I was not impressed with Hugh Orde’s performance on the Andrew Marr show on Sunday. Although he is a man of impressive achievements, not to mention a knight and OBE, in his role as shop steward for the police chiefs’ union he was drawing a false dividing line between accountability to politicians and operational control.
In last night’s Evening Standard Andrew Jenkins said pretty much all I would want to say about this issue. He is well worth reading:
The old line that politicians set policy and leave “operational matters” to the police is a worn cliché that can hardly stand the light of day. In the case of the Met it has come to mean politicians should give us the money and shut up.
No properly free society allows its police to operate as an elite corps detached from the political process.
The only thing I would disagree with Jenkins on is his denigrating of “community support officers paid for by borough rates” as “uninspiring”. Seeing our PCSOs out in all weathers around Ealing, typically energetic and motivated young people who want to get into the police, inspires me. On this issue Jenkins should literally get out more.
We don’t live in a police state. That is because you can chuck the rascals (politicians) out. It is not the police’s illusory operational independence that keeps us free, it is the ballot box. Police chiefs are just wrong on this one.