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What’s a proper copper?


THE BRITISH POLICE today are having a crisis. It’s not just a funding crisis — which the new PM, Johnson — has pledged to remedy – but a crisis of identity and purpose. You don’t have to be a reader of the lugubrious but well-informed Peter Hitchens to realise this: you just accept that if your house has been burgled the chances are the cops will be of no use at all. You also take it for granted that if you are a regular commentator on social media about sensitive topics of the day you may end up having the local plod taking an interest in your wrongthink. Somebody, somewhere may have had their feelings hurt. That may be enough for your local pc PC to give you a ring.

That’s what happened to Harry Miller, himself an ex-cop, who was phoned up by a member of Humberside Police about some allegedly transphobic tweets and retweets. Miller was informed that although no crime had been committed the whole thing would still be recorded as a “hate incident”. Compiling this ever-increasing list of hatred no doubt helps back up the establishment’s view of the populace as a heaving mass of diverse hatreds who thus deserve further surveillance and correction. The doozers in the media certainly like it, as do academics and other useful idiots. In the real world in which the rest of us live and pay our taxes it’s an offensive, authoritarian intrusion and a waste of police time.

What we want is cops collaring villains and keeping our streets safe for us to walk along, a rather old-fashioned concept to some. We don’t want to watch officers bedecked with rainbow regalia mincing to the music at one of the Gay Pride marches that seem to be springing up everywhere these days. Or see pictures of this or that force’s special car painted in rainbow colours to express solidarity with the gay community (good luck parking that outside your local mosque, matey), or laying down a Pride carpet or flying a Pride flag or any of the other ludicrous gestures they indulge in. Be as gay as you want, officer, but do it in your own time, in your own home and not in your uniform, thank you very much.

That deliberate blurring of the boundary between private and public, between the personal and the professional, is a notable characteristic of our times. More and more we see individuals in public office using the position to display their own personal tastes or the politics of some group or class to which they belong. Rachel Swann, Deputy Chief Constable of Derbyshire, found herself in a minor spat when she was overseeing the police response to the dangers with a damaged dam wall in Whaley Bridge. She sported a coiffure of highly spiked and highlighted hair. The media tried to make out the criticism was down to sexism, which was nonsense. People simply felt that her appearance should reflect the seriousness of her position, and looking like a superannuated punk from 1978 did not do that, however excellent she may be at her job.

All of this is ultimately detrimental for the police and the public. It’s bad for the police because they demean themselves by such displays and inevitably signal weakness to the truly violent and disruptive elements of society. It’s bad for the public because they can see certain groups are favoured above the generality; minorities seem to outrank the majority.

Neither is the situation helped vis à vis minorities when such a high-ranking officer such as Neil Basu, Assistant Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police, says that British Muslims should not be forced to assimiliate: “Assimilation implies that I have to hide myself in order to get on. We should not be a society that accepts that.” On the contrary, that’s exactly the society we should be. The alternative is Balkanisation. But Basu is clearly a man of the orthodoxy: he believes Islamic violence is a result of failures in education, social mobility and employment. Except that most of the home-grown terrorists suffered from none of these problems. So what is the answer? Basu wants “good academics, good sociologists, good criminologists … to be telling us exactly why that is.” Exactly the type of people you should not trust about anything. They’ll just reiterate the view that it’s all our fault and nothing to do with Islam. It’s laughable.

And finally, much to the chagrin of the ordinary officer having to cope with the lack of funding, the wasteful virtue signalling of some superiors, the despair of the general public and the terrible dangers of just doing their job (as PC Outten knows, having been seriously injured by man with a machete in London), the cretins in the College of Policing have decided that from 2020 all new PCs will have to be educated to degree level. The degree business is an expensive scam. Most people don’t need a degree. The police don’t. Any special technical training that they may need can be done without going through the palaver of university accreditation. Lincolnshire’s Police and Crime Commissioner, Marc Jones, has supported the local force’s judicial review against the move. Let’s hope others follow suit.

As for the public, who seem to have less and less of a say in anything that is done in their name and with their cash, they continue to state they just want traditional policing so they feel safe in their homes and streets. Which is why they admire officers like PC Outten and wish him a full recovery.

suxcoverCurrente Calamo columnist, poet and writer Michael Blackburn lives in Lincolnshire. A Royal Literary Fund Fellow at Lincoln University (2005 – 2008), his poetry has appeared in numerous publications and anthologies over the years, including Being Alive (Bloodaxe) and Something Happens, Sometimes Here (Five Leaves Press). His most recent book is Albion Days (perennisperegrinator press). Sucks to Your Revolution is a collection of his Fortnightly columns.

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