Tuesday, March 08, 2011

Politics of Police Cuts

Tom Winsor has concluded a review of Police pay and conditions for the government with a recommendation that savings of up to £60 million are achievable. By a bizarre and disturbing coincidence on the very same day the Association of Chief Police Officers have published a report saying that government reductions in spending will cost 28000 police and back-office jobs over the next four years. Apparently they couldn't have put this out last Friday or tomorrow, it had to be today, on the same day as a detailed report on police practices, some of which seem more appropriate to the Bow Street Runners.

Just how stupid do they think we are?

There was a time when the police in the UK had very high public support, but shenanigans like this one are at least part of the reason why this has decreased markedly. In the past no government would have dared to tamper with the arcane overtime practices enjoyed by the police, but after the War on the Motorist, a senior police officer standing up at an inquest and stating that it is no part of the police role to control the streets, two women bleeding to death because a police firearms team was too worried about Health and Safety to do their job and things like that idiot firearms officer putting song titles into his inquest evidence about his shooting a man dead then public support has waned somewhat. In the latter case the excuse put forward was that the firearms officer was too stupid to do something complicated like inserting song titles into his statement. He was apparently bright enough to be trusted with battlefield-class weapons and to make split-second, life and death decisions though.

Again, this is not a matter of how stupid he was but how stupid the police think we all are.

We need to get back to a point where respected police services deliver both public safety and criminals to be prosecuted. The coalition plan for elected police commissioners is desperately needed. Of course, the police don't like it, being perfectly happy with the current situation where the Chief Constable occasionally reports to a committee of people whose names you have never heard of.

Accountability will be better for the police and better for the rest of us. I cannot believe that most of the abuses of the last few years would have happened if there was someone to carry the can for them in an actual election.

Democracy actually works you know.


Anonymous said...

The question really, Stephen, is how stupid do you think we are?

Now let me think, when the Labour government were tackling large police budgets by attempting to merge forces and get savings from merging back-office functions and under utilised specialist units you opposed it. We shouldn't, you argued, diminish the morale and reputation of this fine upstanding body of officers.

Look at your post of 13th December 2007, which argues against tampering with Police pay agreements to save £30m "in terms of loss of goodwill with a very important interest group the price is much higher than that". What is the scenario there - well you give it: "it's not inflation, it's government finances that are the problem and everyone knows this".

Yet despite this history of supporting the Police, we now have a complete about face. What has changed? The Police? No. The situation? No.

The only thing that has changed is the colour of the government. Basically Cllr Horgan, you are incapable of labelling any Tory idea as wrong; you are incapable of independent thought.

Steve Horgan said...

Annoying a large part of the police in order to save £30m, was politically stupid.

The government needs to save money, no one can be surprised at that, but, being Conservatives, they are trying to fix the entire problem, not muck around at the edges. So, the current arcane system of police pay and conditions needs work, as does the matter of police accountability. This is personified in the activities of ACPO, which has no democratic accountability whatsoever, but still seeks to dictate much of current Law and Order policy.

Conservatives are proposing comprehensive solutions to deal with the real issues, while Labour did essentially nothing and you wonder which I would support?