Category Archives: policing (weak)

British policing in the old days

A policeman who was taking early retirement said to Dalrymple:

In the old days, we was nice to the nice people, and we was nasty to the nasty people.

The policeman told Dalrymple that

now that the police were professionally obliged to be nice to everyone, he could no longer stand the work. The strain of exercising no discretion was too great.

A frivolous, hopeless wreck of a police force

Nero’s fiddling was effective firefighting by comparison

Britain has by far the highest rate of violent crime in Western Europe, about five or six times that of Spain, for example. What is the response of the British police?

Dalrymple writes that it is a fact of modern British life that

as the police appear more and more to resemble the paramilitary force of an authoritarian régime or military dictatorship, they become less and less effectual, whom only the law-abiding fear.

They seem to concentrate ever less on real police work, and

engage in parallel pseudo-activities, such as commiserating with the victims of the crimes they have failed to prevent and in the vast majority of cases make no attempt to solve.

He notes that a break-in during which an elderly person is murdered, for example,

is increasingly apt to be described as ‘a burglary that went tragically wrong’.

The British police love to

waste their time on the pseudo-pastoral care of those whom I suppose we must now call their clients.

Their primary object appears to be

work avoidance through work creation, a seemingly frantic activity — while never having to do anything that actually conduces to any conceivable end other than early retirement on the grounds of ill-health through stress.

This is a world

that is forever developing training packages, building and delivering capacity, etc., while actually doing nothing. Nero’s fiddling, by comparison, was effective firefighting – evidence-based, of course. It is always time for thinking outside the box, ringfencing a safe space for blue-skies thinking.

A reliable and trustworthy police force is not a denial of freedom but a precondition of its exercise

This ‘all coppers are bastards’ view of the police has spread, Dalrymple observes,

to a large section of the bourgeois intellectual class. Not long ago a journalist told me, en passant, that he hated the police. I asked why: had they falsely arrested, unjustifiably manhandled, brutally interrogated him? No, he replied: he had no personal reason; he just hated them for what they were. Well, as Lear said, nothing comes of nothing: and the journalist’s hatred of the police was unlikely to have sprung completely at random and fully formed from his consciousness. I suspected, as is so often the case with opinions lightly adopted but firmly held, that this one was forged from a combination of ignorance, dishonesty, and fashion. By expressing a dislike of the police, a bourgeois intellectual is establishing his solidarity with the poor.

But the bourgeois intellectual

needs to find reasons for his opinions: rationalisation is his métier. And it isn’t difficult for him to think up such reasons with regard to the police. Their function is to defend the social order: and since the social order is widely held to be responsible for the poverty of the poor, it follows that the police are in part responsible for that poverty. They are a part of the social injustice system.

This pretence, that the police are

but the executive arm of a hypocritical bourgeoisie determined to preserve its ill-gotten gains at the expense of the poor,


terrifyingly shallow when tested against the experience of people who suffer weak policing.

Dalrymple points out that the idea that a juster social order would render the police redundant is

utopian nonsense.