Losing faith in the Police

Well, most of us did ages ago, ever since Regatta de Blanc.

Anyway, it turns out most people in the UK have realised the cops can’t do their job.

Clearance rates are falling and the study shows the public are not blind to this.

Statistics like this are hard to hide after a while:

Of course, victims of crime in the garden of England (that’s Kent, in case you didn’t know) are not the only ones to realise there’s less than a 19/20ths chance of not being charged for a crime; the criminals know it too.

It becomes a vicious self-reinforcing cycle.

Historically, the public and the police have had a unique relationship, markedly different to most otherwise similar countries. This is often described as “policing by consent”, and that phrase is often referenced.

In fact, it’s worth reproducing the original wording of the 9 point instructions….

…..devised by the first Commissioners of Police of the Metropolis (Charles Rowan and Richard Mayne). The principles which were set out in the ‘General Instructions’ that were issued to every new police officer from 1829 were:

1 To prevent crime and disorder, as an alternative to their repression by military force and severity of legal punishment.

2 To recognise always that the power of the police to fulfil their functions and duties is dependent on public approval of their existence, actions and behaviour and on their ability to secure and maintain public respect.

3 To recognise always that to secure and maintain the respect and approval of the public means also the securing of the willing co-operation of the public in the task of securing observance of laws.

4 To recognise always that the extent to which the co-operation of the public can be secured diminishes proportionately the necessity of the use of physical force and compulsion for achieving police objectives.

5 To seek and preserve public favour, not by pandering to public opinion; but by constantly demonstrating absolutely impartial service to law, in complete independence of policy, and without regard to the justice or injustice of the substance of individual laws, by ready offering of individual service and friendship to all members of the public without regard to their wealth or social standing, by ready exercise of courtesy and friendly good humour; and by ready offering of individual sacrifice in protecting and preserving life.

6 To use physical force only when the exercise of persuasion, advice and warning is found to be insufficient to obtain public co-operation to an extent necessary to secure observance of law or to restore order, and to use only the minimum degree of physical force which is necessary on any particular occasion for achieving a police objective.

7 To maintain at all times a relationship with the public that gives reality to the historic tradition that the police are the public and that the public are the police, the police being only members of the public who are paid to give full time attention to duties which are incumbent on every citizen in the interests of community welfare and existence.

8 To recognise always the need for strict adherence to police-executive functions, and to refrain from even seeming to usurp the powers of the judiciary of avenging individuals or the State, and of authoritatively judging guilt and punishing the guilty.

9 To recognise always that the test of police efficiency is the absence of crime and disorder, and not the visible evidence of police action in dealing with them.

Consider then, how this type of statement on the West Yorkshire Police website aligns with those well-meaning statements of intent (italics mine):

What is a Hate Incident?

A Hate Incident is any non-crime incident which is perceived by the victim or any other person to be motivated by hostility or prejudice based on a person’s disability, race, religion, sexual orientation or gender identity or perceived disability, race, religion, sexual orientation or gender identity.

Examples include:

Verbal or online abuse, insults or harassment, such as taunting, offensive leaflets and posters, abusive gestures, dumping of rubbish outside homes or through letterboxes, and bullying at school or in the workplace.

A hate incident doesn’t mean that we won’t take it seriously if someone reports it.

Of course, it’s not even legally correct; dumping rubbish through letter boxes certainly is illegal already in West Yorkshire.

But what an interesting comparison to make; the West Yorkshire police force have time to investigate a non-crime that has been perceived to be offensive to anybody yet are managing to charge fewer than 7 out of 100 actual crimes.

It feels like there may be just a slight mis-allocation of resources going on oop north.

Bill’s Opinion

A police force that allocates more than zero expensively-trained uniformed coppers on an investigation into a case of hurty tweets yet has a clearance rate for real crime (those crimes with actual victims) of less than one in ten cases should have the entire managerial level replaced immediately and their pensions cancelled.

9 Replies to “Losing faith in the Police”

  1. I know for a fact that Scotland Yard’s unsolved crime rate, markedly improved a notch after I departed from the Big Smoke.

    I never seen the good side of the Old Bill, too corrupt, funny handshake, stitch up merchants in my view, sure there are good ones with the right motives, but the bad apples prevail.

  2. Points 1 and 9 are key – the purpose of the police is to prevent crimes, not solve them. Which is why they need to be chased out of their offices and onto the streets.

    1. A Freedom of Information request made to one’s local force asking what the ratio is of fully-qualified police on front line versus back office duties might be interesting.

  3. No. 7 is interesting, and not something I had considered much. It all makes sense.

    As a general comment, it does feel as if we ignore a lot of prior learning, as if our forebears were shallow thinkers who did things reflexively, without a view to the consequences. They obviously acted on what appears now to be a lot of apparent bias, but it is difficult to have a discussion as to why.

    As all professions become more professional, and divorced from their people (as opposed to the concept in no.7), then they become less trusted.

  4. Malaphors: O/T I was on a grammar nazi page yesterday and a humorist was talking about Occam’s trumpet. Which I thought was too much of a stretch. How about Occam’s toothbrush?

    In my happy country, the only reason I would report a crime to the amaBhulu is to get a case number for the insurance claim. It has been so since apartheid days and all drivers know to keep a hundred-Rand note handy to give to the cops to buy Nandos if stopped in a traffic roadblock.

    1. My first direct interaction with the Joburg Old Bill was when I went to the Sandton Police Station in order that they could witness my affidavit for a legal matter. The copper was quite chatty and told me that, other than singing affidavits, I should never get involved with or mix with cops under any circumstances, he said no good and only bad would come of it and they might shoot me, his advice was well taken.

      Also had plenty of random stop and search in cars as well particularly around downtown Joburg and yes 100 Rand was handed over, I didnt feel safe in downtown even with a cop hassling me.

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