Reader’s Comment: Pity the scapegoated police

In response to Kathy Gyngell: Ordinary coppers are neutered by their PC bosses, Malcolm wrote:

Thank you! At long last someone has had the courage to say what many sensible people have been thinking for ages. The police have been treated as an easy target for scapegoating over the ills in society by politicians for at least two decades in order to make those same politicians, who should really be carrying the can, look tough. They are after all a very easy target when they are banned by law from taking any form of industrial action, however badly they are treated.

Straw started it with the wholly unnecessary and totally biased Lawrence Enquiry; a visitor from Mars would be forgiven for concluding that it was the police not racist thugs who had committed the murder. The outcome was pre-ordained, and in the absence of evidence being found of police wrong-doing then no matter: a whole new crime of previously unknown "institutional racism" could be invented to tar them. The result was predictable and has come to pass - a disenchanted workforce that trusts no-one and has become risk averse and pliant to PC agendas advocated by their supine and politically driven chief officers. Who can blame them?

Theresa May continued the trend as Home Secretary, blatantly abusing the police both verbally and through draconian changes to their working conditions, rewards, promotion and pension entitlements under Tom Winsor. Let's have elected (ie political) local "Crime Commissioners" with the power to fire chief constables; let's have senior officers with no policing experience recruited from industry and parachuted into superintendent roles; let's make sure that the public are told it's because the police can't be trusted. She did all that quite cynically to further her own political career and burnish her claim to be the next Iron Lady, taking on "vested interests".

It was notable that she didn't try it on with the Fire Brigade, a workforce with a history of militant union activity. Those officers not nearing retirement took the other best option and left. They were replaced by young recruits schooled from the start in the bizarre requirements of pandering to the latest multicultural or politically correct fad; law enforcement was secondary to the need to avoid causing offence. With the IPCC, an organisation that seems to start from a position of assuming police guilt in any complaint or incident, looking over their shoulder, operational officers would be brave indeed (or very foolish) to ignore the stifling restrictions of political correctness in order to do what their predecessors did without thinking: enforce the law without fear or favour.

The result of all that is a police force which was once renowned the world over for its benign but efficient law enforcement, largely unarmed and operating with overwhelming public support, has been reduced to painting its patrol cars in rainbow colours to advertise its inclusivity but has seen that public support drain away to its lowest levels since its difficult birth in the early 19th century and the days of mob rule on our streets. The blame for that should be firmly placed where it belongs; on our myopic political classes. Well said, Kathy. As the old saying goes: pity the poor copper.


  • Groan

    The Police and Crime
    Commissioners generally are voted in with a small turnout from the electorate.
    A number of independent candidates got in bucking the usual party system. So
    they are a good place to start to influence this. Having a small and less
    predictable “electorate” they may be far more inclined to be affected by
    pressure/publicity.

  • MorganCourtenay

    Absolutely well said. Having lived in a lawless neighbourhood, I can attest to the harm caused by denigrating and scapegoating the police. In my old neighbourhood, drunken yobs could be shouting and carousing well into the night, and it would take up to half an hour for the police to arrive. There were no patrolling policemen who would have put a stop to such inconsiderate behaviour. Drug-dealers could ply their wares on street corners, only flinching if a member of the public came past. No patrolling policemen to interrupt their “business dealings”. No patrolling policemen to question people loitering around on street corners, as they ought. Today, that’s called unconscious bias used to arrest (usually) black people. The notion that lurking around and covering your face is intimidating to members of the public has been denounced as absurd and possibly motivated by racism.

    If the police try and enforce the law, they are wrong in some way. If the police don’t enforce the law, and innocents get hurt, the police are wrong. We see this with the issue of racism. Are some police racist? Yes. Have some police officers acted inexcusably? Yes. Does that mean that enforcing the law in the interests of everyone (including ethnic minorities) is racist? No. But when the police arrest, say, Afro-Caribbean men, often for violent crime/drug offences, we’re told the rate of arrest is disproportionate, and we’re paralyzed by the heresy of stereotyping. Pointing to statistics and incidences of crime is, of course, absurd. After all, plenty of white men commit crimes, they say. Yet on the other hand, when the police become lax and don’t arrest these perpetrators, those SAME people now claim that the lack of police presence is due to not caring about ethnic minorities! Which one is it to be?

  • AJ

    The report from the lawrence enquiry may have been significantly different if the evidence the Met had about the corrupt relationship between Clifford Norris and the police investigating the murder.
    A subsequent review concluded that this was a significant failure in the disclosure made by the MPS. Cynically I think the Met made a decision not to reveal the extent of police corruption to the enquiry to protect their reputation and ended up being branded instituitional racists because there was no other explanation available for their woeful performance and incompetence.

    The consequence for the police in failing to divulge what may have been the main cause of problems is salutary lesson in the importance of openess in instituitional investigations.

