Blogging from the Highlands of Scotland until I return to the Murcia region of Spain in the Autumn for a month or so
'From fanaticism to barbarism is only one step' - Diderot

Monday, 9 February 2004

Blunkett's latest idea - a British 'FBI'

Several different policing and crime investigation bodies are to be merged to form the "Serious Organised Crime Agency (SOCA)", announces Home Secretary David Blunkett. At first glance, this seems like a worthwhile idea, but knowing the history of this man for proposing hare-brained schemes which are quickly forgotten and left unimplemented, I will wait to see what actually happens.

In the Guardian article I link to above, however, one aspect interests me. It is mentioned that "Last year the home secretary announced plans that would allow foreigners to become chief constables for the first time." and that "He has already put ex-Boston police chief Paul Evans at the helm of the Home Office's Police Standards Unit." It is not clear that this legislation (if this is required) or change in regulations (if that is all that is required) has actually happened yet. This is relevant to SOCA because the Guardian article says "There were unconfirmed reports at the weekend that former New York police chief Bill Bratton could be named as head of the new organisation. Mr Blunkett is an admirer of Mr Bratton's zero tolerance tactics that saw crime in New York City fall by more than a third during his tenure."

Personally I have no qualms about a foreigner, as such, performing this kind of function provided they have taken an oath of allegiance to the Crown, as I think is required for police personnel and indeed for MPs (which is what Mr Blunkett is, quite apart from being a Privy Councillor, which I imagine he is also). Being made a Chief Constable is quite a different matter from being merely an expert advisor, which is what has happened hitherto, so far as I am aware.

Specifically in the case of a US citizen, however, is such a person permitted by the US Constitution to take such an oath, pledging allegiance to a 'foreign power', specially a monarchical one? Would such a pledge not be the equivalent of treason under Article III, Section 3 of the US Constitution? Just a question...

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