Sunday, 14 August 2011

So why won't our police take advice?


I was struck by the incredible arrogance of Sir Hugh Orde:

"What I suggested to the home secretary is a more sensible approach, maybe to look across far wider styles of policing and - more usefully - at European styles; they, like us, are bound by the European Convention.

"My sense is, when we've done that, we will find the British model is probably the top."

 Rapidly followed by the ranks - lining up to say that, of course, the police weren't too "timid" and that standing watching while the looting goes on is normal police tactics. And, more to the point, I suspect the British public rather agree with Bill Bratten - and with his disciple, Middlesbrough mayor, Ray Mallon, who said of the riots:

We must not be caught flat-footed again and must master the weapons of our enemies. We won’t do that with water cannon and rubber bullets. But we must give frontline professionals freedom to police effectively, without fear or favour to anyone, or section, of the community.

They cannot do that with a pair of handcuffs marked “political correctness” around their wrists. They need to know we expect them to police proactively.

Because we have seen the depolicing of our streets. Day by day we ­surrendered territory to wreckers. We let them win little victories and must now fight a battle. We can, and must, win back the streets.

Personally, I'm unsure as to whether US-style policing is either a good thing or effective. But I do think we should listen to the man who, almost single-handedly, transformed the approach to law enforcement in two of America's toughest cities. Not to do so would be the height of arrogance and complacency - an indication, in my view, that Sir Hugh Orde is not suited at all to be Britain's 'top cop'.


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