In no way do I wish to be negative about the excellent start, at least rhetorically the new Prime Minister has made. But we must be wary of the police numbers game, as indeed we must on defence policy, perhaps the basis for another article.
Most of us would agree there are not enough police, hence the gradual breakdown in law on our streets. But it is a dangerous misunderstanding to imagine it is solely about numbers.
Police numbers per capita in London are not significantly different to New York, but there is a big difference in deployment policy. Take a walk by Central Park one day & follow on through Manhattan to Greenwich Village. You will find a cop on every street corner. Wander around Flagstaff Arizona, a cop car will pass you every five minutes. American police are highly visible.
Remember the original police concept under Sir Robert Peel, they were invented to deter crime.
No visibility, no deterrence.
You can walk today in London from St. James’s Square to the original Greenwich Village & not see a single policemen. Don’t believe me? I’ve done it!
Ask yourself when you last saw a beat copper in any British city. So unusual it excites comment.
So where the hell are they all?
Numbers of British police per capita has not changed significantly for over one hundred years.
Yet oldies like me remember beat cops were plentiful up until the 1970s.
Where to start?
The police rank system is archaic, all Chiefs & no Indians. Above inspector rank they disappear from the streets entirely. Such Chiefs as the police have been selected on a quota basis, skin colour, gender, sexual preferences & fast tracked graduates. All groomed in political correctness, hundreds watching computer screens to make sure we are not nasty to each other on social media ( yes, I have had the knock on the door by a policemen for a Tweet, a policeman who would not now be expected to turn out for shop lifting or rural crime).
The Extinction protesters bring London & Bristol to a standstill with illegal blockades & the police are there to make sure angry citizens don’t dismantle them. Police arrest preachers of Christianity, leaving hard line Islamist fanatics to preach murder uninterrupted. Resources seem unlimited to trail around after Tommy Robinson whilst child molesters went with impunity for decades. ‘Travellers’ seem to be totally outside the law of the land. Yet grandma is a prime target for driving at 35 mph on her way to Tesco.
So it’s not about numbers. General Wavell captured 250,000 Italian prisoners in North Africa with just two divisions. The Japanese captured Singapore with only a quarter of the British garrison’s numbers. German paratroopers beat Commonwealth troops in Crete, outnumbered three to one.
The British Heavy Brigade put to flight a much larger Russian cavalry force in the Crimea. Napoleon consistently beat much larger forces.
So history tells us numbers are never critical.
What is critical?
Training, leadership, motivation & most importantly in policing, public support.
This is where the system has failed. Recruiting twenty thousand police is one thing, but stemming the tide of police resignations is another.
Good experienced police are being passed over for promotion for politically fast tracked officers.
The Home Office will have to concede the police have lost the confidence of the public, without which they cannot do their job. Older retired policemen know this all too well.
It is middle England that pays police wages & monumentally expensive salaries & pensions at the top, tax & rates have exploded to meet them, in short we don’t feel we are getting value for money. Police training places too much emphasis on relationships with minorities & not enough on relationships with those of us who pick up the tab.
We do not want to see police officers prancing around at gay pride marches embarrassing themselves & infuriating rate payers or spraying police vehicles in rainbow colours.
It’s not what we pay you for. Some classes at police college could be added to help with social etiquette. Men & women old enough to be their grandparents do not expect the gratuitous use of Christian names.
Another modern police failing is recruitment. The whole nation laughed when it was mooted that all policemen & women should have university degrees. A positive disadvantage most of us would argue. Universities steam out original thinking & produce graduates with no experience of real life. They have been politically indoctrinated by left wing faculties & initiative is frowned upon & safe spaces abound. Could you imagine a worse grounding for a cop?
Policing is about dealing with people, mutual respect, prioritising law enforcement with permanently stretched resources.
The legal system must always be in close support. New tough laws must be enforced, blind eyes are OK maybe for children scrumping but not for threats of violence or jury intimidation.
The Home Office & judiciary must understand heavy police presence when incarcerating perceived political prisoners is unhelpful.
Let us all remind ourselves of those great cops we oldies revered of yesteryear. Respected in the community by all, they lived in & came from those communities. Let there by a graduated pay system which means the beat cop doesn’t depend on solely promotion for his salary increase.
He is a vital cog in the wheel, permanently in the front line, there must be a ‘stock option ‘ system of retention & reward.
Police reform is needed, numbers come afterwards.
The Goodnight Vienna Audio file