Back to Front PageThe Scottish Conservatives are talking about disbanding their party—because its image has become "toxic" and the Scots won't vote for them—and reincarnating under another name. Maybe it's an idea that could spread . . .

The Ugly Blue Line

In the mythical "Good Old Days", the police were there to keep order, tell people the time, direct traffic, investigate crimes, and arrest and prosecute criminals. And we had a court system which banged up at least some of the people who deserved it. But 13 years of New Labour changed all that.

The police "force" became a "service", but not a service dedicated to the public good. The leadership of the police evolved into a collection of jobsworths who would go along with the concept of the police serving the Labour government by doing only those things which ticked the boxes which allowed Labour's spin doctors to generate false statistics "proving" that the government was doing an excellent job on the policing front.

Now, we have a "Can't Prosecute Service", which makes almost as many blunders as the Income Tax mob, judges who seem to have a vested interest in keeping criminals out of gaol, and a few who actively encourage law-breaking, and prison officers and management (and politicians like the Justice Minister, K. Clarke) who don't want to secure their own employment by having prisoners in their charge.

Up and down the country, we have a police "services" which think they are doing a splendid job if they manages a 30% clear-up rate for crimes and expects the public to ignore the 70% of crimes which remain unsolved. And also the thousands of crimes which the police choose not to record.

We have a police "service" which kills people out on the streets instead of protecting them. We have a policing attitude, under which officers blame poor quality investigation on "the cuts", which have not yet happened.

We have a policing system loaded with thought crimes: "I think you might possibly have committed an offence, or you might be thinking about committing an offence, and I am arresting you on suspicion of committing that offence or thinking about committing it." And we have police officers who deal out appalling levels of casual violence to respectable citizens – and get away with it either because their senior officers tolerate their misconduct or they can't be bothered doing anything about it, like giving their staff proper training and firing those who don't shape up.

In this environment, not just criminals see the police and the rest of the justice system as enemies. People who can read newspapers and pick the meat out of biased television reports can see what is happening and go out of their way to avoid contact with the police. Because they know that these days, being innocent is no protection from persecution by vindictive and out-of-control police officers.

As with the Scottish Tories, the British justice system has become a toxic brand. Will the Coalition have the courage to start fixing things with the police? Will they have the courage to disband this disgraced organization, weed out the thugs and incompetents, and rebuild the good coppers into a national law enforcement agency under another identity?

It's doubtful. But that's what needs to be done, and done quickly.


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