The question has been asked this very week, on the cusp of the annual great getaway for people in the UK, as the school holidays begin and many depart for a break somewhere, leaving those same streets, and their homes, unoccupied for one or two weeks. It is a time when burglaries are a greater danger and usually warm summers, the easy availability of alcohol and the absence of uniformed Police officers mean that law-breakers can roam as they please.
Have the Police ever had ‘control of the streets’ however? I would argue that they never have, and more pertinently, never should.
The Police, and the Law of the Land, do not exist to exert control over anybody. The Law exists only to provide a structure for everybody to live their lives and, supposedly in the UK at least, to do so without let, hindrance or undue interference – by the state, its agents or other citizens. The Law was not created to prevent people from breaking it by exerting a power over people. It was created to provide the means of prosecuting and punishing those who defy it. In intent prosecution and punishment is supposed to be imposed only on those who deliberately choose to break it (and thus let, hinder or unduly interfere with somebody else). The Law was not intended to control the streets or anything or anybody and it was never intended to pursue and punish those who fall foul of it without intending to.
Often blamed for the perceived ineffectiveness of the Police today are the ‘cuts’ to their budgets since 2010, but the visible presence of the ‘bobby on the beat’ has been a noticeable absence from the streets of the UK for decades and especially so since the Tony Blair-led government of 1997 turned the Police effectively into the paramilitary wing of New Labour. Almost every Police Service across the UK has been run by politically-correct, university-educated puppets, most of whom have never been on the beat and haven’t risen through the ranks by dint of hard work and talent. More concerned with ticking boxes than actually pursuing those who do intentionally break the Law, Chief Constables are at the beck and call of career politicians (who in turn are habitually seekers of the favourable news headline).
If your home is ransacked while you are away this summer, the Police will not investigate it, seek to feel somebody’s collar for it and get your property back. They will however crack down ruthlessly on somebody who whistles at an attractive woman since this is now apparently a ‘hate-crime’ or even worse, a form of sexual assault. Yet many women, particularly those with longer memories and the wisdom that comes with getting a little older, will tell you that they have never found such a whistle ‘offensive’ but take it as something of a compliment. Others will say the opposite and this polarity of opinion is one of the reasons for the way in which the Police behave today – they will pursue on behalf of those who shout the loudest.
Chasing the whistler is also a means of chasing an easy target and ticking more of those boxes – any supposed ‘crime’ that can be ‘solved’ goes on clear-up records as just that so the more of them there are, the better it looks and the more some pygmy politician can boast about how tough they are on crime. Whistling at a woman may well be offensive to some and, on balance, is probably not the best way of expressing admiration for the good-looking (I’ve never done it myself and have no interest in doing so – there are better ways of complimenting somebody on their looks). Most would however, rather the Police used their resources to catch those who are breaking into homes and stealing one’s property, along with other real crimes.
So who does control the streets, if not the Police?
The answer is the ordinary citizen. Most do not drive over the speed limit, do not generally steal or commit assault on others, cause a breach of the peace or otherwise break the Law. It is the ordinary citizen who consents to the Police being given the powers that they have and it is the ordinary citizen who, in a free country, can and often are, the eyes and ears of the Police and call for their assistance in pursuing those who do break the Law.
And it is the ordinary citizen who should be calling the shots, not career politicians and certainly not the politically correct.
© Kevan James 2018
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