Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Chris Huhne on the culture of policing

Writing on Lib Dem Voice, Stephen Tall has noticed a point that I have made before. When Nick Clegg promises to scrap ID cuts he says that the money will be used to cut taxes. But when Chris Huhne promises to scrap ID cuts he says that the money will be used to put more bobbies on the beat.

I raised this point with Chris Huhne when I interviewed him earlier this year, saying it was hard to believe we are an underpoliced society when you are at Westminster. There every doorway seems to harbour two armed officers.

Chris's reply was that, if you make international comparisons, then Britain does have too few police. I was struck by his observation that when the police patrol in pairs they tend to talk to each other rather than to the public.

This need to change the culture of policing is at the heart of the case for having more police officers. Stephen assumes that anyone making this call must hold the view that more police employed will mean more criminals caught and punished. But those who disagree with his view need not be as simplistic as he assumes.

The culture of policing was in everyone's mind when I spoke to Chris. We met just after the death of Ian Tomlinson at the G20 demonstration.

As Chris said, there are concerns that the Met's Territorial Support Group has inherited some of the DNA of the old Special Patrol Group.


HE Elsom said...

s/two few police/too few police/

Probably interference from "pairs" in the next sentence.

Jonathan Calder said...


What would I do without you?

HE Elsom said...

Notice them yourself? Still, all those years of textual criticism weren't entirely in vain.