    • Andy

      The whole Lawrence case should be a matter of grave concern to us all. Macpherson gave the family and their vocal supporters what the wanted, but the oh so pc Labour Government went further and swept away a thousand year old law to go after those they decided were guilty. The individuals concerned might have been ghastly, but they were convicted on very very thin grounds and one is left to wonder had this been any other case if they would been convicted at all and if those convictions would have been upheld. I don’t think that sweeping away the double jeopardy rule was worth it. We will live to regret it.

  • UKCitizen

    There are still plenty of coppers who joined and want to do the best they can for the public. However they are slowly being forced out and replaced by PC feminised recruits who are considerably more at home with being the states enforcement arm which can be seen by there overly enthusiastic enforcement of PC crimes.

    • RobertRetyred

      ‘… PC feminised recruits …’
      And many are men!

  • Devonian_Prof

    The Tories tried to do something about the “lions led by donkeys” problem by introducing police and crime commissioners. Unfortunately the establishment counter-attack was successful: it both ensured that the commissioners didn’t have much power, and on occasion made sure that its poodles got the job (a prime example being the appalling ex-Labour warhorse Vera Baird, now oh-so-PC (forgive the pun) Commissioner for Northumbria).

    • anna

      In defence of Vera Baird, whatever her faults, she took on board the concerns of the police about using a paid informer to flush out the Pakistani rape gangs. She’s a QC, and did a risk assessment with the police, supporting them in their decision to go ahead. The abusers were convicted as a result.

      • Devonian_Prof

        True: but there are other aspects of VB’s PC attitudes that TCW has taken exception to.

      • davidraynes

        I know nothing about this lady, but risk assessment of a paid Covert Human Intelligence source, is an operational matter, not a matter for a PCC, even if she has served as a QC. If there is a question about use of such source in evidence, that is a matter for the CPS and any Counsel THEY instruct.

        See how the lines get blurred?

        • anna

          Thanks for the info. The press were making much of the fact that the police had paid a convicted criminal to infiltrate the gang, implying that it was a reckless, maverick decision by a gung-ho force, so when I read, in a short para on an inside page of the Times, that they had conferred with the Police Commissioner I thought that the police were being maligned, and it was to their credit that they had proceeded with some caution. Clearly, I misunderstood, and thank you for the correction.

          • davidraynes

            I spoke about this matter on Any Answers last Saturday. Still available on line.

            Most paid human sources, by the nature of where they get information from and get trusted by criminals, have a murky history. They are high risk to use.

  • Dodgy Geezer

    I might be more prepared to have respect for the police as an institution if they didn’t kill so many innocent people and then cover it up afterwards…

    • Ed McA

      Some examples please with actual facts, rather than blanket condemnation.

      • Dodgy Geezer

        If you really can’t remember Jean Charles de Menezes there doesn’t seem to be much point in providing any other examples. However, you might like to read about Harry Stanley – https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Death_of_Harry_Stanley

        Note that my point is that trigger-happy police kill people by mistake and then cover it up…

        • Ed McA

          I, unfortuntely, remember it well but then de Menezes was also to blame. Perhaps you’re unaware that he left the UK when his visa expired but then sneaked back in through the Irish Republic. If only he’d obeyed the law then he would probably be alive today.
          You must be like the BBC, and most other media, in recounting only part of the story – do you always propagate false news?

          • Dodgy Geezer

            De Menezes was NOT to blame for being shot. Your argument, that if he wasn’t there he would be alive, is puerile. I assume you would also blame Harry Smith for making a coffee table leg?

            It is a mark of how weak your argument is that you feel the need to descend to pointless and irrelevant insult. You must know that there are many other such cases I could cite – and you cannot answer my key point at all – that the police kill people by mistake AND THEN COVER IT UP. Why is this? Is it too hard for you?

          • Ed McA

            Just a pity that you can’t understand English and the principle of ”cause and effect”.

          • 13th Duke

            By taking your argument to its conclusion, the streets of Britain would be awash with the blood and brain matter of people who didn’t obey the law and were here illegally.

          • Ed McA

            I’am simply stating fact, in this particular case, but that appears to be too difficult for your febrile brain.

    • anna

      I recall a Glasgow police surgeon saying that if the general public saw the outrageously violent behaviour of ‘innocent’ people in police stations on Friday nights, they would be astounded that many more of them weren’t injured or killed in the process of trying to subdue them.

      • Mike

        Agreed.certain men when they have a certain amount of alcohol and/or drugs in them have incredible strength, an amazingly high pain threshold and a willingness to bite. In a confined space such as a cell a stocky and muscular man above 12-13st is very difficult to control. Some people have an incredibly immunity to sprays designed to control people. To make matters worse, if that man is flexible in the shoulders and elbows, then locks are very difficult to apply and be effective.

        The reality is that the percentage of Police who are willing to deal with the streetfighter on their own is declining: consequently more are needed to attend a disturbance, so there is a shortage of officers. The reality is that any decent u19 rugby team comprises young men who are fitter and tougher than many police officers nowadays. Strength in men increases to their late 20s so employing those in the late teens /early 20s automatically have disadvantage.

      • Dodgy Geezer

        I was talking about innocent people. Not Scotsmen.

