Peter Reynolds

The life and times of Peter Reynolds

Posts Tagged ‘cynicism

Nick Clegg – The Boy’s Own Politician

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"Is it a bird? Is it a plane?"

It’s a film script, a comicbook cartoon, a dazzling adventure story.  It lifts the spirit and refreshes the soul.  It’s a politician you can believe in!  It’s Nick Clegg!

I hope so.  I really, really do.  I hope I am living through a huge moment in history when two bright, inspirational leaders take the helm of HMS Great Britain and steer us through the storm to calm waters and the broad sunlit uplands beyond.

Nick Clegg’s speech today was as inspirational as they come.  If history views him kindly then this speech will rank with Churchill, Disraeli, Martin Luther King, Obama.   He deserves our trust.  If he has got it wrong or can’t deliver there will be plenty of time for recriminations and to return to dull cynicism.

For now,  let us believe.

Plod – the truth about our wonderful police force

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I admit, I am not a 100% law abiding citizen.  I park on yellow lines.  I exceed the speed limit.  I smoke weed.  BUT I would describe myself as a strong supporter of the police.  Any society has to have rules and that means there has to be someone to enforce them.  I don’t envy the police in their responsibilities and I admire the way that many of them are fulfilled.  If you’ve ever been in a traffic accident and seen the way they deal with such chaos amidst the confusion, fear and danger, you have to admire their training and focus.  If you’ve ever lived in central London and experienced the little shits, wasters and a***holes who plague the streets then you have to admire their patience and persistence.

I think “institutional racism” was probably a fair criticism but then it was born out of the fact that the majority of street violence and crime was carried out by young black men – and still is.  If I was a policeman I’d probably be “stopping and searching” more blacks than whites.  It wouldn’t be my job to worry about the causes and the social whys and wherefores.  My job would be to protect the public.

There is another institution in the police though and its been there for years.  You can call it cynicism.  You can understand it by realising that they see themselves, inevitably, as separated from the rest of us – on another side.  You can appreciate how the ridiculous administrative load they are placed under grinds them down. BUT they can be their own worst enemies when they deal with people in a way that alienates and antagonises those that want to support them.

I had an experience with my local police in Havant recently that, at the end of the day, just makes me sad.  It’s a leadership issue really and whilst I feel pretty sore at the rather stupid young policewoman who tried to stitch me up, I don’t really blame her.  She’s a foot soldier, not gifted with huge intelligence and steeped in this destructive culture of “us and them”.

I had some property stolen from me in what you might call a “domestic” context.  In fact it wasn’t mine.  If it was I’d probably have let it go but I had to get it back and I had no option but to look to the police to do their job and enforce the law.

So, knowing all too well that if I telephoned it in or even went to the police station to report it, I’d just be brushed aside, I made a written complaint.

After two weeks I’d had no response at all so I managed (with extreme difficulty) to find an email address and sent a reminder.  It took several further emails and a number of telephone calls before, nearly six weeks after my initial complaint, a crime reference number was allocated.

Another week later I attended at Havant police station to make a statement.  I very much had the impression that the policewoman was just going through the motions and she was much more interested in any detail that would enable her to write the matter off as a “domestic” rather than deal with the real issue.  I did say to her that I felt I was entitled to rely on the police to take action but I didn’t think that was unreasonable.

Nevertheless, she took my statement and was pleasant enough.  She made some small talk and casually enquired how I had travelled to the police station and where I was parked.

As she showed me out of the police station we met two of her colleagues in the corridor who I held the door open for.  I returned to my car, drove less than 25 yards from my parking space and was suddenly and violently intercepted by a police van driving across in front of me.

The two colleagues I had met in the police station emerged from the van and told me that they proposed to breathalyse me.  They called another car in and I found myself on the pavement surrounded by four police officers being made to take a breath test – which I passed.

Draw your own conclusions.  Mine are that I have no confidence in Havant police at all, in their bona fides, good intentions, integrity, intelligence or even common sense.  I don’t blame the policewoman involved because she’s just a victim of the police culture that creates this sort of stupid, dumb, “us and them” culture.

In the higher echelons of the police force there are clearly some very clever people doing fantastic work on matters such as anti-terrorism and thank God they are.  Amongst the footsoldiers, as well as the heroes and those who understand their role as a public servants,  there are undoubtedly inadequate individuals who choose a uniform to bolster their own self image and who enjoy wielding authority that is beyond their ability.

It is a leadership issue.  If you antagonise, offend, upset and deal shabbily with those you are supposed to “protect and serve” then where do you expect your support to come from?

Written by Peter Reynolds

July 15, 2008 at 11:20 pm