June 23, 2006

Blair attacks justice

Law and Order is in the headlines. Again. Tony wants to be tough. Again. He says that we must rebalance the legal system, for the fortieth time. He says that we should be willing to give up yet more civil liberties in exchange for a little more civil order. Tony thinks that just a bit more power to central government and he can find a way of managing the problem. He's wrong.
On Friday Prof Loader told the BBC: "We have had 25 years of government that have taken law and order very seriously, shall we say. We have had 40 pieces of law and order legislation from this government.
"We have had countless new criminal offences, we've got a prison population that is bursting at the seams and we have got sentences in aggregate terms going up not going down."
And yet people no longer trust the police to tackle crime. Yet they also feel no longer able to deal with what are in reality very minor disturbances relying instead on the police.
"Believe it or not people will ring and complain that kids are playing football on the grass.
"The new way to get the police there, because people know we won't come for kids just playing football, is to say they are taking drugs, they are lighting fires or they are causing damage."
In the past instead of calling the police anybody sufficiently annoyed by any behaviour would have done what Sir Robert Peel expressed in his Nine Points of Policing as:
police are the public and the public are the police; the police being only members of the public who are paid to give full-time attention to duties which are incumbent on every citizen in the interests of community welfare and existence.
They would have moved them on themselves for the good of the community. But not anymore, the police are now an organ of central government rather than an extension of the the local community. Any citizen knows full well that should they try to attend to the duties which are incumbent on them in the interests of community welfare and existence the full might of the state will come down on them.

Now where have I seen this pattern before? Oh yes every single other time that central government has got too involved in what should be something that is better dealt with at a local level. The original ad hoc social control system have been destroyed by state interference and the state provided substitute has turned out to be not up to the task, as being directed from central government it is unable to adapt to local patterns.


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