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.