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

Tuesday, 15 June 2010

Middle-class areas 'must police themselves'

This is the basis of an amazing new 'policy' announced by Patrick Shearer, president of the Association of Chief Police Officers in Scotland (Acpos) and chief constable of Dumfries and Galloway Constabulary.

Mr Shearer says police forces need to target their efforts where they are most required. That sounds reasonable enough in itself, but there is more, much more, to this pernicious policy. Mr Shearer is quoted as saying:


"The idea of the universal police service for all belongs to a time when resources were plentiful.

"We have to accept that a lot of the public can look after themselves. When times get hard you really have to target resources.

"A gold-plated service is no longer appropriate and we’ll have to stop doing some of the things we are doing at the moment or have done in the past.

"For us to continue to be effective we have to very much target our resources where the need is and not necessarily where the demand is."

As I mentioned above, this may sound reasonable, but it does seem to make a number of highly dubious assertions. For example, when Mr Shearer opines "We have to accept that a lot of the public can look after themselves", I have no doubt that many people (and not just 'middle-class' people) could look after themselves if allowed to do so, but the reality is that home-owners are actively discouraged from 'helping themselves' and may very well suffer severe legal consequences if they dare to do so! A case in point, a relative and his wife, returning home some years ago (they lived then in a very nice part of Dundee, in what by any standards would be described as a 'middle-class' area) to see a man - a burglar - exiting an upstairs window across the roof of a rear extension, with a bag of 'loot'. Other bags of 'loot' were later discovered in a back corner of the garden, indicating that he had made at least three trips into the house to steal prior to my relatives' return home. Coming off the roof of the rear extension he fell badly and so it was easy for my even then quite elderly uncle to detain the man until the police responded to the telephone call that my aunt made for assistance. No violence was used by either the man or my uncle. Nevertheless, for several months, until the case came to court, my uncle was under threat of police prosecution for 'illegal detention'. Luckily that threat was removed just before the trial - the burglar having withdrawn his spurious claim, when it became clear his lengthy prior record of theft would be an issue.

So, if what Mr Shearer is proposing is that if some ned/chav/ne'er do well invades my home intent on theft, that I may stop that person by ANY MEANS AVAIALBLE, then I might be prepared to go along with him. And I think the means I should be allowed to have available, should I so wish, should include for example a baseball bat or a gun. Why should I have to afford a robber ANY rights whatsoever?! And why should I be at risk of criminal proceedings for defending my home? However, I very much doubt that this is what Mr Shearer proposes.

In summary, the scope of police duties should be for elected officials to decide, not for the police to set arbitrarily. Given the fact, too, that it is highly probable that middle-class people pay the vast bulk of the taxes that pay for public services like the police, it is bare-faced effrontery for some jumped-up policeman to make this kind of policy statement. Mr Shearer should get on with doing his policing job and not interfere with policy matters way above his pay grade!

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