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Wednesday, October 06, 2004
Reflections on the Conservative Party Conference

Today, at the Con Party conference, David Davis advanced the old ill thought out lines about having more prisons, tougher sentences, and more policemen. Not a word do we hear about the quality of the police. You can read the speech in full, here. Perhaps, though, before you do that, you should read these other items.

Last November, a woman was shot dead by her estranged husband despite having earlier called urgently for the police. They did not arrive for nearly forty minutes and they did not enter the house for another five hours although they had been assured that the gunman had long since fled. It is quite possible that prompter action would have saved one or two lives - there were two critically injured women in the house. A recent inquest report begins:
The family of a mother and son shot dead by the woman's estranged husband yesterday claimed police failed to offer her adequate protection even after she expressed fears that he would kill her.
You can read the report on the inquest here. Right from the start, it’s obvious that our friends in blue weren’t properly on the case.

Today, the police have reported on their reaction to the events of that tragic November 18th. Basically, they say: ‘Oops’. Have heads rolled? Bloody hell, no. Here's a more detailed explanation of that 'Oops', including a police apology.

Here is another story dredged from Josh’s joshings, dated 31 August 2002:
Several years ago, a musician left his car outside his house for half an hour. In it were several valuable and unusual instruments. When he came out, the car had been broken into and the instruments were gone. Naturally, he informed the police, giving them detailed descriptions of what was missing.

Several days later, while serving in his own music shop on the other side of town, a youth brought in one of his instruments, wanting cash for it. Containing his elation, the man told the youth that, because the instrument was so unusual, he would have to make one or two enquiries before he could suggest a price. He asked for, and was given, the youth's phone number.

As soon as the youth had left the shop, the man telephoned the police and described the incident. Of course, he told them the phone number. Beside himself with pleasure, the man awaited events, knowing that he was, with one stroke, about to get back his cherished instruments while helping to bring a criminal to justice.

He waited a day, two days, three days...a whole week. Unable to wait any longer, the man rang the police to ask what had happened. Perhaps they were too busy to have notified him of the outcome, he supposed. What do you think had happened?

The answer is nothing – they had ‘forgotten’. When they did, immediately now, raid the youth's address, they found nothing.

Whenever I hear calls for more police, I remember this story. I also remember a school reunion I attended where, it turned out, most of the least intelligent boys had become policemen. They had all risen to very senior positions, too. It's about time cries for more police were also attended by provisos about the right calibre of police.
I understand that cardboard cut-outs of policemen were used as a crime deterrent in France, some years ago. If, instead of saying that the Cons would employ 40,000 more police, David Davis could, with advantage have suggested ‘employing’ 40,000 cardboard cut-outs: they’d be no less effective and a lot cheaper. Isn’t saving tax-payers’ money a central plank of Con thinking? Hypocrites!

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