L'Ombre de l'Olivier

The Shadow of the Olive Tree

being the maunderings of an Englishman on the Côte d'Azur

02 August 2007 Blog Home : August 2007 : Permalink

Why We Don't Like Cops

Boris Johnson may or may not be an effective manager or a good politician but he has a way of stating things that many people agree with. Perhaps I'm in the minority but it seemed to me that tactless or not when he "insulted" scousers he was saying publicly exactly what many Southern English folk think.Today he writes about his bike being nicked and he concludes with three paragraphs that ought to worry anyone who thinks that the working/middle classes automatically support the police and respect the law:

Suppose they were to find a 15-year-old in possession of my Marin Sausalito, or a roomful of Marin Sausalitos. What could the perp expect? A caution? A stiff talking-to? Some unenforceable ASBO? The double-standards are unbearable, because we all know perfectly law-abiding citizens who have allowed their offside front wheel to stray an inch outside the white line of the residents' parking bay and boom!

Their car is towed away by the state, and they can end up paying hundreds of pounds to get it back. But when a thief nicks your bicycle, the state just seems to shrug its shoulders and advise you to get more locks. Wouldn't it be wonderful if we could change the odds, and wipe the confident smirk off the faces of these varmints? Isn't it time we investigated the uses of new cheap tracking technology, to fill these thieves with the terror of getting caught? Wouldn't it be fine to hunt down the middlemen - often drug-dealers - who encourage kids to go on their nicking sprees?

It would be a huge advance for civility and decency on the streets, because little crimes lead to greater crimes, and if you can casually smash a railing to steal a bike, then you are well on the way to burglary and worse. Decoy bikes will be part of the answer; but the first step is to recondition society to grasp this elementary fact, that the problem is not caused by bad locks or weak railings. It's caused by thieves, and they need to be deterred.

Thanks to human rights lawyers, ill thought out legislation and bureaucratic empire buiding law enforcement in the UK has seen its priorities shift from stopping thefts to stopping "hate crimes". This is not purely a "New Labour" problem, the rot started under the Tories but it has, it seems to me, got much worse over the last decade and, as one of the commenters says, the average copper on the beat is just as frustrated with the situation as the general public is.

There will, I suspect, come a time when people will start taking the law into their own hands and administering vigilante punshments that contravene about 1001 human rights regulations and which would be frowned upon in Guantanamo. They may well end up having the local police on their side too, not to mention juries if, for some reason, they end up in court. I don't see any other solution because I am positive that no government will dare reintroduce the sorts of punishments that are likely to deter petty thieves and vandals, such as corporal punishment or, in the cases of such minor property theft, requiring the criminal to replace the property stolen.