Sir Denis O`Connor, Her Majesty`s Chief Inspector of Constabulary, has published a report that paints a gloomy picture for the future of law enforcement here in the UK. Sir Denis O`Connor will not be the head of HMIC for much longer.
Avuncular Sir Denis, who seems like a nice, sensible chap, has dared to suggest that a 20 per cent reduction in police funding and the consequent removal of a further 5,800 front line police officers might in some way, possibly, in a worst case scenario, in a less than perfect world, maybe, perhaps result in an increase in crime. There seems to be an absence of excrement my dear Mr Holmes. After taking a vow of silence following a judgement that found Home Secretary Teresa May guilty of contempt of court, it was left to Policing Minister Nick Herbert to make the utterly false claim that the government had increased the number of front line police officers. In fact, in the first year of the coalition`s rampage through public services, 6,012 front line officers lost their jobs and still the bulk of the cuts have yet to be implemented.
Sir Denis has said that given the level of “efficiency savings” required to pay for the bonuses awarded for criminal activity in the banking sector, the Lincolnshire and the Devon and Cornwall constabularies as well as that paragon of virtue that is the Metropolitan Police may not be able to provide a “sufficiently efficient or effective service”. Elementary, my dear Watson. When a Tory Home Secretary is heckled by serving police officers and is guilty of contempt, you know that something very strange is going down.
The haste of the government to do away with local police authorities and replace them with an individual police and crime commissioner is an indication of a more sinister and ulterior motive. In the increasingly surreal universe occupied by the avaricious nasties in Whitehall and Westminster, community accountability is regarded as an obstacle to “reform”, criticism is treason and objection is terrorism. In the warped world of the coalition, governance of the police service is best left to a chief constable and a single, politically motivated commissioner behind closed doors over a fine bottle of single malt well away from the prying eyes and ears of the irritating citizenry. Funny handshakes rolled up trousers and trebles all round.
Having fast tracked “elected” commissioners, the government is now forcing privatisation onto yet another public service. West Midlands Police and the Surrey constabulary are in negotiations with private companies in attempt to make profit out of law enforcement. The principle of a fellow citizen empowered with the responsibility to protect, serve and uphold the law on our behalf is now becoming as relevant and as quaintly amusing as the Keystone Cops.
With accountability and order gone, we come to the Winsor report. Tom Winsor is a lawyer who came to prominence due to his involvement with the privatisation of electricity supply in Northern Ireland and then the privatisation of the railways. He then became the Rail Regulator for Great Britain and regulated the shambles known as Railtrack. During his five year tenure as the railway watchdog, private rail companies made an awful lot of money and an awful lot of people died in train crashes at Ladbroke Grove, Hatfield, Selby, Potters Bar and Tebay. Given this impressive track record, and his role as a senior partner at the White and Case law practice that secured a £200million, ten year deal for G4S to privatise the aforementioned skint Lincolnshire constabulary, he is the obvious choice to review the terms and conditions of those that we trust to protect us.
Winsor has recommended compulsory redundancy, a reduction in starting salary for new officers, an increase in retirement age, rigid qualifications for applicants, direct entry of people without any experience of policing to senior positions and disciplinary action and dismissal for officers he considers to be too fat. More disturbingly, he talks of an “officer class” without experience of law enforcement to control policing from an overtly political agenda. It is doubtful that these recommendations will apply to the private companies currently tendering to take over the enforcement of law and order.
After already enduring a 20 per cent budget cut resulting in redundancy and a reduction in service, one might think that chief constables, senior officers and the humble foot soldier plods would be up in arms at such a blatantly political and money led attack on all that they, and us, hold dear. Sadly for them, the old bill is not allowed to comment on political issues and is not allowed to even consider industrial action.
Just to make sure that any possible dissent is stifled; our media savvy government has embarked on a campaign to rubbish the police. The ongoing Leveson inquiry continues to expose the Met as a viper`s nest of corruption, illegality and kebab eating. It is more than coincidence that the BBC was leaked Downing Street documents regarding the Hillsborough disaster on the very day that Winsor Two was published back in March. The families of the victims of that terrible day have waited 23 years for some semblance of truth surrounding police failure to avert the deaths and the cowardly attempt at a cover up. The lies peddled then to Prime Minister Thatcher by the long dead chief constable of Merseyside, Kenneth Oxford, prompted the disgusting Kelvin Mackenzie to publish the most disgraceful bile in the history of journalism. In desperation to deflect obvious blame, South Yorkshire Police were taking blood samples from corpses in a futile attempt to prove that dead supporters were drunk. The current chief constables of the Met, Merseyside and South Yorkshire cannot now offer any objections to Winsor`s proposals because the smears against the dead have now turned into smears against the police.
If the police are citizens in uniform, then they will obviously reflect the society that they police. In any street, village, town, city or work place, there will be corrupt, violent, racist, sexist, homophobic morons who pass themselves off as upstanding members of society. The same is true of the police and members of the houses of commons and lords. They are, thankfully, a minority and need to be crushed rather than promoted to positions of power. The coalition government, however, have different ideas and not just for the enforcement of law and order.
The appointment of Sir Michael Wilshaw as head of Ofsted, a Tory packed parliamentary committee to investigate the latest banking scandal that will gloss over the donations made to the Conservative Party by corrupt bankers and the appointment of a certain Naguib Kheraj as a non-executive member of the NHS Commissioning Board that is selling off health care to the likes of Branson and Serco, suggests that only the wealthy elite are considered as suitable characters to scrutinise the wealthy elite. Mr Kheraj is the current vice chairman of Barclays Bank plc. That`s not going to end well.
One can only hope that Sir Denis O`Connor enjoys his well deserved retirement. He is to be replaced as the Chief Inspector of Constabulary by none other than Tom Winsor. It would seem that to qualify as a gamekeeper, candidates no longer require any knowledge of poaching but must agree with the political views of the Lord of the estate and, if possible, donate a huge amount of cash to the Conservative Party.
Alimentary canal, my dear Watson.