For anyone who has been watching, our Police have been in and out of the news for a while now and generally for bad reasons, I’m talking here of the UK police rather than the somewhat trigger happy US types.
We have had the talks of cuts, the all but extinct bobby on the beat, the number of forces that no longer respond to certain types of crimes, the ones labelled victim less for example or anything where it’s an insurance matter and no one was hurt.
We have seen the police forces that stopped responding to burglaries if it was an odd numbered house or an even numbered house or just in an area they were cutting back on.
We have seen police stations closed and all police services concentrated in single large stations which cover an area rather than the smaller town based stations, a situation that increases response time since unless an officer happens to be close one has to be sent from the station which could be miles away. I blogged about an incident where a friend of mine ended up directing traffic at an accident because there were no police available to respond, a car plows through traffic knocking down a bike and a cyclist, no police available. They finally stole one from the motorway.
We have seen a steady increase in private sector police suppliers either replacing the police entirely at events or providing support services to the remaining police officers.
We have seen police force mergers debated and planned for, regions coming together to focus administration and command functions in a single place while getting rid of the smaller local offices. Plus of course cutting yet more employees. Which brings in a false advantage of unified purchasing and control (I say false because there is absolutely nothing stopping police forces combining their purchasing power to get better deals other than their own attitudes) while removing the advantages of local knowledge since officers are sent to anywhere within the new combined region rather than knowing the area and people where they used to be based.
We have seen, just recently, policing by Skype, another step into the brave new world of invisible policing, where you can’t even meet a police officer or talk to one face to face. Vicitms of crimes denied the reassurance of a visit from the police, a sign that our bobbies are on the case, the uniform walking the streets. Nope.
Now people, well talking heads on TV, have been making the case that this has many advantages since you can skype from a tablet or mobile and do so from a location and time that suits you. Yep, and it saves time and cost since the travel is removed and the officer can talk to more people.
But in return the human contact is gone, one more tie between the police and the public is cut and the police become even more isolated from society and the public, which makes it all the more likely that as crime rises and the police are blamed for not being abloe to cope the public will rally behind Tory calls for private sector police and the British Bobby will go the way of the NHS.
The next step with Skype is to get rid of the humans completely, after all you can get a Turing level human robot interaction package and a rubber head for a few thousand quid, if no one even meets the police do they even need to be real.
We have seen things reach what I think is the final step before police moral shatters and the Tories win, chief constables debating between themselves about terminating the employment contracts of serving officers simply to meet the next budget cuts because they have nothing else to cut. Mz May skipped this one by saying it was up to the Chief Constables to decide who they employ, thereby placing the blame on the poor sods who are struggling to follow her orders and Osborne’s budget.
Serving officers being sacked simply to meet budget cuts and if the Army was any example they will be picked to minimise the pension costs as well, long serving officers dumped before they reach those 16 year service pensions.
Oh and given the changes to legal aid any officers sacked in this way, for having done absolutely nothing wrong by the way, they will likely have no legal support unless the police federation steps in.
This will, I feel, break the moral of the police in a way that nothing else has, it will drag them down to the level of the armed forces.
To a point where, no matter how well they serve, no matter how good they are, they could be sacked at any time.
Much as soldiers coming back from fighting overseas were dumped by a cruel and uncaring government so could the police.
Anyone remember this chap?
Who is going to take a risk to protect the public if getting hurt means you could be dismissed. Why even bother taking a risk or going out of your way to help when an uncaring society could sack you at any time. The police are already hamstrung by Health and Safety rules, watching people die because they haven’t been trained in that exact situation, how can we expect officers who could be sacked at any time to give a damn about helping we who have stood back and either done nothing or voted in the bastards who are responsible.
We are watching as our legal system is split, the return of one law for the nobles and another for the commoners with those not rich enough to defend themselves left all but helpless before the courts and the often oppressive Crown Prosecution Service.
We are also watching as the police are cut back and reduced in size and protection as part of a deliberate policy to make them incompetent and thereby justify their replacement with profit focused private sector police forces.
Rent a cops and a legal system that favours the rich and crushes the poor. The wave of the future. So ask yourself this, in the 21st century, in one of the richest countries in the world, in what is supposed to be a civilised, law abiding nation.
Are you rich enough to pay for police protection in the future. Or not?