  • Old Tommer

    Excellent comment.

  • Owen_Morgan

    There’s a bit of inconsistency here, despite some well made points. If the lower ranks of the police are filled with PC PCs (and, actually, I’d argue that they have been for rather a long time), what’s wrong with bringing in outsiders for senior ranks? I think that used to be routine. Senior officers were frequently ex-Army men. Is that a bad thing? At least a former Army man or woman would be bound to be more competent in operations involving guns than Cressida D*ck notoriously is.

    (Apparently, disqus won’t let me use the unexpurgated version of the Police Commissioner’s surname.)

  • Mike

    The Cadbury Report said there should be a separation between the Chairman and the MD. Prior to 1945, the Chief Constable was a retired military officer, colonel and above, often a major general. The deputy was a career police officer. The Labour Government changed this. I think a return to the pre 1945 situation would help matters. If the deputy could talk to someone who had similar experience it would provide a certain emotional detachment and valuable discussion.

    The Commissioners appear to lack relevant expertise. It is not quantity which is important but quality of judgement.

    On a very simple level once there is violent man, say 12.5 st and above who has some boxing expertise( especially bare knuckle) and sufficient drink to dull the pain so they can take a hit but not enough to slow the reflexes: they are very difficult to control. It is said that there is 1.5 rule; a 10st man if he punches correctly can put a 15 st man on the ground. Consequently, some of the most dangerous street fighters are light heavy weights( they combine speed and hitting power) with a strong jaw and a few pints inside them; at 12.5 st they can easily knock out 2 men quite easily. Those who undertake manual work, have what is called farmers strength. The reality is that most politicians, civil servants and media types have no idea what it takes to control a good strong street fighter with a solid jaw. In Glasgow, the Police used to recruit those who took part in the strength and throwing competitions in the Highland Games.

    I wonder if part of the modern police training includes how to deal with a good light heavy weight street fighters/bare knuckle boxers. Historically many police officers were accomplished boxers and rugby players. I would suggest the reason why there is lack of resource is because nowadays many police officers are required to control a good street fighter, whereas the former Guardsman/Commando/heavy weight boxer/rugby player could do it on his own.

    • davidraynes

      PCCs as instituted by the Tories was a barking mad idea. It has very little support from communities, gets low electoral turnout and in some paces has turned Policing into a political football. In many places continued friction exists between Chief Constable and PCC. The posts are also expensive.

      Worse, an examination of some successful candidates shows that some are ex Police Officers who were not capable of reaching the top ranks when in harness. In one notorious case the PCC is an ex uniformed Inspector in a very small town. Not usually a roll where high level Policing strategy & understanding is much needed.

      So a dogs breakfast, sold to the Tories when they were in opposition by a ridiculous incompetent think tank.

      What should the Tories have done when they came to power in 2010 ?

      Firstly, there should have been an initiative to reduce the number of Constabularies in England & Wales from 43 to something around 10 or 11. Many of the current “shire” Constabularies are too small and lack critical mass for modern Policing. They are also very expensive.

      Secondly Policing nationally should have professional oversight from suitably qualified people, not amateurs and small time local politicians, as we have now. Maybe a national Police Commissioners body, commissioned by and reporting to the Home Secretary supervising Constabularies, the National Crime Agency and the Inspectorate. The IPCC would stand outside that.

      This controlling body would have paid Commissioners, appointed by competition. The body would appoint and fire Chief Officers (using the services of an enhanced Inspectorate).

      The problem the Tories have is that no one will admit the current model of Policing using 43 Constabularies is just wrong. That they were sold a pup. Much of it was designed in and has not really moved much beyond the 19th century. As was found in Rotherham, Police Commissioners are quite hard to remove.

      It is a mess. It will get worse before it gets better. there will be some scandal about what a Commissioner has done and interference in operations. The job of Chief Constable under an idiot highly political Commissioner, will become ever more unattractive.

      • Mike

        I think the issue which is ignored is calibre of the applicants. There have been complaints since then 1870s. The question which is not asked should th police comprise people of the calibre of officers in the Armed Forces or are they the standards of privates?Do we need to two types of Police, one which recruits privates and another officers?

        Rapid promotion may be fine for graduates but is the point if they cannot arrest a 13st street fighter with a few pints in them? This will probably require being able to ride a a few punches from the person. If there has to be high flyer stream, then they must be fitter and better fighters than the rest and spend 2-5 years in the toughest parts of Britain.

        Supervision of one person by another is only of benefit if they have some relevant experience. Britain was incredibly safe until 1960, in part because there was a significant part of the male population who did physically tough jobs, had boxed and played rugby and been in the armed forces and understood how to deal with drunken scallywags. The days when senior civil servants, judges, acdemics and politicians had boxed and played rugby at school and seen combat and served with tough scallywags and therefore understood them are long gone.

        The rise of cultural Marxism via political correctness requires an ability to understand the character and the ideology in order to counter it. Consequently , we are looking at tough infantry/ commando officers. Why should these types join the police rather than elite military units?