The Curmudgeon


Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Not a Service, But a Force

Her Majesty's Loyal Opposition has proposed that house arrest should be extended from terror suspects to teenagers; although Chris Graybeing, who replaced David Davis as shadow secretary for Snoopery and Incarceration when Davis undertook his bizarre publicity stunt last June, has at least specified a time limit for the detention. He does not seem to have specified whether the detention would be enforced by electronic tagging, by stationing a policeman at the teenager's bedroom door, or by preventing one or other of the parents from going out to work; but then Daveybloke's Cuddly Conservatives have never really been detaily sorts of chaps. In his first significant squeak to the Local Government Association in London, Graybeing reduced a complicated social problem to "a simple fact in the lives of many young people"; namely that "there is nobody who really says no to them. So the misdemeanours of youth go unpunished. And so they get away with it, and do it again, and again", rather like David Blunkett.

With similar analytic brilliance, Daveybloke himself observed that, over the decade which has seen the introduction of the national database, ID cards, detention without trial, control orders, a vast swathe of custodial offences and the right of the Metropolitan Police to kill innocent people with impunity, "we have seen that vital single-minded focus on crime-fighting disastrously diluted, so the Home Office and the police too often see themselves as some kind of social service". Are the police and Home Office meant to be of service to society? "No. They are not a social service. They are a force. And with a Conservative government I want them to be a force to be respected and reckoned with. They are there to fight crime. That's it," concluded Daveybloke, in fine non-nasty-party form. Other proposals by Gordon's coalition partners include "a change in licensing laws to end 24-hour drinking", presumably by stationing a policeman outside every fridge in the country; "tougher sentences for 'serious offences'", which is something New New Labour evidently haven't thought of yet; and everybody's favourite, "putting more police on the streets".


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