Wednesday, 29 April 2009

Your Government Wants You... stop moaning about crime; to stop finding criminals not guilty; to pay convicted criminals money for being released early from prison (the Utopian Police Force can then get a further sanctioned detection when they've re-arrested them for re-burglarising you).

This government has transformed the police services of England and Wales from one that is accountable to the British public and whose success was measured by the support it received from that public, into one that is accountable to the Home Office and therefore only to the government. Traditionally, the police service was measured through the British Crime Survey, which allowed us (the police) to determine if the fear of crime was increasing or decreasing amongst the public.

However, the government felt that you are all a frighfully worrisome lot, who wrongly declared that the fear of crime was rising, despite the best efforts of the government to prove the contrary. So how did New Labour overcome these unfavourable statistics? Simple. Create another system whereby different statistics would be presented, demonstrating that crime was in fact reducing. In came the measuring of police performance through sanctioned detections. Much has been said about the pressures officers are under to administer these to hardened criminals, such as the boy who threw an egg at a window and who subsequently received a youth reprimand for criminal damage, so I will say no more. Nevertheless, more people who were being arrested were being charged, thanks to the determination of the government to stop police officers from using their discretionary powers in such matters.

It's a little known fact, but the government also wanted to do away with a crucial element of the British judicial system that has been adopted, and held in high regard, by nations throughout the world - the right to trial by jury. Mr Blair viewed the British public with utter contempt, believing you to be incapable of rational thought. Too many of you found that too many of the evidently guilty were, in your opinion, innocent. This put the Crown Prosecution Service in an unfavourable light and highlighted the possibility that defence barristers and solicitors are much better at their job than the Crown (although this is well known to be a fact amongst police officers). As you have probably deduced by now, this government adores statistics and you, the British pubilc, were messing their statistics up.

Not too many years ago, the charging decision lay with the Custody Sergeant. They would weigh up all of the evidence presented to them from the investigating officer, and should that evidence not be watertight, would frequently charge the suspect whilst muttering the words ,"We'll let the magistrate/jury decide". It is this component of our constitution - the right to a fair trial - that has been long accepted as being a fundamental human right. However, the right to a fair trial applies equally to the victims as well as the accused. This right is now being circumvented, because the investigating officer now goes direct to the CPS for 'charging 'advice' (for 'charging advice' please read 'No Further Action'). Bound by their own performance targets, unless the CPS is absolutely satisfied that a successful prosecution will ensue, they will not recommend a charge. So, if the suspect comes up with a really good excuse in interview (or invariably not a really good one, just an excuse) the CPS will not charge because you might find them innocent. You might have found them guilty, but we'll never know. Still, the number of convictions achieved at court now look excellent, all thanks to the government - the statistics prove it!

This government has, as in many areas of its policy, attempted to predict social change but has completely failed, largely because it consists of individuals who do not possess the necessary experience to facilitate it. Would you feel more comfortable knowing that a senior police officer recommended new legislation for reducing crime? Or would you prefer some individual who graduated from Oxford, and who thought a Council Estate was a make of car, to make these decisions? I've just realised that most of the Chief Constables fit into both of these categories, but you get my drift. To highlight the point I am making, consider the raft of legislation this government introduced since it came into power in 1997. 365 Acts of Parliament and 32,000 statutory instruments. There were 64,530 prisoners in 1999, now there are over 81,016. All very noble, but not one minister had the foresight to see that this would require more prisons. Remarkable.

I am sure that the government would argue that, nevertheless, more of the right people are being sent to prison. As a police officer, I and many victims can also tell you that more of the wrong people are also being released early due to prison overcrowding. Oh, and they are to be given more money upon early release to the tune of £100 and 6-month's rent paid (that's my tax money and the victim's tax money) to compensate them for the loss of security that they would have otherwise enjoyed at Her Majesty's Pleasure. Incidently, this is the same government that refused to back-date police officer's pay to the princely sum of £155 each. How's that for a statistic?

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Sunday, 26 April 2009

A Time to Reflect

It was with great sadness that I read about the death of PC Gary Toms. PC Toms was a CO19 officer with the MPS, and had responded to a robbery call in Leyton, East London on the 11th of April. He suffered a serious head injury when the suspects decamped from a vehicle and was subsequently hospitalised. On Friday the 17th of April his life support machine was turned off. My thoughts are with PC Toms' family, friends and colleagues at this time. What was particularly pertinent for me was to see that PC Toms had one year's less service than I, and was also 37 years of age. I wonder if he was married, as am I, and if he had a beautiful baby daughter, as I do. I wonder how many times throughout his shift, he thought of his family and loved ones, and hoped that no call came in towards the end of the tour that woud delay his being with them. I have no doubt that his family are immensely proud of the officer, and I have no doubt that the officer always performed his duties to the best of his ability, as do all of the officers I work with and have worked with throughout my career.
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Saturday, 25 April 2009

An Introduction

'By Conservative principles we mean the maintenance of Our Settled Institutions in Church and State and also the preservation and defence of that combination of laws, of institutions, of usages, of habits and of manners which has contributed to mould and form the character of Englishmen'.

Hello, and welcome to my blog, 'The Thinking Policeman'. I do hope you enjoy it. I do hope someone reads it in order to enjoy it. Actually, I don't really mind if it is read and not enjoyed, just so long as it is read by someone other than my wife.

The opening quote was written by Sir Robert Peel, the founder of the world's first professional police force, the Metropolitan Police. I have always loved this passage, because it succinctly summarises my admiration for the British constitution and its development throughout the ages. I am very much a conservative with a small 'c', in that I do not align myself to any political party. By being a conservative, I mean that I adhere to the philosophical principles of unbridled pride in the nation's established customs and institutions, organicism, and a seething contempt for abstract theorising.

So how does all of this fit into my role as a police officer? Well, it's for the above reasons I joined the police, because I believed it to be a manifestation of those principles. Unfortunately, the Communitarianism theory behind New Labour (sounds a lot like Communism don't you think? Coincidence? I think not), has systematically set about deconstructing much of what I have cherished. Many of the gradual responses to change that had been met by men and women in positions of practical political experience throughout history, and which had stood the test of time, have been replaced with disastrous experiments based on New Labour's speculative predictions and theorising.

So what on earth is this blog about I hear you ask? Is it a blog about philosophy? Is it a blog about policing? Well, it's both. It's a blog about the Philosophy of Policing. I will be commenting on contemporary issues and media responses to policing but, in order to fully understand why the police services of the UK have lost their way, I will at times be introducing concepts from the great philosophers and politicians I admire such as Hooker, Hume, Halifax and Burke, as well as those of Locke, Rousseau and Hobbes, whose concepts I don't necessarily agree with, but who have all somehow contributed to our perception of the state and how it should be policed.

I hope that my first blog will begin to make sense of all that I have written in my introduction but, as with most things to do with policing in the UK, I doubt that any real sense can be made of it at all! I shall certainly try. Of course, I shall have to share my experiences of encounters with the marvellous public who live within the city of Utopia. They have their own unique perspective on many issues, which have largely been imparted to them by that great daytime television philosopher, Jeremy Kyle.
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