Sunday, 18 July 2010

‘Operation Blowtorch’ and bad police priorities

HOW ON EARTH CAN A MONSTER LIKE MOAT BE HAILED A HERO? frothed Simon Heffer in the Daily Telegraph (14 July), before answering his own question (‘Growing hostility towards the police lies at the heart of a mindless reaction to his death’).

To explain why a large proportion of the British public appear to dislike the police Heffer then came up with that old chestnut of the car supremacist media:

The police are exceptionally good at catching people who commit minor motoring offences.

This is total fantasy. Traffic police numbers have been massively reduced across Britain over the past 20 years. In London up to one driver in eight is uninsured. If the police are so good at catching lawless drivers why then are the roads full of people driving around steering with one hand while talking on a handheld mobile phone? In reality the only two spheres where offending drivers are likely to be caught are for parking offences, which are no longer enforced by the police, and by speed cameras. A vast range of other more serious offences are committed every day, to the complete indifference of the Association of Chief Police Officers.

Far from being enthusiastic about cracking down on minor motoring offences, British policing is institutionally hostile to road traffic law enforcement, and indulges the very worst kind of driver as much as it is indifferent to so-called ‘minor’ offences. Policing priorities are obsessed with so-called ‘car crime’ (i.e. damage to vehicles or theft of vehicles). As we know from the black cab rapist case, in some parts of London ‘car crime’ is regarded as a far more important priority than investigating rape. London policing is run by car supremacist men, and those at the top enjoy a chauffeur-driven lifestyle which shields them from the dangers they impose on ordinary Londoners. Here is an example of a very bad police priority, from the Waltham Forest Guardian, July 8:

Chief Inspector Forbes is scandalised that when it comes to motorists filling up their cars with petrol then driving off without paying there are ‘an average of 10 offences occurring in east London every day’. The definition of east London involves a total of five London boroughs. So that’s just two offences a day for each borough. In the first place garages these days have CCTV, so it's hard to tell what the problem is. Could it be that the motorists who commit these offences are untraceable through their numberplates? The crime in itself is trivial and inconsequential compared to the staggering amounts of very visible crime committed by motorists, to the complete indifference of the Metropolitan Police. If Chief Inspector Forbes cares to stand at any signalled junction he’ll have no difficulty witnessing crimes at the scale of at least one a minute.

Leaving aside crimes like jumping red lights, driving into Advanced Stop Lines, or driving while using a mobile phone, at red, what about blue badge fraud? The Council loses spectacular amounts of money through the fraudulent use of blue badges, but both the Council and the police encourage this form of theft by ignoring it altogether. Blue badge fraudsters in Waltham Forest are in paradise, because no one ever pounces to catch the fraudsters. Which is why you see able-bodied youths jumping out of flash cars on yellow lines and jeering at parking attendants, why numerous businesses including builders and gardeners operate with blue badges, and why market traders with blue badges can been seen unloading the goods for their stalls.