Who would have thought that the supposed party of law and order, the Conservative Party, would have allowed the morale of the Police Service to sink so low.
And all on the basis of dogma.
That is why military help after the recent Manchester massacre should really never have been required. It would have been not only ironic but a step change in attitude if a principle reason for Britain having an accountable and basically non military and unarmed police, set into stone at the time of the Peterloo Massacre, was transformed by an event less than a couple of miles away in the Manchester arena. Yet up to 31 March 2015 Greater Manchester Police experienced the largest decrease in police numbers of any Police Service in the UK for that year (the last for which figures are available).
The Conservatives with Theresa May as either Home secretary or Prime Minister have reduced police numbers by almost 19,000 or 13%.
This is allegedly accompanied by a decline in crime, though it seems to take little account of – as a most obvious example – online crimes (with the wonderful banks investigating credit card fraud, although when I ran a company they never investigated when requested – and nor even when I refused to refund them till I’d heard how the investigation was progressing. They just tried to sanction me!) It takes no account of information gained in local communities so that policing can be proactive rather than reactive. Additionally of course one terrorist offence, whilst having pervasive consequences, is usually only one crime.
Policing by consent is the corollary of the warm beer and cricket of John Major’s Conservatism yet the Labour Party is supposed to be irresponsible in demanding an increase in police numbers. There is a very salutary and heartfelt note from a police officer to the journalist, Owen Jones on his facebook page saying how they have resources that are far too limited:
And here is a policeman – oh so politely – taking on Amber Rudd with first hand evidence of inadequate resources, overwork and despair.
So Tory policy seems to be that the Police are going to become ever more unaccountable and separated from the communities they serve because there are not the resources to do otherwise.
I fear that way danger lies.
We already have the Napoleonic example of policing where every French resident has a Police Record or casier judiciaire – it may be blank, but it’s there. And French Police intervention tends to be from the outside and well armed. So there are anything up to seven police killed in France per year and a few more from armament errors. There is no intelligence because the Police are not part of the community – they are just temporary invaders. The heavily armed comparison is not one that is worth it. No wonder our unarmed Police in England and Wales would like a few more colleagues.
The traditional party of law and order is now, as we know, the party of laissez faire and neoliberalism.
The reality has turned out to be that it is also the party of ignore and forget.
And that applies not only for the Police but for all of the rest of us too.