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Oberon Houston

Locally elected and removing targets will help sure. Funny thing happened yesterday (sorry Louise to digress), I was quaffing champangne and canapes in St Pancras yesterday (very nice), but we were talking about (Sir) Blair and detention, and a hack next to us got agitated and butted in and ranted along the lines of 'politicians know nothing, of course the police need to decide'. I politely pointed out that only Pakistani Generals and (Sir) Blair would agree with that. David Davis is talking about just this on Today right now...

Oberon Houston

..just finished listening to David Davis on 'Today', it was the best performance of a shadow on that program I have heard for a long time. Humphry's was doing his old trick of provocative interrupting language and was shown up to be poorly briefed. ho ho.

Best bit was when he said (in reply to DD), 'that's a bit complicated' (i.e. policy needs to be explained in 10sec on Today to be good), DD replied 'no it isn't, its very simple'.

Anyway he also pointed out that Admiral West changed his mind on detention within 3hours yesterday after Brown clobbered him. What a disgrace.

Alex Swanson

Well said Louise.

One further point: we need to get rid of the mentality which appears to be increasingly gaining ground: the idea that the police are agents of the State, not of the people.

Chris Ward

"the disgusting behaviour of the Metropolitan Police in threatening Britons who objected to Al-Qaeda supporting extremists"

"politicised police officers harassing Christians – including vicars - for merely expressing Christian teaching on sexuality"

I suppose incitement to hatred is OK when Christians are doing it Louise?

Tony Makara

I am not opposed to the PCSOs, they are good people who want to serve their community and we should channel that sort of social responsibility in the right direction. However events have shown that the role of the PCSOs is confused and that they lack the desired amount of training to do the job. They also are too bogged down by pedantic rules as the tragic incident of a child drowning has demonstrated. If we are to have the PCSOs as an auxiliary force then let's give them real training, the power to detain until a regular officer can decide if an actual arrest is warranted, and free them to use their initiative in situations that require an immediate response.


Hinch may remind people of the Tottenham 3 when he comes online, to be brief, there was a time when people quite happily look to police for minor assistance and help. The Police were organisers of civilian repsonse to crime, calling on members of the public to pursue and arrest criminals. The police themselves did not consider themselves above the law or indeed anything other than civilians granted enhanced power of arrest.

The very fact that people are now fearful of the police and seem to feel that any encounter with them has to result in an arrest has led to them generally being distrusted and avoided by the general public.

They are freqently seen as being agents of state, there to enforce the goverbment's authority, not as agents of the public who have delegated their rights of self protection and property protection to them as trained individuals, who in theory, are better able to deal with the criminal clasess.

As civil conservatives we should remember two things; that the police were originally a voluntary force who were organised civilians enforcing law, and second that it was the vacuum created by corrupt and racist police in New York, who's treatment of the immigrant Italians at the turn of the 20th century led to the rise of the mafia, first as organised vigilantes, then as organised crime.

The effective disbanding of the police force as "men of the people", as civilians enforcing law, has led to a vacuum that could, and I suspect in some parts of inner cities, has been replaced by vigilanteism and protection rackets. We need to address this.

John Leonard

I agree with much of what you say but would ask whether the changes we have seen in the activities of our police is purely a 'weakening' of their function or part of a realignment of their function to better suit the 'Vision' of the current government?

Anon Copper

"a speeding ticket is all wrapped up in minutes and counts towards a “crime solved” target"

Sorry Louise, no it doesn't. You may feel that bashing every aspect of policing is a definite winner, and in lots of respects you are right to draw attention, but not to one of the most ridiculous and oft-repeated myths; speeding motorists do not commit a recordable crime, and so dealing with one of these 'offences' does not result in what is termed a sanction based detection (or a solved crime)...

"We need to replace PCSOs"

And this is quite an incredible policy shift, have you consulted anyone about this?

Finally, to say the police need to be reformed so dramatically really misses everything. We don't need hugescale reform, we have been reformed SO MANY TIMES, what we need is a breather, to stop and take stock and look at the fundamental problems. The constant cutting and changing of policing-which politicians, and I'm sorry Louise, you included- do not understand is not useful.

We need a royal commission in to policing with all it's recommendations implemented, not politically expedient proposed changes to the job just to suit whichever party is in the papers this week.

Brian W

The police force should be above politics as they used to be, but I fear that like so many facets of our life, they are becoming increasingly politicised and are seen to be a tool of central government.

Restore pride and respect in our police force and let them fight all types of crime as they are supposed to have been trained to do

Oberon Houston

Anon Copper: Speeding tickets aren't recordable, but theft is, so the case where a mum asked the cops to give her son a talking to for taking £10 out of her purse ended up with him down the station being charged, DNA'd, printed and criminalised. Good policing goes hand in hand with good community relations - targets work against this. In addition to this crime that is easier to solve is high-graded down the station, whilst crime that is difficult to solve, like car crime and break-in's suffer as a result. Targets are not a good idea.

