Sunday, 19 January 2014

The Chief Inspector's interview about Policing ~ The Times 18th January

The Times headline on Saturday 18th January was - "Police fear inner cities take law into own hands."  This referred to an interview given to The Times by the Chief Inspector of Constabulary (Tom Winsor). Mr Winsor is due to publish a report on the efficiency and effectiveness of the Police and, for that reason, I will confine this post to just a few of the comments as reported by The Times.

Mr Winsor sees a case for reducing the number of Police Forces in England and Wales.  Currently there are 43.  "In time some of these small forces will disappear and indeed it is happening by osmosis already ... these boundaries are meaningless to victims of crime and to criminals."  There is a certain logic in that pointing to a single national force!  Such an entity has usually been resisted on the basis that it would place too much policing power into the hands of a few.  Of course, even if there were to be one Police Force covering England, it is very doubtful
that it would be politically acceptable for one to cover England and Wales.  It can also be said with some confidence that a single force - no doubt run from London (?) - would not be politically acceptable to Scotland and Northern Ireland.  In any case, why should criminals respect the England/Scotland boundary?  For that matter, some don't respect international boundaries: a fact that makes it rather odd that the government is seeking to opt out of many EU crime measures.  (We can pick up that angle later)!

Mr Winsor went on to favour the Police wearing video equipment.  "They do it in other countries and they find the complaints against the Police fall like a stone and guilty pleas increase."  Guilty pleas entered after adequate legal advice based on full knowledge of the prosecution case are perfectly acceptable but not necessarily otherwise.  Also, those accused are still entitled to fully test the prosecution case in open court at a fair criminal trial.  (Mr Winsor does not suggest otherwise).

Mr Winsor also worried that " certain ethnic groups" are turning their backs on the Police.  "There are some communities born under other skies who will not involve the Police at all," he says.  There may be a serious question as to whether some alternative forms of justice are actually operating.  At this stage, it's best to await the full report!

Mr Winsor went on to talk about diversity in the Police (much more is needed); water cannon (let's have some); the Police not to be routinely armed (though, each year, there are many firearms authorisations) because it would encourage criminals to carry weapons.  He would also like to see outsiders parachuted in as inspectors, superintendents and Chief Constables but the parachutists would have to have experience in another field such as the military, the security services or business and they would attend a rigorous training programme.  Somehow, I don't suppose it would be quite as rigorous as the experience to be gained from the Policing of difficult areas.  Mr Winsor is clearly an experienced parachutist.  He is the first non Police Officer to be appointed to the post of HM Chief Inspector of Constabulary.  Apparently, this entitles him to wear the uniform - pictured above.

Enough said for now.  Let's await the report.

1 comment:

  1. "diversity in the Police (much more is needed)"

    If by that you mean so-called positive discrimination, no thanks. Of course all discrimination is positive from the point of view of the person who gets the job and the label is meaningless.

    Even within ethnic groups some sub-groups are "under-represented" (to use the dangerous jargon which treats individuals as representatives of their ethnic origin or their gender or their sexual orientation). Among black officers, for example, the proportion of people who or whose parents come from the Caribbean is higher (and vice-versa for people of West African origin) than among the black population at large. So how about a sub-quota? Where do you end?

    Policing is best done by people from the area - which in Cumbria will suggest far fewer black applicants - and therefore successful black applicants - than in the Met.

    If every reasonable effort is made to reach out to every ethnic group, if the criterion for success is identical regardless of origin, and if the proportion of successful applicants from each ethnic group is broadly similar: then there is no discrimination at work. If far fewer people of one origin than of another apply, then the proportion in the police will reflect that reality. That's life.