How the Government should administer cuts to the police

Home Secretary Teresa May received a hostile reception from the Police Federation yesterday when she told her audience they will have to bear their share of the cuts.

If a policemanís lot is not a happy one, neither is a government ministerís when it comes to wielding the axe, and for a Home Secretary, things can be especially difficult. Yesterday, Teresa May was given a frosty reception by a hostile crowd of Police Federation representatives at Bournemouth, and the frost didnít thaw as she was heckled, not quite to the extent where anyone had to be arrested for harassment or breach of the peace, but there was definitely a sense of menace in the air towards the Government.

Mrs May told them, quite properly, that they will have to bear their share of the cuts. It remains to be seen if the cuts are necessary at all, but until the government throws off the chains of the banksters, this is the way things will have to be.

That being said, the police have had things extraordinarily easy since the Thatcher years, and it is time someone put their house in order, as clearly they are unwilling if not unable to do so themselves. There are also a number of changes to the law of the land that could be made in order to free them up from wasteful tasks and put them back on the beat and in the front line elsewhere where they can deter, prevent and solve crimes. Here, in no particular order, are a few recommendations:

A police officer who is suspended pending criminal charges should be suspended in the first instance without pay. If nothing else, this will speed up the process, and will avoid altogether the sort of lunacy that was caused by the Dizaei case.

When the police are sued by members of the public for serious torts such as assault, the officers concerned should be sued personally, ie vicarious liability should be removed entirely. If they canít afford to defend themselves, then their union the Police Federation should do so. This will encourage them to settle cases promptly and fairly rather than play stupid games trying to wear down claimants using the bottomless pit of taxpayersí money.

The law should be changed so that in future when a police officer shoots and kills a member of the public, the case can be investigated promptly and efficaciously, even if this means handing over the investigation to outside agencies like (genuinely) independent lawyers, customs officers or even the military. They must never again be allowed to kill an unarmed person and then close ranks like they have done in the Mark Duggan case.

Police officers should not be permitted to incite crimes, and the activities of undercover officers such as Mark Kennedy should be strictly controlled and limited to combatting actual crime.

All laws relating to ticket touting should be repealed. If people are able enough and either willing enough or stupid enough to pay 10, 50 or 100 times the face value of a ticket, then people should be allowed to sell to them. If ticket touts were not touting tickets they would probably be doing something far more undesirable, like burgling peopleís houses.

All laws relating to prostitution including controlling prostitutes and keeping brothels should be repealed with the usual caveats - there is no such thing as forced prostitution, this is rape, and should be treated as such.

While it is probably too much to expect any government in the near future to legalise all recreational drugs, the police should be instructed to ignore cannabis and other, similar drugs. What is needed is education, especially of the young, not legal sanctions.

The government should repeal or at least redraft most of this lunatic race and related legislation, such as has led to the ludicrous John Terry case, and of late the harassment of inarticulate young Moslems who protest against the war in Afghanistan.

If all these measures were enacted, they would lead to considerable savings of public money, they would also help restore public confidence in the police, a confidence that is dented considerably by the fact that they are in practice often above the law.

[The above op-ed was first published May 17, 2012; the original wasnít archived.]

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