One man’s view on what’s gone wrong

Recreational violence: Police need to have control
Recreational violence: Police need to have control
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a CHUM (let’s refer to him as Wise Counsellor) was walking back from the shop with a pint of milk at around 10pm.

As he came to a crossing point four youths, aged 14 or 15, blocked the road.

He walked round them, but reluctantly.

WC: “They were wearing f*** you expressions. I know the police can’t be everywhere but these four lads had already, in their small way, realised that the state no longer has unquestioned control of the streets.”

PL: “There’s a lot of it about.”

WC: “More than you think. That attitude is exactly what is behind the riots we have seen around the country.”

PL: “Come now. That’s stretching it. Isn’t it through lack of opportunities?”

WC: “Not at all. The riots have nothing to do with race relations and deprived sectors of society. Or police executing a poor innocent man. Or the cuts. Or unemployment,” by this time he was in his stride.

WC: “And the police response is nothing to do with police numbers but has everything to do with modern, senior police officering.”

PL: “How do you mean?”

WC: “These days top police commanders are almost indistinguishable in their terminology and outlook from community workers. The result? There is such operational softness when dealing with clusters of youths ‘hanging out’, such fear of causing offence that British police in 2011 have all but surrendered control of the streets.”

PL: “It’s a difficult job they face, don’t you agree? They have to be careful not to inflame the situation.”

WC: “That is just the problem. They are too careful trying not to offend. And it is deliberate. Surrendering the streets is the most decisive shift in policing in this country in recent years. It’s fundamental. No society can effectively function if the state does not effectively have a monopoly on physical control. In simple terms, the police must have unquestioned control of the streets. It doesn’t have to be intrusive but it has to be unquestioned. In any society that wants order there can be only one outfit in charge of the streets. The police must have a monopoly of physical control. All else is anarchy and lawlessness.”

PL: “But isn’t that just totalitarian?”

WC: “No. It’s a return to fundamental values in policing. Those charged by the overwhelming number of the population to enforce unquestioned control of the streets have become so politicised (small p) that they don’t even know what it is they’re not doing. Talk to old-time coppers, retired ones., or many younger officers who aren’t fast-track promoted via the graduate entry schemes with loads of spaghetti on their hats.

“That’s right, talk to the officers who have to clear up after the party. There’s a big gulf between today’s most senior coppers and their predecessors and/or the lads and lasses on the beat.”

PL: “But it’s a modern world.”

WC: “And not one which is for the better. Have you noticed that most police outfits have dropped the word ‘force’ from their title? They are police services.

“This goes to the heart of the matter and symbolises what’s gone wrong. Folk want force from their police. It means they are in charge, have a monopoly of the physical force which controls the streets.

“Service? That’s for chamber maids and butlers!”