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July 03, 2007

The Police Problem

When you lose the law abiding then the police really do have a very large problem:

They may be the last line of defence against international terrorism. And I have a lot of respect for the difficult job that many policemen do when you read insider blogs like Inspector Gadget or PC Copperfield. But despite all that, they have a trust problem. Somewhere between speed cameras, the Forest Gate raid and the arrogance of Sir Ian Blair, they lost it.

July 3, 2007 in Your Tax Money at Work | Permalink

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Comments

Interesting is how he points to Inspector Gadget's blog for support only to have it largely blown away by Inspector Gadget's comment.

Posted by: IanCroydon | Jul 3, 2007 3:17:17 PM

Hmm - I read it as "Inspector Gadget demonstrates his utter cluelessness about the dire state of public confidence in the police, thereby confirming Woffle's point..."

Posted by: john b | Jul 3, 2007 4:35:27 PM

Woffle's point being what, exactly...?

I mean, the police weren't rude, intimidating, or refusing to identify themselves. They had a valid reason to ask for access (which he could have refused). They thanked him. They left.

What, exactly, was the problem, other than 'he felt intimidated'? Not something that could be described as a result of the behaviour of these policemen, as described in the encounter. Except for the 'very scruffy plain clothes' of course. Heaven forbid!

I mean, I'm hardly a police apologist, but I can't seem to see where they put a foot wrong here. So why the attack of the vapours?

Tim adds: I think you miss his point. The police didn't do anything wrong at all. But he, as a result of those rather larger cases, simply does not have an instinctive trust of them any more. That, I believe, was his point.

Posted by: JuliaM | Jul 3, 2007 5:22:27 PM

"Tim adds: I think you miss his point."

No, I don't think he has a point at all.

It's quite normal (and often stated by commenters, interviewees, raconteurs) for anyone going through Customs, even with no contraband on them, to feel a little apprehensive of getting pulled, for instance. That's not because of any supposed 'loss of faith' in Customs, for God's sake.

I'd feel a little apprehensive if pulled over while driving; it's completely normal, and existed long before the supposed 'loss of faith' in the police, and will exist long after. I simply wouldn't ascribe it, as this chap does, to some existential crisis in law enforcement.

Posted by: JuliaM | Jul 3, 2007 6:33:33 PM

You take your victim as you find him, and the very fact that the subject felt 'intimidated' is enough to warrant a review of the actions of the police on this occasion.

If you start throwing fisticuffs and find that your victim has an eggshell skull and dies, you can't blame the victim and be excused from the charge of murder.

It is plainly unprofessional that these two burly fellows would arrive at the subject's door with scruffy smelly clothes. It is not considered acceptable to present such an appearance, in any profession. If you look at the United States, the 'feds' are well-known for always being smartly dressed and clean. It inspires no confidence in the police whatsoever, when a member of the public is accosted by two overweight unkempt fellows who look like they've been dragged through the sewer backwards.

Remember, the victim was so appalled and alarmed by their appearance (wouldn't you be too, if you thought they were drunks or junkies?) that he or she felt IN FEAR OR THEIR LIFE. This is important.

Posted by: Opinionated | Jul 3, 2007 6:34:52 PM

It's the cases in the papers, where the police arrest someone who was defending his life, his family, his property, his business; that's what undermines my confidence. Apparently, they're just not on our side.

Posted by: dearieme | Jul 3, 2007 7:14:02 PM

"..the very fact that the subject felt 'intimidated' is enough to warrant a review of the actions of the police on this occasion."

Good grief, the actions as described by the person himself gave no cause for him to feel intimidated whatsoever. This guy needs to grow a pair.

"...the cases in the papers, where the police arrest someone who was defending his life, his family, his property, his business; that's what undermines my confidence."

Actually, me too. That's why I'm not normally a police apologist. But this incident doesn't fit that category.

