Monday, 20 November 2006


Nowhere in Sir Robert Peel’s nine principles for the effective and ethical conduct of the police does it state that the police should try to alter the public’s perception of crime and disorder. In one’s old-fashioned and thoroughly outdated head, one could be forgiven for believing that such an attempt ought not to be within the remit of any institution of the state. But one would reckon without the progress of the modern world, wherein such nineteenth-century concerns have no place. One hears, for instance, that Essex Police have initiated a “Proactive Essex Police Youth Strategy (Pepys)”, a programme of media-training for young criminals which “would help to tackle ‘misperceptions’ among adults about young people and anti-social behaviour” and “improve the public’s perception” thereof [1].
.....One can imagine that the chief-constables and commissioners of this land read the Peelian principles aloud to one another over drinks, and snigger at their quaint, old-world charm.
.....“Listen to this, Clive. It says here that The test of police efficiency is the absence of crime and disorder, not the visible evidence of police action in dealing with it.”
…..“And I can’t find the word ‘proactive’ anywhere.”
…..“What about ‘strategic partnership’?”
…..“Not a trace.”
…..“My God! One can’t run an efficient, twenty-first-century police force without using the words ‘proactive’ or ‘strategic partnership’. Surely he stresses the importance of acronyms?”
…..“Sadly not. Just bangs on about the basic mission of the police’s being the prevention of crime and disorder, and how we’re not meant to usurp the powers of the judiciary.”
…..“Heh-heh. Another brandy?”
…..“It’d be a crime not to.”

[1] Ben Leapman, “Police give teenage tearaways lessons in handling the media”, The Sunday Telegraph, 19th November 2006.


James Higham said...

Sadly, this is all oh so true. Is the simplicity of Peel simply idealistic nostalgia?

niconoclast said...

The invasion of the Bobby snatchers is complete. They are now Thought Police (and PC doesn't stand for police constable)

Sky Captain said...

They won't protect peace of mind anymore.
And when that happens civilisation is destroyed.

Bill Haydon said...

Well, in the past, these youths would go to places where they could tackle their own "misperceptions" about the law as it stood, and their attitudes to other people: namely, borstals.
That might be appropriate for criminals, rather than getting people to agree that they are being bigoted for not wanting to be mugged.

"You see Mr Smith, it's you what has the problem. That youth found your window a temptation he could not, in his poverty-stricken state, be possibly expected to resist. 'e also, being of only 16 years of age is a member of a victim group - ie criminals. How can 'e live with the stigma of people's misperceptions that he is a scumbag? It is bound to drive 'im to, er, crime. Furthermore, 'e is too young to understand that breakin' and enterin' is regarded by some in the housholdin' community as bein' offensive. 'ere - I do believe you 'ave in fact committed a hate crime by reporting this robbry, will you come wiv me please? I 'ave a flight of stairs waitin' for you to fall down it."