Friday, 21 September 2007

'Crisis in Policing'

(NB: Since I wrote this in the morning, the news has just broken of the inquest of a 10 year old who drowned whilst a pair of "Police Community Support Officers" stood by and watched. Apparently because 'it would have been inappropriate for PCSOs, who are not trained in water rescue, to enter the pond").

This week, police blogger/whistle-blower Stuart Davidson is unmasked. He paints a picture of himself and his colleagues as misunderstood, plausible well-meaning chaps frustrated because the whole system is falling apart under a mountain of bureaucracy and political correctness.

Not really my own experience with the police.

And I’m not talking about the the numerous un-provoked and brutal attacks on peaceful demonstrations that I have witnessed over the years. Nothing as political as that. I’m thinking of the five occasions in the past ten years or so that I had dealings with them, however mundane or trivial.

• When we were burgled – living at the time on a new built estate there was a spate of break-ins. The police told us that they would mount a surveillance operation and not to be alarmed if we saw any of their plain-clothes offices in the bushes; we could easily identify them because they ‘would be white’(we live in an area with a large black community)...

• When there was a 999 call reported from our elderly neighbour’s house – two officers knocked on the door to say that a call had been made from the house but no voice could be heard – could we help ? We invited them to hop over the back fence and investigate. Not being in the best of shape they couldn’t actually make it over the fence, so , after breaking the fence and trampling the flowerbeds, they gave up. But they did tell us to get in touch if we didn’t see the neighbour for a few days or if we detected ‘any funny smells’…

• When the alarm went off at our kids’ nursery school – we got a call from the security company as we were key-holders. It was after midnight so we phoned the police station, less than a quarter of a mile away from the nursery, to ask if they would attend. They were ‘too busy’ and we were told we would have to investigate it ourselves...

* When my bike was vandalised whilst parked in the West End. A very nice bloke from the CID phoned me up to discuss it. He also had a Harley and we had a good natter about bikes ...

• When I had my Swiss army knife confiscated at our local ‘carnival’ - actually village fete would be a more accurate description but because this is a largely black area in inner London we have a massive police presence with metal detectors at the entrance. I was found to be in possession of a perfectly legal penknife that I have carried for about twenty years. I was told that whilst I hadn’t committed an offence, the police were confiscating it and got a receipt to reclaim it later. Afterwards I went to the station three times but was told; they didn’t have any record of it / it was in the safe and they didn’t have the key (!) / it had been given to CID at Area HQ and they’d get in touch. They didn’t - so I gave up ...

There you go – all absolutely true and with no embellishment.

In best New Labour fashion here are the findings from this brief survey:
20% of outcomes were positive: the police were pleasant and professional
80% of outcomes were negative; the police were at times rude, lazy, incompetent, dishonest and racist.

I would therefore suggest that the recommendations for the policing crisis are not a matter of more funding or resources, but a higher standard of police officer.

We all know that they have a difficult job to do – so why must we rely on fuckwits to do it ?

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