Jamie Whyte has an interesting CAPX piece on modern policing.
Why the police have no interest in fighting crime
What’s happened to the police? Why do they dance the macarena and prance around in red high heel shoes when they cannot be bothered to pursue burglars or arrest looters? Why, in other words, are the police doing such a bad job?
It’s because society has changed in ways that make their job more difficult. That’s the conclusion arrived at by Sir Michael Barber, formerly Tony Blair’s Chief Advisor on Delivery, whose Strategic Review of Policing in England and Wales was published earlier this year.
He is perfectly wrong. The police are doing badly because society has changed in a way that makes their job easier.
Whyte goes on to propose an entertaining imaginary scenario which could be applied to many other areas as well as policing. The whole piece is worth reading as a contrarian view of both the police and the public sector generally.
To understand, ask another question: do the police welcome a declining crime rate? The answer may seem to be an obvious yes. After all, fighting crime is their job. And, if you were to ask any chief constable, he would surely claim to seek nothing more passionately than a society free from the scourge of crime.
But it is an implausible idea. Imagine a new drug reduced the inclination to commit crime by 75% and that, discovering it to be free of side-effects, the Government added it to the water supply. This could only strike a police chief as a catastrophe. With crime falling, the demand for policing would also fall, followed by the budgets of police forces and the salaries of police officers.
Therefore it’s in the force’s own interest for crime to persist. Ideally, they should be ‘stretched to the limit’. So, we could expect the police to respond to the emergence of a less criminal population by applying themselves to things that look like police work but which do not prevent crime.