Monday, 28 June 2010

Police in the news

This is Cornwall reports that Devon and Cornwall Police are to go on a charm offensive having seen their customer satisfaction ratings slip over the past year.

My own impression is that our Police locally are doing a pretty good job. Whilst crime rates here are, thankfully, very low, the major task the Police face, in addition to investigating the crimes that do happen, is to make sure the public is aware that they are very unlikely to be a victim of crime.

Also in the news is opposition from Devon and Cornwall Police Authority to the Conservative plan for directly elected Police Commissioners. Our local Police Authority - made up of a majority of councillors from across Devon and Cornwall but with independent members and magistrates as well - is fairly well regarded.

I fail to see how creating a single Police Commissioner would help. It will clearly be a political post (whether or not that is party political) and I suspect that elections, and the priorities of the winner, will be dominated by relatively scarce but high profile crime. The Police themselves will lose the ability to prioritise those areas they think they can do the most good in and will see resources moved about for political, rather than operational, ends.

Thankfully, however, we don't live in London where Police officers have again given the appearance of being above the law in their detention of a young photojournalist. The video below (actually a sound recording with some pictures attached) is a great example of how the Police should not be working. See some of my earlier posts on the lack of response from the Police when I lived in London.

Just for clarification, it is not against the law to take pictures of people in a public place for editorial (ie journalism) reasons. That includes children, the armed forces or the Police themselves. What's more, after numerous incidents of wrongful detention and heavy handed policing in the past, all Met Police officers have supposedly been briefed on what is and is not allowed. I'm very glad that in this particular case they are investigating.

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