Friday, August 12, 2011

Police lose the plot

The riots in the UK have made clear to even those who couldn't see the bleedin' obvious - especially the police and politicians - that the police have their policing wrong.

Exactly the same mistakes are being made by our police here and for the same basic reason.

In the UK, here in Australia and in many other western countries, they've changed the reason for their existence.

The primary role of police is preventing crime, protecting law abiding citizens from harm and property from damage. The key word is prevention.

That's what they've changed. And what a monumental and society-changing change it is.

Now they let the crimes happen and try to catch the perpetrators afterwards.

They changed police force to police service and started calling people they deal with their customers.

This change in police culture is broad in its reach. There wouldn't be many of us, for example, who haven't seen police with radar guns hiding behind shrubbery to catch people breaking the speed limit laws.

Allow them to break the law and catch them afterwards.

What they should be doing is preventing the lawbreaking. A police motorcycle rider sitting in full view would deter speeding, would prevent the lawbreaking, would give us safer roads.

At the other end of the scale it's the same. In the UK the rioters and looters were allowed to do as they pleased as the police stood and watched. They did nothing to prevent it. After the damage was done the police are using CCTV footage to arrest the criminals and bring them to court.

The criminal activity spread like wildfire as other morons saw that the London looters were allowed to do as they liked, so they copied it. And they were allowed to carry on unhindered.

What stopped it? Police out on the streets. Doing what they're supposed to do, prevent the lawlessness.

In the UK, exactly as we have here, cuts to the police budgets are blamed.

Simplistic rubbish.

The blame must go to the change in police thinking, on the way the resources are utilised and the thinking behind it. They're no longer a force but a service, with customers. They aren't on the beat, are not visible on the streets, but are sitting back in centralised police stations watching CCTV.

A few years back a mate's shop in Terrigal was ram-raided and a lot of valuable stock stolen. The shop is literally across the road from the police station. But that's all but been abandoned and is manned for only a few hours a day.

In the British parliament debate on the riots PM David Cameron said that at any one time only 12% of officers are on the beat. He refuses to accept that the police cannot be organised more effectively.

I'm sure the same applies here.

We need more effective use of the police we have and they need to go back to basics.

They need to be out on the streets preventing crime.

1 comment:

Grumpy Goat said...

An opinion that I've held for several years is that people break the law because they believe, at the time of the offence, that they'll get away with it. Take the examples of:-

"I'll drink a skinful and then drive home in the sure and certain knowledge that I won't get pulled unless I creep over the speed limit."

"There are hundreds of us nicking stereos out of this shop. They can't catch us all."

"My brother-in-law is the Chief of Police, and my Dh25,000 traffic fines will disappear as if by magic."

"There are no speed cameras on this road."

"I have planned so meticulously that it will be the perfect crime."

...and so on. The way to prevent offences is to employ credible, high-profile policing: If you break the law, you will get caught. And adorning every street light with CCTV that produces grainy images of lawful behaviour 99.99% of the time is not the solution.