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Peter Reynolds

The life and times of Peter Reynolds

Posts Tagged ‘police commissioner

UK Drug Strategy 2010 – A Plan To Fail

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Mother Knows Best

Gone are the days when central Government tells communities and the public what to do.

Rt. Hon. Theresa May, MP, Home Secretary, December 2010

A slim volume of treacle-like and turgid social worker-speak shot through with a few strands of sharp hypocrisy.  See here.

A disappointment?  Not really, it’s pretty much what I expected – an authoritarian, moralistic smokescreen behind which the government will do what it wants with no regard whatsoever for the views or the welfare of the people.  It stinks.

It claims to be radical in that it turns away from reducing the harms caused by drugs and instead aims to force abstinence. In other words, do as we say or suffer the consequences.  It is, in fact, a medieval solution to a 21st century problem.  It seems that the British government no longer cares about the harm caused by drugs.  All it cares about is that you STOP!  This is the ultimate exposition of Nancy Reagan’s discredited “Just Say No” campaign because it really is “just” say “no” – no other option exists.  This from a government that advocates giving people methadone  to “treat” cannabis use.  Can you believe it?  That isn’t medieval. It’s prehistoric – or perhaps better described as mid 20th century, a sort of Dr Mengele method.

I give Ms May credit for one thing.  She mentions alcohol alongside drugs in the first sentence of her foreword.  That is progress but from then on there is little of any value.  Nothing that you couldn’t have copied from any out of date A level textbook on social work.

The laughable assertion quoted above that the government doesn’t tell us what to do is just absurd.  Never has there been a more hard line approach to the drugs issue.  See Edwin Stratton’s article in The Guardian here which reveals just how draconian, anti-civil liberties and severe this government is.

In the penultimate paragraph of her foreword, Ms May acknowledges that there were calls during consultation on the strategy for “liberalisation and decriminalisation”.  She dismisses these as not “the answer” but fails entirely to consider the enormous harm caused and crime created by existing policies.  I will be making Freedom Of Information requests to determine just how much notice was taken of the consultation.

There is a complete failure to understand or consider the harms of prohibition.  Britain now stands as one of the most backward and restrictive countries in the world when it comes to drug policy.  We now rub shoulders with those countries that execute people for drug possession.  There is no civilised country in the world with a more repressive drugs policy than Britain.

Broken Britain

Emphasis is given to the introduction of elected Police and Crime Commissioners.  I support this move.  Hopefully, these elected officials, being closer to reality and not ensconsed in Whitehall’s ivory towers, will mitigate some of the damage that this strategy could cause.  They will have the impossible job of trying to implement these ideas and will surely give Ms May and her protege James “Broken Britain” Brokenshire some lessons in reality and common sense.

The statistics and figures quoted in the strategy are manifest nonsense.  Apparently the economic and social costs of Class A drug use are £15.4 billion per annum while the equivalent figure for alcohol is £18 – 25 billion.  Supposedly the total illicit drug market in Britain is worth just £4 – 6 billion per annum while the market for alcohol is £30 billion.  There are just 320,000 heroin and/or crack cocaine users but tens of million that use alcohol.  These figures just don’t add up.  Maybe that’s part of the reason this strategy is so badly conceived and directed.

It’s only part of the reason though.  The main problem is that the government’s approach is based on prejudice and an arrogant, moralistic, proselytising stance.  See David Nutt’s article here on what the government would do if a completely safe alternative to ecstasy was developed.  Prohibition is immoral and evil in itself.  When will our politicians wake up to what most of the rest of Europe and the USA already knows?

Powerful Medicine. Gentle Pleasure.

Cannabis, the most widely used illegal drug by a factor of at least 10 barely gets a mention except in passing.  This, in itself, exposes the inane content of this strategy.  The government apparently intends to deal with cannabis in exactly the same way as it deals with heroin and crack.  The medicinal use of cannabis, now a burgeoning industry and source of hope to people all over Europe and America isn’t even mentioned.  The crass stupidity of this strategy is almost beyond belief.

So the battle lines are drawn.  Every other civilised country in the world is coming to terms with the fact that the war on drugs is unwinnable, even lost.  Theresa May, like some mad first world war general, is blowing her whistle and urging on millions more to go over the top into certain death, or at least misery and degradation.  Her slightly fey, sweet boy, Colonel Jimmy is hiding behind her, determined to gain credit for something but definitely not doing anything worthwhile, “Crikey!  Not me. I’m staying safe.”

This could be a deeply depressing day but at least now we know where we stand.  David Cameron and Nick Clegg have completely turned around on the progressive and liberal ideas they have advocated in the past.  Nothing is a better indicator of the integrity and intelligence of a government than its drug policy.  Britain is shamed by this effort which will inevitably cause more harm, cost more money and ruin more lives.

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Anti-Social Police Behaviour

with 23 comments

Out Of Control

The British police are out of control.  Far from becoming a politically correct “service”, they’re moving more and more towards the “force” ethos, promoting their own self-interest and resisting all attempts to be subject to democratic control.  The sooner we get elected police commissioners the better.  Those presently in charge of the police increasingly place themselves above the law and regard the public as the opposition, not the people they are paid to protect and serve.

They’re even trying to frighten us over the spending cuts, suggesting that any reduction in police budgets will lead to increased crime and disorder.  What other public service with its budget under threat uses direct fear of violence as its response?  I call that scaremongering.  I call it precious close to a protection racket, to blackmail and extortion.

