Somewhere Under the Skies of Wessex

Defund the Police?

Did you know that the forerunners of the modern day police in Britain were the Bow Street Runners? They were formed by Magistrate Henry Fielding in 1749 and worked for him from his office at Bow Street Magistrates Court. Their role was to serve writs and arrest offenders as authorised by the Magistrates.

At that time, and elsewhere around the country, enforcement of the law was in the hands of elected unpaid parish constables. In addition, members of the public could pay thief takers to catch criminals and bring them before the Magistrates. There was very little Government involvement in law enforcement, and the apprehension of criminals was often left to private citizens.

My question in writing this article is have we come full circle? Is the apprehension of criminals again being left to those who have been the victims of crime?

A friend's workshop was recently broken into and about £50,000 worth of equipment stolen. Eleven adjoining businesses were also ransacked. The matter was reported to the local Constabulary, but they have not investigated, and it has been left to my friend to check with other local businesses and establish if there were any witnesses to the incident or if it was caught on their CCTV.

My friend's situation is by no means unique. Almost daily one hears stories of police disinterest when it comes to investigating crime, and yet they always seem to have the time to dance at Pride events, paint patrol cars the colours of the rainbow, and harass people who have the temerity to express their opinion online.

So I have to ask, what is the point of the police? If they are no longer doing the job they are paid to do, what useful purpose do they serve? One of the Peelian Principles of policing states;

To recognise always that the power of the police to fulfil their functions and duties is dependent on public approval of their existence, actions and behaviour, and on their ability to secure and maintain public respect.

I do not know of a time when the existence, actions and behaviours of the police have ever been questioned as they are today. However it is becoming ever more apparent that they have lost the respect of the public, and I believe the time has come for a complete overhaul. They need reminding that it is us, the public, they serve. I am not proposing that the police should be defunded, but the current force should be completely dismantled and rebuilt from the ground up in accordance with the original Peelian Principles. I want to see bobbies back on the beat, local police stations reopened, and the re-establishment of closer connections with those communities they are supposed to be serving.

#journal #society #police