Conservative Diary

« Osborne said to be considering introducing tolls on motorways | Main | We ought to be much, much more angry about hospital treatment of the very elderly »

The police's bleak mid-winter

By Paul Goodman
Follow Paul on Twitter.

Screen shot 2012-12-23 at 09.03.29The media pendulum that swung all the way, one way, is now swinging all the way, the other - and knocking the police off their perch:

"Last week on Any Questions, broadcast from a Buckinghamshire village, Jonathan Dimbleby gasped as the majority of his audience indicated they were losing trust in the police. Where once minority communities seemed alone in raising doubts, middle England has found common cause. This is not a crisis, but it is serious, and it must be addressed by police leaders. Elected police and crime commissioners must fulfil their new mandate to hold the police to account."

"It is hard to exaggerate the gravity of this case...Elements of the police are apparently out of control. The government couldn’t withstand them. The opposition effectively acted as the parliamentary wing of the Police Federation. The media — with the honourable exception of Channel 4 — failed in its job of scrutinising the powerful. And if this can happen in the heart of Whitehall, to a senior government minister, then most assuredly it can happen to any one of us, anywhere."

"The humiliation of Theresa May, the Home Secretary, at the last Police Federation Conference springs to mind, as does the behaviour of certain factions in the Federation that have exploited the Plebgate story. Not only were these individuals wrong to adopt the tactics that they did, they were also foolish, for now it is they who are in the dock, in effect, not the man who did the swearing. Their treatment of Mitchell was injudicious and juvenile".

Above all, there are Andrew Gilligan's incredible statistics in the Telegraph, reminding readers  that in the last 18 months almost a fifth of Chief Constables have recently been sacked, suspended, investigated or forced to quit.  And Andrew Mitchell tells his own story in nearly 6000 words behind the Sunday Times paywall.

It's worth noting that only slightly more people believe Mr Mitchell than the police - so the public view is less one-sided than today's commentary suggests.  But the investigation is not yet concluded.  There is more to come.  The Mitchell story, following hard on the heels of Hillsborough, is very bad indeed for the police.

Theresa May now has the political space to tackle police practices and conditions in the New Year that she didn't have only a week ago.  And over at Political Betting, Mr Mitchell's Christmas Comeback story reaches a frenzied climax.  Mike Smithson says that the former Chief Whip might be the next Conservative leader.


You must be logged in using Intense Debate, Wordpress, Twitter or Facebook to comment.