Now I am not just referring to the case of Ian Tomlinson the bystander who died of a heart attack shortly after being hit (allegedly) by a police officer at the G20. No, I am basing my statement on the fact that the Police appear are, for all intents and purposes, a law unto themselves.
Unless you are very lucky, anyone that has had to report a crime to the Police will be aware that they (the Police) are the ultimate arbiter as to which crimes they will investigate and which one’s they will not. This is likely to depend on what their local priorities are, which can range from Government targets, to a local, ‘wet behind the ears’ Police Inspector’s latest management wheeze, designed only to progress his career. A friend of mine has a business which is in a street just behind the main police station, it has been plagued for over 5 years by open drug dealing, anti-social behaviour, criminal damage, tenant intimidation and arson. The best the Police can do is send a PCSO around the industrial estate once or twice a day, the ‘local’ bobby was moved off the area nearly 2 years ago. He has not been replaced.
A neighbour of mine has complained 3 times over a period of 5 weeks about cars parking on the ‘zig-zags’ outside her children’s school. She was prompted into action after witnessing a near miss accident when a child ran onto a crossing, he could not see the car and the driver could not see him because of 3 other cars being parked on the zig zags. The first time she complained, a PCSO was sent over, but only one person dared to park on the zig zags that day, but the PCSO could do nothing anyway. Then a traffic officer promised to do several drive-by’s at the appropriate time, a promise he failed to keep. On the 3rd complaint, the local police officer “promised” to deal with the issue, that was two weeks before the kids broke up for Easter, nothing happened. What has made her particularly angry, is that she has witnessed 5 police cars over the period in question manoeuvre their own vehicles around those illegally parked without do anything about it, not so much as a warning.
The Government has recently launched a new initiative designed to ‘engage’ with the public, but no-one seems to have told their front-line staff. If you try and speak to your local officer you must go through their call centre, staff will record the information and state that they will pass it on to the relevany departement, but offer no promises of any action. If the police do respond, it will not be a proper copper, it will be a PCSO. If you want to lodge a complaint you cannot speak to a ‘senior officer’ (by that they mean anyone of sergeant level of above, yep…a sergeant) by telephone, no, you must go into the station.
My car was hit my an uninsured motorcyclist. To his (the drivers) credit he gave me his correct name and details. When I went to the police station, I had to give all of the details to a civilian, not a police officer. The police never contacted me about the issue, I had to chase them, when I eventually got an answer they said they would be taking no action because there was no independent witness. I can tell you, that I KNOW they never even visited the other driver, much less investigated the incident, it was just swept under the carpet. They did not even bother to come and get a statement from me, something that had been promised. This is just a small microcosm of what is happening today, little wonder, that in spite of there being over 150,000 police officers, crime is up, detection is down and people feel less safe than ever before.
Meanwhile, everytime the Police want more powers, Jacqui Smith gives in to them. The police have unprecedented powers, they can even decide on whether or not we can exercise our ‘democratic right’ to demonstrate. At the G20, the Police effectively (and illegally) detained thousands of people by shepherding them into certain areas and then insisting that they remain there. What civilised democracy allows their police to act in such a way? When the Police decided that the demonstrations must end, they then acted like street yobs themselves by bullying, for the most part, well-behaved and peaceful protesters. I do not, nor would I ever criticise the Police for dealing quickly and decisively with those breaking the law, acting in a threatening manner or intent on trouble at such demonstrations, but to tar everyone with the same brush is completely unacceptable.
The film of Tomlinson appears to show an unprovoked attack on someone who was trying to go home and had no part in the demonstrations. The film depicts an image of a police office hitting him with a baton and then shoving him over. The man had his hands in his pockets and his back to the Police, he was even walking away, based on the filmed evidence he posed no threat to the officers. That did not stop one Police Officer acting in a manner that was completely unacceptable and reckless. Only a complete idiot would push a man with such force that he could fall forward, but would only be able to break the fall if he was to get his hands out of his pockets in time. This action was captured on film, prior to that the Police were denying that there was any interaction between them and the victim. There is no suggestion here that the actions of the Police were a contributory factor to the mans death, instead, I contend that the Police Officer, on the face of it, acted in what appeared to be an aggressive and unprofessional manner. Further, the Police tactics of dealing with the G20 demonstrators amounted to nothing other than illegal detention, it must not happen on our streets again.
The current Police baton is a very serious piece of kit and would be considered an illegal weapon if carried by a civilian, because it could prove lethal. Yet the Police routinely bring out the baton when there is NO threat, just watch any ‘fly on the wall’ programme on the Police service. Officers also have CS gas and now, all front line officers are to be ‘armed’ with lethal Tasers. Have the public been provided with any safeguards against rogue or over-zealous Police Officers, no, in fact they (the Police) can now rely on new legislation to prevent anyone filming them? Little wonder people refer to this country becoming a Police State.
I am NOT anti-police, but I believe people that are paid to do a job must do it, they should not be allowed to pick and choose which bits they will or will not do on a whim. Further, officers are given extensive training on how to handle difficult situations calmly and professionally whilst always operating within the law. The film clip of the Tomlinson incident suggests that there are some officers out there who think they can do what they want or perhaps that they are above the law. Yet the Police are forever whining, especially is anyone dares to criticise them or expect them to fight crime.
If a Police Officer dies in the line of duty, we are reminded at how the Police put their lives on the line to protect the public every day, now that is true. But they also know what is expected of them before they join the police service, they are well trained and very well rewarded. Good career prospects, excellent salary and pension scheme and if they behave themselves, a job for life. However, scratch below the surface and the ‘danger’ aspect of policing in this country just doesn’t stand up to scrutiny, with all the health and safety rules they must adhere to and the fact that they so rarely get their hands dirty, it is probably one of the safest. Many times more travelling salesmen die in the course of their work than police officers.
The police have demanded and received from compliant politicians more and more powers to monitor, control and deal with ordinary members of the public. Further, they have been given physical weapons and new laws that they can use against any person they so wish, with little, if any independent oversight. They have people within their ranks (serving officers) that have been charged and found guilty of offenses ranging from drink driving, through to violence and drug dealing…..yet they are still expect the public to trust them. Even though these same officers will be the ultimate arbiter of which laws to enforce, when and against whom. A succession of compliant Ministers have made the police in this country all powerful and answerable to no-one. We must wrestle control back to where it must be and that is with the people….because it is difficult to argue that the British Police are NOT out of control.
SPREAD THE WORD:
A Conservative MP is seeking a second reading for a new Bill, titled ‘Exercise of Reasonable Discretion’. If passed into law, this will allow every public servant, including MP, civil servants, local government officers, the police etc., a legal defence of ‘reasonable discretion’ in any civil or criminal case brought about as a consequence of their actions. All they would have to prove, is that they acted in good faith, this as anyone in the know will understand, is a catch-all defence.
In essence, it could allow MP’s to argue that they made certain decisions, such as going to war, based on advice where they were required to use reasonable discretion, officials entering into multi-million pound contracts which are subsequently cancelled or overrun, will also be able to claim that they exercised reasonable discretion. It is effectively a get out of jail free card for any public servant. Effectively removing accountability and increasing risk, because of course, if there is no effective punishment, there is no need to be careful. We should all shout as loud as we can to ensure that this type of legislation never sees the light of day.