Rather than looking to close down this debate, we should be encouraging it. I think it should be up to local communities as to how their policing budget should be spent. Personally I would prefer less utility-belted robo-cops flashing warrant cards around as if they are inhuman enforcers striving to meet crime targets by booking kids for theft and spending two days on the papaerwork. I would prefer more recognisable local lads enrolled into a force that is accountable and integrated with the community.

btw... Don't mean to bash cops too much, but whilst we are on the subject, is it just me or are all the ITV2 cop shows blatant self promtion?


Let it never be forgotten that the first 'removal of police from public'came in the sixties by the serious and continuous abuse of authority by those local councillors on 'watch committee's' so lets hope we never return to those days.

Tony Makara

The chairman of the police federation has tonight given the government a lashing Manchester's local TV station 'Channel M'. Watch the interview at the website below. Mr Kelly leaves us in no doubt that the he and other officers blame the government for the problems in policing today. Look in the info bar on the right to find the interview.


Dick Wishart

What we really need is to get the police back from being the police service into the police FORCE.

Andrew Langley

The police could always do with more money and probably need it. But like so many of our failing public services the answers do not lie in simply throwing never ending resources at it.
The politicalisation by the liberal elite, turning our force into a social service, gathering information and statistics on us, rather than policing the streets, is the real reason. We are told society is at fault and that we collectively tolerate a higher level of direspect and anti-social behaviour. I disagree - the silent majoirty stand back in wonderment at the wreckage which is our towns and cities on a Friday and Saturday night, and fail to understand why our police, allow such disgusting behaviour. I guess they have more important work to do like investigating whether Kelvin Mackenzie has breached any thought crime laws on being too beastly to underproductive Scots.

We have to rip out the do gooders political yes men, at the top of the Police force, and replace with no nonesense coppers. I don't care if they are no good in front of the media, or televisual, of fill the right profile. I want to know that my local Chief Constable will enforce the laws that matter to most decent people, and clean up our streets, with zero tolerance.

Louise Bagshawe

First of all, Anon Copper, thank you for your service.

I have to disagree with you, though. You may be wary of politicians, but they are directly elected by the people - quangoes and other bodies are not. The police do need to be made accountable to local communities.

It was announced yesterday that Northamptonshire Police have received more complaints against them by members of the public than any other police force in the country (IPCC stats).

Meanwhile, while "speeding ticket" may not be a crime as such, it's semantics - many lesser crimes are counted as equivalent to greater ones.

Take this Daily Mail article:


Police were told to stop chasing a paedophile ring because it was only one "tick in the box".

Sound ludicrous? It's from a Police Federation review.

And what do you say to this (same source, the Police Federation)

"The review also found that a specially-equipped car, staffed by a traffic officer and a senior detective, was diverted to catching drivers who were not wearing their seatbelts rather than tracking known criminals."

This sort of small motoring offence is what I am talking about. The point is backed up here:

"For example, the measurement of "Offenders Brought to Justice" counts all offences as equal. This means that catching a rapist or paedophile carries no more importance than fining a drunk."

This is utterly wrong. It must be stopped. If Labour will not stop it, the Tories must.

"Alan Gordon, vice chairman of the Police Federation, said: "Some of the staffing levels have reached an appallingly low scale.

"We were given examples of in the City of Sheffield just one detective on duty for nights.

"That officer would be expected to attend every serious assault, an allegation of rape, a serious burglary, whatever."

ONE detective for the whole of Sheffield!

And what does Labour's minister Tony McNulty say to police officers who complain bitterly of being prevented from doing their jobs?

He said of the Police Federation: "they over-egg and exaggerate to make a point."

How patronising and dismissive is that?

British policing is in crisis. Conservatives are right to want to reform it. Targets that treat lesser offences the same as serious ones must be the first thing to go, along with the insane amount of paperwork. But ultimately the police must be sunk into their local communities to be free to do what they want to do for our society.

Tony Makara

Louise, you are right. The recent case of a small boy being pulled in by the police for throwing a sausage is exactly the sort of thing that is costing our police the time to fight real crime. Even the judge in the sausage-case found the whole scenario absurd. This is all about the Labour government using our police force to provide statistics to make Labour look good, and as we know its easier to build up a wad of stats by including tiny transgressions. As for Tony McNulty make him serve a month as a front line officer on the streets of London or Manchester and he will soon change his tune, that is if his nerves are still intact after the experience.

Anon Copper

Louise, I'm sure it won't be long before I can reciprocate the thanks for your service following the next election.

I have to point out that when you observe that the IPCC has received more complaints about Nottinghamshire than any other force that you should also be aware (if you aren't already) that despite the gleeful BBC reporting of the increases in complaints against police that within the actual story was the reality that substanciated complaints against police had yet again fallen, and stand at a level of about 8% of total complaints. The public being able to complain and feel they will get a fair hearing is vitally important and I know that many see the IPCC as toothless and all about cover ups, but I can only assure you that within the police they are seen as out to get us- and this difference of opinions can only mean that they are doing a good job of toeing that line.

I can take on board a lot of your points, but I know you will forgive me for trying to remain as apolitical as I can when I respond to them; Which retards my arguments quite badly but is a condition of my employment!

