Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Souped-up ASBOs to tackle kings of organised crime gangs - Britain - Times Online

This is another signature "initiative" from this most pointless of governments. Everything that "gangsters" do is already illegal. If caught and convicted, there are laws enough to keep them in jail for as long as the government's sentencing guidelines allow.

We are not suffering from a shortage of laws. On the contrary, we have thousands too many. We are suffering from a failure of enforcement. This government makes new laws not to solve problems, but to suggest that every problem we have is due to defects in the law and not to the failure of the law enforcement agencies for which it is responsible.

What a shame Britain's academics are mostly left-wing. If a Conservative government were indulging in such legislatory masturbation, there would be studies galore to demonstrate its futility. I am prepared to gamble GBP500 with the first professor of criminology to take the bet that, if he embarks on a study of the hundreds of new crimes created by this government, they will prove to have had no measurable impact on the targeted behaviours. Many of them have not even been used; i.e. no prosecutions have been brought.

This government has passed more Criminal Justice Acts than in all our previous history. Each new such Act is now no more than a confession of the failure of the others.

How much better would it be to declare a legislative "freeze" to allow our police forces to catch up with their workload? How much better would it be to relieve trained police officers of the bureaucratic burdens imposed by the Home Office, designed to turn them into collectors of statistics rather than feelers of wicked collars? How much better would it be for the Home Office to help police forces recover the relationship they used to have with the public? There's a worthy task with which degraded spin doctors could redeem themselves.

The only policing that works (accepting that no policing works perfectly) is "policing by consent." The public used willingly to cooperate with policemen they saw as their protectors and servants. Now they see them as tax-collectors, bullies and agents of Class War.

I have made a couple of citizen's arrests in my time. I would not make one now, because I fear the police would be more interested in a soft target like me than any hard case I might bring them. I would end up being charged with assault, while the villain would walk.

In today's Britain, even the respectable middle class fear contact with a police force widely perceived to be politicised. If the 80% of the time of a front-line police officer that PC David Copperfield over at the Policeman's Blog estimates is wasted could be reduced to civilised levels, police officers could spend enough time with the public to win back their trust. On his blog recently, PC Copperfield said "Somebody told me the other day that if no member of the public ever called Newtown police ever again, our internal procedures would keep us so busy we wouldn'’t notice for another six months." I believe it.

Nothing in this government's record suggests that it gives a damn about the standing of any force in our society but the Labour Party. Now that its policies are failing even to promote that, perhaps Ministers on the way out might look to their legacy and try to do some actual good, instead of focussing entirely on pointless spin?

Souped-up ASBOs to tackle kings of organised crime gangs - Britain - Times Online

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