Posted by: JuliaM | Jul 3, 2007 9:05:58 PM

The point I was making is simply that it doesn't matter whether the victim measures up against some arbitrary standard of robustness - the only thing that matters is that they suffered some kind of harm as a result of the actor's action.

In this case, the harm caused was the feeling that the victim was about to be subjected to the most violent assault possible - a killing. This fear, whether reasonable or not by anyone else's standards, does arise from the fact that two rough-looking fellows came knocking at the door unexpectedly. People in fear for their lives sometimes do very desperate things, which is why it's such a serious matter. Nobody has the right to inflict the fear of imminent death upon anybody else. People have a right to be protected from this type of fear.

I feel that from the facts as we know them in this case (and granted we only know one side of the story) the bad feelings caused by this incident might have been averted if the policemen were in uniform, or else if they were cleaned up and smartly dressed in a suit and tie, so that at least they looked like they belonged in the neighbourhood. A police officer represents the state, and should be smartly and cleanly attired at all times, and in good physical condition.

Posted by: Opinionated | Jul 3, 2007 9:49:33 PM

"..the bad feelings caused by this incident might have been averted if the policemen were in uniform.."

No, this hysterical ninny reacts to the fact that they are policemen, whch they immediately announce to him over the intercom.

The comment about the dress comes later, but before he even sees them, he's having an attack of the vapours.

Posted by: JuliaM | Jul 4, 2007 5:27:17 AM

While visiting the homeland with the kids (Indiana USA) I read a story about the local vice squad battering down the door of a suspects house, rousting the family and pulling a teenage girl out of the shower, obviously naked and dripping wet and pinning her the floor of the bathroom. Luckily, before any shots were fired or anyone killed, the police realized that they had the wrong address.

I have never lived there but I would hazard a guess that GB has a long way to go till they reach the level by which the rights of the US citizen are being trampled upon in the name of the WAR ON TERROR and the even more nonsensical WAR ON DRUGS.

Posted by: david | Jul 4, 2007 9:11:50 AM

"No, this hysterical ninny reacts to the fact that they are policemen, whch they immediately announce to him over the intercom."

You're missing the point totally.

On hearing "open up it's the police" over the intercom, a law-abiding citizen would traditionally have thought "I wonder what that's about, I'll let them in". Now, a law abiding citizen is jumping to the conclusion "f--k, they're going to shoot me or fit me up" instead. This is not just one paranoid ninny; it's representative of a wider distrust.

(you know full well about the Ore case - one obvious thought as an innocent person buzzed by the police early in the morning would be 'is some criminally incompetent joke of a CID inspector going to fit me up as a nonce for having my credit card stolen?')

Possibly, if the police fitted up, shot, and generally screwed over fewer law-abidng people, then law-abiding people would be more willing to trust them.

Posted by: john b | Jul 4, 2007 2:04:59 PM

"You're missing the point totally."

As I've said above, I dn't think this guy has a point.

"Now, a law abiding citizen is jumping to the conclusion..."

Just this one. One swallow does not make a summer....

"..you know full well about the Ore case.."

Relevance...? I know about the Jean Charles De Menezes case too, I don't therefore go in fear of getting on the Tube & falling victim to a hail of bullets!

Perspective, please, gentlemen.

Posted by: JuliaM | Jul 4, 2007 2:46:29 PM

Guys... yes, there was a serious point in that last paragraph, but I was going for tongue-in-cheek whimsical, not Big Brother paranoia. I wasn't 'intimidated', I don't have a problem with helping the police and I really didn't care that they were dressed 'scruffily' (though the surgical gloves, while obviously to avoid contaminating evidence, were a bit freaky).

But tell me honestly, do you trust the police as much as you did two years ago? Really? I don't agree with the comment about it being natural to feel apprehensive when you get pulled over. If you haven't done anything wrong, you should have nothing to fear.

Posted by: Woffle | Jul 4, 2007 10:25:03 PM