The difficulty within policing is quite complex, and to resolve is will require cutting through incredible amounts of bureaucracy. It is far more complex than merely cutting paperwork which is what I hear constantly- I really do appreciate the sentiment but it isn't the problem we face. The paperwork is not horrendous, it's bad, but no worse than a fairly paperwork-heavy job in the private sector.

The problem with policing has arisen from HAVING to crime jobs that you know are not crimes in the public interest. In the front
line we have zero-discretion when it comes to determining whether the incident we respond to is a crime; It has often already been allocated a crime report and therefore we are duty-bound to investigate it as such, and yes this often includes arrests where you cringe whilst making them.

The National Crime Recording Standards, while not a 'sexy' subject represents one of the barriers to effective and efficient policing, and it is this that could be reformed to assist us straight away. The day after we are given our discretion back on the front line, I can promise that every single one of us would be out doing 'proper' policing whenever we had the opportunity. The problem is, that in order to actually resolve this problem and to reform the NCRS politicians would need to take the step of doing something potentially unpopular (Nobody is going to want to call in a job and be told 'it isn't a crime' and will blame the govt for it) in the interests of the country.

That is pretty much what it comes down to, and in all these stories is the recurring theme. Officers having to investigate 'crimes' that we know down in the rank-and-file are not crimes the public would want us investigating.

Unfortunately the police make a good punchbag for blaming when these ridiculous incidents occurs, but in reality we just follow the 'reforms' that successive governments have already performed of us. The public needs to accept a certain amount of responsibility for this, and politicians need to examine their own contribution to the problem.

They do say the public gets the police force is deserves. Maybe it's time every one of us examined exactly how we have contributed to our decline.

Chris Ward


Your comments are riddled with dogma, and you link to the Daily Hate Mail as if it's a balanced and dignified source of news and information.

You say that PCSOs (and presumably also Community Safety Wardens) are a bad thing. In my ward, the CSW and the PCSO acts as an intrinsic and needed link between the community and the police. Anti-social behaviour is kept limited by them, leaving the police to concentrate on the very serious crimes (and yes, I count your 'paedophile ring' example as a serious crime, which I'm sure you'll agree police should be spending more time on as opposed to stretching them to deal with issues that PCSOs are more than capable of dealing with). If you had been a councillor before being parachuted into your target seat, you would understand the value of these civil servants, and perhaps you wouldn't be so at odds with your own party on that subject.

The police are too often used as a political football, and to be frank, it angers even politicians (me included). I suggest you spend an evening on the beat with officers in Corby on a Friday night (which I'm sure you will do at some point for a leaflet photo opportunity anyway). It might open your eyes a bit.

Louise Bagshawe

Anon Copper, I think the answer is given in your own reply. Give the police much broader discretion - but at the same time, make them accountable to their local communities directly. That way we could ensure that local people receive the police force they want.

Chris Ward, I have not been parachuted anywhere -after being selected by local people in an open primary, I live in the area I hope to represent with my whole family; our children are in school here; we have no other home. I am, I assure you, in lock step with my councillors on this issue. PCSOs are valuable only when they are not substituted for real police officers with the powers of arrest and detention. We were recently threatened with just such a substitution (luckily there was an outcry, as I reported in the article, and the treat went away). In the rural parts of the constituency, it is no good having a PCSO wait around in Lutton after calling in a police constable from, say, Thrapston - the yobs will be long gone.

Special Constables are fully trained and have arrest powers. I absolutely favour their increase in place of PCSOs, who have a very short training period and cannot arrest anyone. The Special Constable would have an equal or better deterrent effect, while giving added value to the community at a decent cost.

I believe I know my own local area better than you; after I posted this article, remarking on the complaints I am inundated with as a PPC, the local paper reports IPCC stats that our county has the greatest number of complaints in the country. So the anecdotal evidence is backed up by IPCC statistics.

Do I blame the police? I most certainly do not. As anon copper says, they are acting under compulsory guidelines. I think it's rather puerile of you to call it the "Hate Mail". I suggest you read the article, which mainly quotes from the Police Federation itself as to what they are fed up with. I will take the opinions of the Police Federation on board as vitally important, and something I intend to listen to.

Everybody who joins the police force wants to serve. It is our job to ensure they're allowed to do just that.

Chris Ward

Louise, I will provide you with a fuller response a bit later. But I take issue with one thing you have said...

"I believe I know my own local area better than you"

I was brought up in Corby. I went to primary school there, did my GCSEs there, and did my A-Levels in the constituency. I have very strong family roots in Corby, and four generations of my family live there. My Grandad was a headteacher in the town for years, and is now a school governor. You have lived there for a matter of months whereas I did for over a decade. It is facetious of you to suggest that you know more about the place I grew up in just because you've been selected as a Tory PPC there. That sort of arrogance and obnoxiousness will not get proud Corby people voting for you.

Sean Fear

"the disgusting behaviour of the Metropolitan Police in threatening Britons who objected to Al-Qaeda supporting extremists"

"politicised police officers harassing Christians – including vicars - for merely expressing Christian teaching on sexuality"

I suppose incitement to hatred is OK when Christians are doing it Louise?"

I'm not aware of any British Christians organising demonstrations in favour of organisations like Al Qaeda. Could you enlighten us?

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