voluntary observation of the law to be able to secure and maintain the respect of the public.
- The degree of co-operation of the public that can be secured diminishes proportionately to the necessity of the use of physical force.
- Police seek and preserve public favour not by catering to public opinion, but by constantly demonstrating absolute impartial service to the law.
- Police use physical force to the extent necessary to secure observance of the law or to restore order only when the exercise of persuasion, advice, and warning is found to be insufficient.
- Police, at all times, should maintain a relationship with the public that gives reality to the historic tradition that the police are the public and the public are the police; the police being only members of the public who are paid to give full-time attention to duties which are incumbent upon every citizen in the interests of community welfare and existence.
- Police should always direct their action strictly towards their functions, and never appear to usurp the powers of the judiciary.
- The test of police efficiency is the absence of crime and disorder, not the visible evidence of police action in dealing with it.
It matters not how times have changed since 1829 when Peel established the Metropolitan Police in London, the worlds first ‘modern’ police force. It’s well documented that the Police, even then, were not popular with certain sections of the community who became very vocal and active on the matter, leading to concerns the police were ‘a bad idea’. Thing was though, it was the miscreants, law breakers and ne’er-do-wells that were doing the complaining – the very people these early officers were targeting; dealing with; bringing to justice.
This is not dissimilar to today – the people who complain most about the police now are the very, very small minority that we have to deal with on a daily basis; those that cause pain, discomfort and difficulty for the rest of society and don’t like to be told to stop ‘cos I know my rights innit’. The difference today is that we pander to them, continually giving them ground rather than pushing them back into a corner, much to the detriment of the hard working, law abiding majority of good people within our societies.
Put it this way – other than as a victim of burglary, theft or car crime, how many ‘decent’ members of your local community have you had to deal with this month ?
Back in 1829, the much larger, but silent majority were apparently very, very pleased with what the police achieved; and what they did manage within a few years was a massive reduction in crime. They were so successful that by 1857, all cities in the UK were obliged to form their own police forces based on the ‘Peel Principles’.
We live in a different world today, but each and every one of Peel’s Principles does still apply. By scrapping all the shiny buzzwords, lead weight enwrapped paperwork, Brussels dictat and OBE grabbing headlines away, and returning to these basic ideals, we could turn the face of British policing round in an instant.
Maybe, rather than the Head of a major PLC or and ex-underwear model running for one of these new-fangled Police Commissioner Posts, they should be restricted to applications only from frontline police officers – who actually know how to do the job and make it better.