As we slip into 2013, a triple-dip recession, the probable loss of our triple A credit rating, and the prospect of societal disruption ‘up north’, what more can go wrong? If it eventually comes down to civil unrest then our glorious government can enable the police to take over and restore order. Yet the nation’s ‘Peelers’ have been at odds with the incumbent shower of political twats for some time. The apparent need for severe budget cuts by the ‘Nasty Party’, caused mainly by damn socialists (and definitely not those pillars of society, the bankers), means the Police have to bite their own bullets and downsize. New Scotland Yard, which once reverberated to the drum of John Thaw and Denis Waterman, is to be flogged off to the highest bidder. No, not bungs from the News of The World, but other rich men. Perhaps Arab investors, who will gobble up the nation’s capital real estate. And the sell off doesn’t end there. Sixty-five police stations across London are also set for the chop. This clever idea follows research into crime reporting at the station front desks. In some boroughs this is apparently down to just fifty crimes a night. After all, who in their right mind wants to go down the nearest plod shop on a cold, rainy evening to report a crime? Instead, you’ll inevitably call one of the alternative numbers for the police (don’t bother with 999, not unless it’s a murder)
then wait for bugger all to happen in the privacy of your own home.
The prospect of station closures is nothing new. Dorset Police and their new crime commissioner are way ahead of the game here, having
closed Swanage plod-shop and moved its operation to a small desk in the town hall. Dorset plod call their scheme ‘Pathway’, which is not
to be confused with the ‘Liverpool Pathway’. But there is a similar outcome, in terms of frightening old people who complain too much.
Anyway, back to the Met, who are facing a five hundred million wonga cut to their budget. The fiendishly clever plan is to put 2,600 more coppers into London borough neighborhood teams, and further boost numbers with 1,200 from the defunct Scotland Yard. Of this 1,200, two-thirds will be detectives from specialist squads including burglary, put back in uniform to pound the streets. That’s going to piss a few of them off, so expect more anonymous emails regarding ministerial conduct, coming soon. But who’s going to detect the crime, I hear you ask, if the police are all busily falsifying their logs?
The cunning plan is to hand investigative powers to neighborhood coppers for low-level crime. Each borough will be headed by a Sheriff (I, for one,
can’t wait to see this roll out to Nottingham) supported by PCSOs (pretend coppers), Special Constables (wannabe coppers) and Detectives (soon
to be pounding-the-beat-in-uniform coppers). Simon Byrne, the Assistant Met Commissioner who won’t be swopping his braided hat for a pointy
one, described detectives as “constables in jeans and T-shirts”, although there will probably be more apt descriptions from the residents of Tower
Hamlets. Mr. Byrne (right) went on to say that he wants to end the division between plods on the beat and the likes of Jack Regan.
Not being one to miss an opportunity, Boris got in on the act, his office looking to increase public confidence in the Met, from 62% to 75%. Oh,
and a reduction in crime would help, of course.
Byrne went on to add, “I will hold my Sheriffs to account for crime reduction and the number of people brought to book”. In other words; setting targets for detection while watering down the means results in fewer crimes detected, with a corresponding increase in miscarriages of justice. Expect increased arrests for any minor infraction, as coppers make up the numbers to reach their targets, now that selling info to the press is no longer viable as an alternative income. As for untrained investigators, I wouldn’t trust my local PCSO or Special Constable to park my bike, let alone look for it once the thing gets stolen. As the Met cuts a further 1,500 staff and reduces the number of senior officers from 37 to 26, perhaps it’s time to look at some of the reasons why the government feels the need to take harsh measures in the first place.
If your average plod on the beat retires after 30 years at 50, he or she is entitled to a lump sum of about 125,000 wongas and an annual pension income of about 19,000 wongas. This is equivalent to a pension pot worth more than 500,000 wongas. Yes, that’s half a million wongas for every beat copper, eking out his time and retiring at just 50. And this is just the tip of a very expensive iceberg. A Chief Constable gets about 7.5 taxpayer wongas for every wonga he puts in the pension scheme, and he can expect to retire with a lump sum of about 500,000 wongas and 75,000 wongas annual pension, which is the equivalent to a pension pot of about two million wongas. That’s a lot of wonga wasted, money that could otherwise go on tax relief for impoverished millionaires, or help some old Etonian down
Apart from blaming the last shower or using the global credit crunch as a handy diversion while employing sly, politically-motivated, social
engineering, the Nasty Party needs the economy to facilitate tax breaks for their wealthy mates. The surest way to do this is to reduce
state outgoings on the lower orders. We’ve seen child benefit for the middle classes cut and a new, up-rating benefits bill put forward,
destroying the lives of women and the working poor. Health-care is going private, as is education, and no doubt pensioners will be next for
the chop. But these are the easy options. All you have to do here is set one side against the other; private against public, working poor
against just plain poor, employed against retired, or everyone against the workshy shirkers (otherwise known as jobless scum).
But the police? Who can you set them against? Demonizing officers of the law to the general public is a very dangerous move, particularly considering the very real prospect of civil unrest on the horizon. Meanwhile setting law-enforcers against criminals is a non-starter. Some of the former are actually more corrupt. So, considering a full-blown attack on police pensions is out of the question (at least, until the troops return from Afghanistan and install Olympic marshal law again), the government
has to adopt a softly, softly approach. But worry not everyone; where there’s a political will, there's an underhand way. So time to roll out a plan that closes metropolitan police stations, stick coppers in Post Offices, the few libraries that remain and Tesco, like some kind of helmeted, scratchcard-peddling Citizen’s Advice Bureau. Then downgrade detectives to beat plods, give special constables and PCSOs power of investigation, offer coppers compulsory part-time hours and the scene is set. You’ve made a fortune selling off the real estate while simultaneously reducing their wage bill.
Crime commissioners are already on board, installing their unelected political chums to positions of authority within the police.
Privatisation has had its foot in the door for some time, while the takeover of the probation service is next on the agenda. Dumbing
down police capability seems another logical step.
But beware the reduction in copper numbers. Flogging off their stations under the guise of saving money and sneaking in
privatisation can have disastrous effects on morale. If civil unrest does occur, worrying about some rogue cop posting
emails after a Downing Street spat over cycling will be the least of the Nasty Party’s worries. Politicizing the Police was
never a good idea, they just might bite the hand that feeds them.