The police are very, very good at road accidents.  There are brave and clever men and women in anti-terrorism and serious crime.  But we lost the British bobby sometime ago now.  I’d say it was in the 1990s.  Dixon Of Dock Green had retired to the other side of the world.  Jack Regan was supposed to have gone but he returned disguised as Gene Hunt.  The TSG continued its long tradition of brutality providing a career path for violent thugs.  The term “institutionalised racism” was coined.  The cars got faster.  The uniforms got sexier in a Nazi stormtrooper sort of way.   Meanwhile, in parallel,  the gay rights, politically correct, sociology graduates and new Labour bureaucrats gained influence and these two factions, fundamentally incompatible, consumed huge quantities of police time and procedure,  and eventually created a perfect storm of bureaucracy, corruption and laziness.  The police lost touch with the people completely.

The police don’t want to be accountable to anybody.   Even when they assault members of the public, even when innocent bystanders die at the hands of police officers in disguise, they close ranks, obstruct justice, lie, cheat and dissemble to avoid the consequences.  Now,  Sir Paul Stephenson, not content with the way his officers pervert the criminal justice system, wants some sort of immunity from the civil courts.  His secret letter to Theresa May, seeking protection against officers being sued for brutality or wrongful arrest is a disgrace.  See here. It reveals his true intentions only too clearly.  He even wants to charge for requests under the Freedom Of Information Act, further tightening the police culture of secrecy and concealment.   It is truly terrifying that Britain’s most senior police officer should even contemplate such ideas.  It is the very opposite of responsibility and conclusive proof that he is not a fit and proper person to be any sort of policeman, let alone commissioner of the Metropolitan police.  Theresa May should dismiss him immediately.   He is a power hungry, manipulative, enemy of justice.  No sort of protector or champion or servant of the public at all.

When it comes to the brutal assault by Sergeant Delroy Smellie on Nicola Fisher or the death of Ian Tomlinson, clearly caused by PC Simon Harwood, most of us would be prepared to accept the “bad apple” argument.   Yet somehow, in the Nicola Fisher case, District Judge Daphne Wickham was persuaded to refuse to hear Ms Fisher’s statement in court.  Somehow,  over a year and a half after Ian Tomlinson was killed, PC Harwood has still not been called to account for his actions and is still suspended on full pay.  Neither have his colleagues who blatantly lied and tried to cover up what had happened.  The truth is these men are not bad apples.  They are the deliberate product of the Met’s Territorial Support Group (TSG).  In hiding their identification and using brutal, disproportionate violence, they are entirely consistent with the culture and training that their senior officers have designed.

Hero

Of course, there are still good cops, selfless, conscientious heroes like PC Bill Barker who genuinely seek to serve the public.  He gave his life while protecting people during the Cumbrian floods.  See here.   He deserves every honour that we can bestow on him.  He shames all those corrupt, cowardly bullies that infect our country, that hide in their offices and cars, that display their vile and despicable attitudes on the Inspector Gadget website.   Officers like PC Barker are now in the minority, in full scale retreat, ridiculed and excluded by a wannabe Gene Hunt culture that has attracted more and more borderline psychopaths to the paramilitary uniform and fast car culture.

Role Model

Now they don’t even think that anti-social behaviour is police work.  It’s not exciting or glamorous enough.  In the early noughties in North Kensington, I saw how the police completely lost control of the Avenues, the terraced houses between the Harrow Road and Queens Park.  The police from Kilburn and Paddington Green stations were in full scale retreat, absolutely impotent and useless in the face of gangs of kids aged 10 – 16, on the streets at all hours, abusing people, keying cars, throwing eggs and laughing at any authority or discipline.   Those hooligans and yobs are now breeding and the police are reaping what they’ve sown.  I expect their solution will be violence and “fit-ups”.  They’re no different from the lowlife,  layabouts themselves.  They’re just two sides of the same coin.

Illegal Weapon

The Raoul Moat affair revealed how the police have lost the plot.   While some officers proved their courage and worth, others indulged in an orgy of technology, expense, hiding behind their procedures and precautions.  Others used banned super-Tasers, illegally obtained from their cronies in the arms industry and undoubtedly caused the death of the mad nutter.  Not a bad result but achieved in a dreadful way.  It was a dismal and demeaning epsiode for all concerned.  See here.

Corruption is endemic in the police.  It starts at the beginning of every shift and continues off duty.  At its worst, it’s the disgusting spectacle of PC Stephen Mitchell in Newcastle, who inflicted his sexual desires and drug appetite on those he arrested.  See here.  At the everyday, commonplace level, it’s the copper who confiscates a bag of weed and takes it home to smoke himself, or who brutalises a wheelchair bound medicinal cannabis user.  It’s the thugs who think it’s acceptable to terrorise and batter an old man over a motoring offence.  See here.

Elected police commissioners are our only hope.  I applaud the coalition government for bringing forward this proposal and acting on it.  I see no other way of rolling back the  Stasi-like culture that the Labour party has allowed to flourish.  Beware though, those that put themselves forward for election as a commissioners are in the front line.  They risk the attention of the police establishment in ways that we cannot yet know.  I wonder how many candidates will have their personal lives investigated and possibly fabricated?  Any prospective commissioner who wants to disrupt the comfortable life of the police may find himself in the firing line.   All sorts of inconveniences,  stops and searches, investigations and embarrassments may be just around the corner.

The police want us to believe that if they are squeezed in the spending review we will face danger, disorder and violence in the streets.  Instead, what we must do is paralyse the police bureaucracy, starve it of the resources it needs to promote its self-fulfilling prophecies and force officers back onto the streets. We will pay for shoe leather but not for air conditioned limousines.  We will support bobbies on the beat but not poseurs in flashy SUVs.   We will not tolerate any sort of discrimination or favouritism.  No officer may be a freemason or belong to any secret organsation.  We must fight for the soul and integrity of our police service against the corrupt thugs that have infiltrated it.

The British people deserve police officers they can be proud of.