We all suffer at some point from an ill-conceived perception of a situation or perhaps a simple misunderstanding or misconception about a fact…
If you then go on to compound this by expressing personal views and opinions, ones which are often based solely upon incomplete information or anecdotal evidence, you are treading on both dodgy and unsocial ground. A potentially dodgy trait in anyone’s book…
Today I feel sad; I’ve been left wondering why I gave 30 years of my life to a society that gives me no thanks. Surely it must have been wasted? Why else would someone trot out all the usual derogatory comments about ‘pigs’? Why else would they appear to have an inherent distrust of the police? Why would they hold the genuine belief “there’s one bloody rule for them (police) and another bugger for us?
Now it would have been so easy for me to counter with… “And what would you know Mr Williamson? Don’t all you Welshmen have a special sheep called Blodwen that you have a physical and loving relationship with?” I resisted the temptation; after all, wouldn’t that make me just as shallow as him? Would that not suggest I was just as uneducated about life’s realities as he appeared to be? Would that not be falling into the trap of judging a group of people solely on a stereotypical belief? A thought process often derived from fear, rumour and anecdote. I decided to question further…
It appears that said Welshman had previously been stopped by a police officer and received a ticket for (allegedly) running a red light. He denied the offence, offering mitigation that; the light was on amber when he passed. The police officer who subsequently dealt with our Welsh friend informed the miscreant; “ah yes, but it was red when your back wheels went over the line. Don’t argue, just admit it and take the ticket or it’ll cost you more at court”! The officer was also belligerent, officious and confrontational (apparently).
Poor Taffy may have been a bit of an ‘amber gambler’ but come on… Where is the discretion, where is the offer of advice or, verbal chastisement if applicable? Some might say he broke the law and deserves the ticket, I would disagree. Firstly it is arguable as to whether or not he did actually break the strict letter of the law and secondly, the actions of that officer have created (or enhanced) a misconception about the police per se. My next worry is that perhaps it is not a misconception?
The two most prevalent misconduct complaints against police officers today are; allegations of ‘incivility’ and ‘abuse of power’. Why is this?
Well let’s look at the incivility first. Is this trait not indicative of a large proportion of today’s society? And, as the police are supposed to reflect society, surely they must also portray this method of communication and social interaction. After all, the majority of police officers have had their social skills (or lack of them), moulded by the same education system and peer groups that anyone else has experienced. Secondly, I would suggest the reality of ‘abuse of power’ complaints usually stems from over zealous application as opposed to out-and-out abuse.
But why would a police officer actually want to go around arresting people willy-nilly or issuing tickets just for the sake of it? Do they get a bonus in their pay? The simple answer to the latter part is no however, the first part is a little more complicated.
Over the last decade or so, Government has created (and constantly tweaks) a quantative system to measure a police officer’s performance. These targets are also used to subsequently measure the success of Chief Constable’s.
In addition to this, a constant stream of ‘cops & robbers’ TV shows, along with the ‘police camera action’ journalistic type ‘reality reports’ have in many ways, portrayed and developed a public misconception about what policing actually is all about.
Successive governments (along with the media) have succeeded in doing two main things; (1) they have totally rearranged the public perception of the traditional British police officer (the ‘Bobby’) and (2), they have created an ‘us & them’ mentality between the public and police. Despite the fact the majority of our society cries out for traditional policing values, we now have a multi level system that ranges from; an almost paramilitary highly trained, heavily armed officer with all sorts of legal powers, down to what in some situations amounts to little more than a park warden wearing a police uniform.
But why is this, who if any one benefits from these changes and more importantly, who suffers a loss?
I would suggest all the benefits are firstly only short-term and, are simply introduced for a quick political and/or financial fix. They are all changes that have been made to support or enhance the popularity of politicians and/or personal aims of Chief Officers.
Loses on the other hand are long-term. Our society will suffer the consequences of these short-term solutions for many years to come. Many years after the current policy makers, Chief Officers and wiz kid movers & shakers have retired or shuffled off. Our children and our children’s children will be the ones likely to suffer any Mad Max type society of the future.
So, who’s loss is it any way? – All of us!