Another unfortunate legacy of the Blair Brown Regime has been a politicized and confused police service in Britain.
The riots in British cities during recent days has demonstrated the need for root and branch reform of police forces. A huge amount of money has been squandered under the Blair Brown Regime, where police corruption and incompetence have been ignored in favour of a concentration on political correctness. At a time of financial stringency, the Coalition Government should be concentrating on stamping out corruption, reducing waste and refocusing police back onto tackling crime.
When a Chief Constable considers it essential to detail a number of police officers to run up Gay Pride flags at her police stations something is seriously wrong. The is no reason why a police station needs to fly any flags, other than perhaps the national flag on specific occasions of celebration or sorrow. It is essential that police stations are manned 24 x 7 because criminals do not work a 9 to 5, five day week with time off for holidays. Although there may be justification for flying national flags on special occasions, all a police station really requires is a name board that shows it is a polic station and that its doors are open to the public in times of distress. “Health & Safety” excuses for closing station doors to protect police, while they watch citizens on CCTV being violently attached outside a police station, is another politically correct failure of policing, as is a situation were police officers watch a child drown, in water they could wade through, because they have not been on a recognized course.
When police officers routinely sell information and accept money for other services, that is simple corruption and should be stamped out very quickly. That it is widespread is no justification. Equally, a police officer should never accept any gift or money from anyone, beyond the normal gifts exchanged within families. Accepting thousands of pounds in money, or some other form, from a “friend” is always a potential weakness. That can produce difficult situations and the judgement can be suspect when viewed later by others. One very simple option would be to place a value limit on gifts, require the officer to record the gift, and require the officer to notify a superior or publish a list of gifts. That would allow every officer some discretion in the areas between small family gifts and gifts that are highly questionable, potentially place the officer in some vulnerability at a later time. The problem is that there are already a number of laws and police regulations that cover the acceptance of gifts and inducements, but they have clearly not been adequately enforced. It is now an urgent matter to either enforce existing laws and regulations, or replace them with new conditions that can be enforced.
The challenge will be to find a way to remove incompetence and corruption without resulting in few surviving police officers. It may not be easy but it is an essential high priority.
One consequence of the riots is that police still seem unable to manage armed incidents. The failure to discipline the police officer in charge of the killing of an innocent unarmed Brazilian electrician, and to prosecute the armed death squad officers involved, has left the risk of a community assuming the worst when a citizen is shot by armed police who issues justifications that later turn out to be lies attempting to hide an unlawful killing. The crime was not in the killing, although it might demand some form of sanction on some officers, but in the willingness of officers to lie to a court in an attempt to cover up an error
The incident that led to peaceful protest, that was hijacked by thugs and criminals, is just another sad incident in the catalogue of questionable police shootings. The initial justification was that the victim had fired first on police and shot an officer who was saved only because his radio slowed or stopped the bullet. It then transpires that the bullet was a police issue dum-dum. This raises two questions: why are the police using ammunition which is denied to armies under the Geneva Convention? was the officer shot accidentally or deliberately by another police officer?
One possible excuse for issuing deadly expanding ammunition is that it is less likely to pass through a body and hit a police officer or innocent civilian. That may be advanced as an excuse but there are other options for reducing the risk of a bullet passing through the body of a target with sufficient force to cause death or injury to someone else. This approach was necessary on airliners where a bullet potentially could cause depressurization by passing through the pressure hull of the aircraft at altitude. Then there are other non-lethal options such as tazers and non-lethal gas. The dum-dum round was prohibited in war because it caused terrible wounds and made recovery unlikely, but guaranteed a great deal of suffering.
There are far too many incidents where police appear to have been issued with firearms where they have demonstrated a lack of adequate training and where the management of an incident has been shown to be inadequate. Whether this proves the case in the incident that lead to the riots remains to be seen, but there are enough other incidents to demonstrate an urgent need to review the occasions when police should be armed, the firearms training they receive, the evaluation of officers as people who can be trusted with firearms, and the training of senior officers in the control of armed incidents. A firearm is an almost completely neutral object until a live round has been inserted. From that point, the level of risk is entirely down to the judgement of the person holding the gun. The danger of arming police is that a cowboy mentality can develop where its shoot first and drive with lights and sirens on at the least excuse. The balance between issuing the equipment to deal with the most serious incidents and the training of police officers to control incidents with minimum force appears to have been lost as police were focused under the Blair Brown Regime to fill in forms where a tick box mentality developed and where officers spent more time in police stations filling in forms than they did on the streets protecting communities.
Clearly the recent riots demonstrate an inadequate response by police to the initial incidents that led to them completely losing control in the riot areas. One early priority for the Prime Minister, the Home Secretary, the Lord Mayor, and police authorities in other affected cities, must be an analysis of police failure during the riots, but a widespread review of policing is also urgently required.
BSD News Desk