The Police Service of The Future
My last blog considered what other options might exist if we did away with TASER as some commentators are demanding. There wasn’t any answer to that question – I wasn’t expecting one.
Its not just TASER that some want to do away with so I thought it might be useful to consider what the police of tomorrow would look like if we adopted the approach advocated by some of the more vocal and prominent commentators.
Let us say then, that we have done away with TASER. For some this is not enough, there are people who believe that the police have no business carrying firearms at all. Peter Hitchens of the Daily Mail is one of these commentators. He believes that it should be soldiers who deal with anything involving guns.
I asked him how that would work and he seemed to think it would be very simple for the police to call on the armed services to assist. Practically, this is, of course, nonsense. The frequency with which armed police are necessary means that there would have to be a permanent resource of soldiers available in every force all the time. To my knowledge, having the military performing law enforcement functions is generally called “Martial Law.”
Mr Hitchens also believed it was easy for the police to request military assistance. The facility exists and it is called Military Aid to Civil Power. Practical examples of where this happens often are “the bomb squad” or air-sea rescue (before it is privatised.) They provide expertise and equipment which the police simply do not have and this type of call-out is relatively common.
There are other examples where the army have come to assist with natural disasters such as flooding. None of these involve the use of guns.
Requesting the military to bring firearms to a situation is a different thing altogether. Examples of where the military have brought weapons are less frequent. To my limited knowledge the two examples I can think of are the day that tanks rolled onto the forecourt of Heathrow Airport in 2003 and the Iranian Embassy siege in 1980. I am happy to be corrected by any historians on this.
In both of these situations the decision was made at Ministerial level. These were big calls in response to big threats. The process is not simple and has to pass through numerous levels of authority. Unless the law was changed to a standing authority to have the military involved in law enforcement (martial law) every deployment of soldiers, in lieu of armed police, would require ministerial authority.
I have no idea how many incidents across the UK require the deployment of firearms every day but I would suggest it is quite a lot. I doubt that Ministers would want to spend their time authorising the army to deploy to an armed robbery. If things were set up like this then I doubt the Minister would do much else all day. Come to think of it – we would need a 24/7 on-call roster for ministers.
Mr Hitchens isn’t alone in demanding that the police surrender their weapons so it meets the criteria and they will be done away with as well.
No TASER – no guns. A truly unarmed police service.
Mr Hitchens isn’t too happy about extendable batons either. He would prefer it if police went back to the days of having a wooden truncheon concealed in a long trouser pocket. Even I can remember those days. It was like that when I joined in 1994.
Moving on to body armour. Guess what? That has to go as well. It all looks far too paramilitary and makes police look unapproachable. Instead it will be replaced with the traditional tunic. It looks smart. It looks “traditional.” Get rid of the black t-shirts as well. Shirts and ties are the order of the day.
Crime fighting is best done in a suit. A suit with a 1 foot hat on top. (Though if we are insisting on tradition – the custodian police helmet was NOT the original headwear of the British police – we should insist on top hats.)
It is a bit like sending the Coldstream Guards into battle in their red tunics and bear skin hats. Not entirely functional but hey, that’s what we EXPECT a Coldstream Guard to look like.
Police should be deployed on foot – there is no need for cars. Their sole role is to be seen and deter crime by being seen.
This is fine until you consider the recent crime statistics. What this showed is something we have known for some time. Crime is changing.
Only a few decades or so ago it was necessary to be up close and personal to someone to commit a crime against them. If you wanted to dishonestly appropriate something from someone with the intention of permanently depriving them of it you had to physically take it from them, or their house or their car.
Not so these days. It is now easy enough to take vast sums of money from someone else with little more than a simple computer. You don’t even have to be in the same country as the victim to do it.
Whilst police were concentrating on these personal acquisitive crimes they weren’t looking at domestic abuse or child sexual exploitation.
These two issues are now beginning to receive the attention they should have had all along. Only now is the true scale of them being realised. And it is horrific.
Fraud, domestic abuse and child sexual exploitation are rising (the latter two were always there but are now being properly recognised) – burglary and robbery are falling.
The first three are committed in private – what good is a road-walking, tunic wearing police officer in a big hat here?
But it’s ok. Another commentator has said that it is time the make up of the police was changed completely. Out with the old and in with the “twenty something computer geeks” (her words not mine).
So the best thing to do is get rid of the expensive experienced old-fashioned police officers (compulsory severance should do it) and replace them with Q from Bond’s Skyfall.
Meanwhile, Richard Littlejohn has made many comments about the police wasting time trying to save people from bridges or rescuing seals or closing roads after fatal accidents. I won’t go over those again as I have blogged about this before here and here.
The bottom line is that the police shouldn’t be delaying people with investigations into “one vehicle road accidents” and managing vulnerable people in crisis.
We have also been told in recent weeks, by none other than Her Majesty’s Chief Inspector of Constabulary that shoplifting isn’t as important as other crimes. A week later the retail industry was protesting because the crime stats showed that retail theft (shoplifting) had risen dramatically. They thought the police should be doing more.
I’m not sure who wins this one but as HMCIC is an official position I will say that he holds the trump card.
Dealing with large-scale public disorder,such as the 2011 riots, causes a bit of a conundrum. Mr Hitchens believes that the police were weak and should have been out cracking heads (with their wooden truncheons) much sooner and harder. There are others who believe that police handling of such incidents is too heavy handed. Mr Hitchens has had enough go his way in this new vision of the future and so we will go with the commentators who say that “dialogue” is the only way of dealing with such situations. No riot gear, no Kettling, no batons or shields – they just up the ante – talking is the way forward. The APP (Approved Professional Practice) on large scale public disorder is being re-written as we speak.
There are many other things that people don’t like about the police. You only have to read the comments section of a certain newspaper to see that the police should stop targeting speeding motorists, drive less expensive cars and flying about in helicopters wasting taxpayers money. So let’s get rid of those as well.
By implementing these apparently popular demands all at once – what are we left with?
We have a police force made up mostly of twenty something computer geeks who wear a shirt, tie and tunic. Their role will be to deal with fraud and other computer related criminality.
When they do leave their computer screens they will walk about on foot in tall hats. Bicycles will be issued at a push.
Their job is not to prevent the emerging crimes of the day because they cannot. They mostly take place behind closed doors.
To defend themselves and the public in the face of current threats and violent criminals they will be armed only with a wooden stick.
In the event of any incident involving the criminal use of firearms a senior officer will contact Whitehall and seek Ministerial authority to invoke Military Aid to Civil Power. The Army will then be dispatched from the nearest barracks to take charge of the situation.
Where a vulnerable person is in crisis – if they are not causing a danger to anyone else they will be left alone. If they are in a dangerous position (such as a motorway bridge) then the swiftest resolution must be sought to remove them and allow everyone else to carry on with their day.
Road Collisions will now not be investigated. Officers are to turn up and record it as an “accident” and then begin clearing the road as soon as possible.
Speeding is to be decriminalised. This makes the changes to road collision investigation all the more important as there is likely to be an increase of them.
Shoplifting will no longer be considered as important and police will no longer attend.
In the event of large scale public disorder, officers in tunics are to attend and commence dialogue with rioters / protestors until they desist. If this approach fails then it can be escalated through “loud dialogue” to “stern telling off” and finally “desperate pleading.”
You may think I’m being ridiculous – I admit I am being tongue in cheek – but every single one of these demands of the police has legitimately been made by someone in the press in the last 12-18 months.
Add them all together and this is what you get.
All there would be to immediately defend you from the current threats and violent criminality is a bunch of traditionally dressed “twenty something computer geeks.” With a wooden stick.
The police service of the future.