"While dictators rage and statesmen talk, all Europe dances — to The Lambeth Walk."

Monday, 27 July 2009

Perception & Reality in British Policing

The old beliefs about law and order are a dying breed amongst Britain's politicians and senior police officers.

These days, perception is far more important than reality, and putting a good spin on the figures more important than the figures themselves - no matter how many lives have to be told.

The buzzword of the moment is knife crime.

Teenagers and children in Britain's violent, diversified cities keep mysteriously getting themselves stabbed to death over the most trivial of things.

Rather than look at the types of people who commit these crimes and why, the government prefers to talk of knife crime - in itself a fairly obscure and ambiguous term which dehumanises both victim and criminal involved.

That's the aim - then no one can be blamed, particularly those responsible for failed Left-wing social schemes.

Predictably, talking of this phenomenon in a way which belies the fact that violent, feral youths are responsible hasn't cut knife crime - in fact, it is on the rise in the ten hotspots which were the beneficiaries of a £7 million scheme intended to cut knife crime.

From The Telegraph:

Figures released today [wed] show that between July 2008 and March this year 126 people were stabbed to death in the 10 areas covered by the Home Office's Tackling Knife Crime Action Plan, up from 119 in the same period the year before.

The Government targeted the 10 police force areas most affected by knife crime, including the Metropolitan Police, Greater Manchester and Merseyside, with an advertising blitz matched with a local police crackdown using knife arches and other initiatives.

Overall the number of stabbings in the 10 areas among under-19s fell by 17 per cent. For those aged over 20, the fall was eight per cent. Robberies with knives were also down in the targeted areas.

Bu in three areas the number of violent offences using a knife increased, including by 42 per cent in Thames Valley and 37 per cent in Nottinghamshire.

David Hanson, a home office minister, defended the plan and said that results were likely to be seen in a "generation" rather than just after one year. The rise had come about after a spike in murders last August which explained the rise.

What is needed here is the one thing the government can't buy - honesty.

Youths will continue to stab each other to death until they are educated in such a way that they rediscover morality and respect for the lives of fellow human beings, and if that fails actually fear the consequences of harming someone else.

Amnesties, lectures, free money and simpering just aren't going to cut it.

In many respects, the police and the law are impotent against these thugs. If people are released a few hours after being caught with a knife, then even increased police patrols and searches will not chip into the death toll.

If they are out of jail a few months after robbing someone at knifepoint, they will likely be unafraid of doing it again.

But, the police care not for reality either.

Recently, the Metropolitan Police announced that they would remove yellow witness appeal boards from crime scenes - because they 'raised fear and awareness of crime':

They have long been accepted as a sensible way of helping to solve crime.

But bright yellow police signs appealing for witnesses to serious offences are no longer such a feature of grim city streets - in at least.

For in an attempt to reduce 'fear of crime', the Metropolitan Police has effectively banned the use of the distinctive signs in all but exceptional circumstances.

Yellow police sign

Vital aid: Officers value the signs, but they're being scaled back in the capital

Privately, however, senior policemen say the ban is 'ridiculous'.

One Met officer said: 'The yellow signs have always been a useful way of encouraging witnesses to crimes to come forward.

'They were placed where the crimes actually happened, so were very much targeted at people who might have seen something. Now that source of information has been cut off - and it is utterly ridiculous to do that in a bid to reduce people's "fear of crime".

'By stopping us solving crimes the move is increasing the risk that more crimes will happen.'

Another senior policeman said: 'I think someone upstairs became aware that in crime hotspots several yellow signs were being put up at once. They presumably thought it showed us in a bad light, as if crime was out of control.

'In fact, they were just an indication of what was going on, and of the fact that we were trying to get some witnesses. I'm furious that we can't do that any more.'

A leading criminologist said the restriction was an indication of a move away from traditional policing, which involves solving crimes.

Stuart Lister, of Leeds University, said: 'This shows the lengths the police are prepared to go to to manage the public's fear of crime.

'The problem is that since violent crimes are mostly solved by members of the public volunteering information to the police, then the withdrawal of inquiry boards is perhaps-not the most effective way of managing a criminal investigation.'

A Metropolitan Police spokesman said that use of the yellow witness appeal boards had been heavily restricted after research last year suggested they raised fear of crime.

'Officers can request their use in exceptional circumstances, but any such requests must be authorised by a specialist crime directorate commander,' he said.

So there you have it - if you're not aware of it, it doesn't matter that it is happening.

As long as you perceive the police and justice system as being fit for purpose, it doesn't matter that they are not - and the price is increasingly heavy for the innocent.

1 comment:

Edwin Greenwood said...

"So there you have it - if you're not aware of it, it doesn't matter that it is happening."

I think the more correct Orwellian formulation would be: if you're not aware of it, it hasn't happened.