Before anyone attempts the straw-man that I must've grown up in some leafy little hamlet drinking scrumpy with my public-school friends this is one such image of my old stamping grounds:
The old stony castle-looking building is of course...Armley Prison. As a rule the estate next door to it houses most of the occupants immeadiate family. Nice.
What I'm driving at is that there are problems, and yes sometimes they can be bad.
What is wrong with you people?
Advertising the police?
Advertising to criminals as to what you would like to them?
Adwelly over at the Libertarian Party blog posted on seeing one of these adverts only last Sunday; I've since seen them everywhere I go - the back of buses, shelters, big advert boards...I know that the advertising industry is suffering in this downturn but seriously this?
Thats not even beginning to scratch the surface of how threatening this sounds, or how it steamroles over age old liberties in its prose; how are you going to stop us remaining silent, Mr. Policeman? Exactly how thorough will this talking to be? Will I have a lawyer present and be out of jail within the month before charging me or even telling me what I'm suspected of doing?
This is an over-reaction; I am not angry at the police and would find it very surprising if they themselves were particularly fond of this advert, or the policing "pledge" that goes with it - they probably think, as most of us do, that there would be no need to "promise" anything if only we could do our jobs with discretion, not record every little incident for fear of being sued or missing your targets or (rarely) missing some vital clue in crime prevention, instead this will only push the stigma that the police are not here for our protection; they are here to protect their political master ambitions.
How to stop this? firstly get rid of ACPO; it is a private institution that has been sucking at the taxpayer teat for too long. The best (and fairest) way of achieving this is to give a people a democratic say in who runs their police force; a police chief, or sheriff, chosen by the people he serves will be more receptive to their needs and less interested in Whitehall diktat. While were at it, make the local judiciary democratically accountable. In order to stop them being unequally yoked of course you would have to abolish targets for the police en masse; working in chemical distribution we have to strike up a balance of what we buy in to sell to our customers - we do this, not by top-down diktat, but by asking the customer what they want. The minute a police chief stops doing this when democratically elected is the minute recall votes start calling for there removal. Publish all criminal reports online minus names of suspect and arresting officers; use codes to relate to criminal cases so that complaints from police harassment can be dealt with in the public sphere if any of the involved peoples wants to bring it to that. Lastly fold social services into the police force, making it an arm of the law; in that most personal and destructive area of civic life, when children come into the equation, is it really wise to have several institutions all with overlapping aims, but no overall control or no person(s) directly responsible? Libertarians believe in that life, liberty and property are sacrosanct and that we form instutions to help protect these free aspects of our liberty; infringing on the rights of the vulnerable who cannot adequately exercise there rights should be a criminal matter for the police & judges we put in place, not a social one.
No police force will be perfect; I envisage the election of heads of our police force with powers to rearrange, fire and hire anyone they see fit to in their duties. This could include a deputised member of the child-services arm, their policing force being specialised to deal with social matters but with powers of arrest, balanced against accountability from the top down, the top being the public at large.
You would also have no need of ACPO (at least not in its present guise as an unelected, undemocratic, QUANGO.
We dont need pledges of action. We need action.
One of the most beautiful aspects of the Peelian principles, written in part and in spirit of the policing founder, Robert Peel, is that they rationally flow from the base understanding that we are all free men and that the police can only achieve their job effectively when they work towards these principles. Lets hope that people remember that in the coming months when this pledge tanks, ideas like these come to the fore and real change starts happening.
Alternatively, vote for a party that is the embodiement of this kind of liberty.