Crying over Marshals law: The Ever Extending Police Family

Cops and Town Crier
Ye Olde Town Crier!

“Oh-Yez! Oh-Yez! – Let all citizens draw near and take notice – From this day onward, the first day of November in the year twenty eleven, your high council of the district will henceforth provide you with Night Marshals for your delectation & amusement – sorry – protection!”

According to Hambleton District Council‘s modern-day equivalent of the  town crier, our local authority are hailing the provision of two NightSafe Marshals in a recent media release. Thanks (in no small way) to a three-year grant from the Home Office, there will now be two new hi-viz jackets on the streets of the County Town.

Tim Swales, the District Council Member for Community Safety has said; “These marshals will support police officers to provide a reassuring presence on the streets and will intervene when necessary to prevent alcohol-related violence.”

Night marshals are to once again patrol the streets of Northallerton. It is the latest initiative from the Hambleton and Richmondshire Community Safety Partnership…(More)

As far as North Yorkshire police are concerned, our local area commander, Inspector Sarah Sanderson added: “In recent years, many towns and cities have seen agencies other than the police, operating at night.” That’s actually a fact and may be so however, is it a fact we’re really happy about?

We’ve already seen the implementation of Community Support Officers (PCSO), with their reduced levels of training and fewer powers, now we’ve also got private security guards with even less training and no more power than a normal citizen. But what type of policing do we want in our society? Do we want our nation’s policing to be carried out by fully trained, sworn and warranted officers, as per dictionary noun or, are we happy that policing is just a process to be performed by almost anyone, as per the dictionary verb?

The word “Police” means, generally, the arrangements made in all civilised countries to ensure that the inhabitants keep the peace and obey the law. The word also denotes the force of peace officers (or police) employed for this purpose…(

I have no wish to detract from the enthusiasm and dedication of many within the ‘extended police family however; despite their enthusiasm for the role and the community they serve, they are simply part of an elaborate ruse by senior police officers. A mostly political con trick of mammoth proportions that in reality, is designed to placate public concern and provides very little value to protecting our citizens.

My first tear of concern relates to the important question; what happens to the marshals (and possibly PCSO’s) when all the central funding runs dry?

But NightSafe Marshals will be stepping out on Friday and Saturday nights between 10pm and 4am to observe the impacts of our night-time economy… “In support of the police”. Notice I say ‘observe’ because like the rest of us, that is all they are actually empowered to do. They have no greater power than any citizen, and rightly so, for the UK is not a nation policed by ad hoc nondescript quazi-official or paramilitary type organisations… At least not yet and here my second tear starts to flow.

In addition, it’s also interesting to note the wording of the release suggests that, the NightSafe marshals are support for the police, the implication being there are actually some police officers there to be supported in the first place? Often not the case, and despite there already being fewer available officers than there was thirty years ago, those who are available are seriously depleted not long after midnight. A factor mainly due to shift and deployment factors, compounded by current resource management methodology… My third tear!

Street Marshals/Wardens are now (arguably) being used ‘successfully’ up and down the land; whether or not they “contribute to reductions in violence and anti-social behaviour” is also another arguable point. Local Authorities, and (to a certain extent) Chief Police Officers, continually lord the expansion of the ‘wider police family’ however; irrespective of all the carefully contrived sound-bite rhetoric for the media, this is mostly down to budgetary considerations, not operational ones. Their actual ‘value’ tends to be dependant upon how much mission creep is allowed by individual Chief Constables… My fourth tear!

The public purse is empty, despite our increasing taxes, and effective operational policing is an expensive commodity, hence the real reason behind many of these schemes. In reality, they are little more than policing on the cheap. But Chief Officers and local authorities have been tasked with not only combating crime but also, ‘reducing the fear of crime,’ in other words, doing their best to convince communities that crime isn’t actually as bad as they perceive it to be, and trying to do more with less… My fifth tear!

A similar scheme operating in Leeds has been criticised by police staff on internet forums. One contributor said: “These street marshals are little more than members of the public with fluorescent jackets on and they’re being asked to do exactly the same job the police who are vetted, trained and equipped to do.”

If we continue down this road we’ll end up with private security replacing the police in every aspect of traditional policing, and the police will end up being recorders of crime rather than out there on the streets acting as a deterrent…(more)

After spending thirty years of my life serving the public in an organisation with worldwide respect that I, and many others were justifiably proud of, is it really any wonder I’m crying about the damage that has been done to it by politicians and many senior officers? But my biggest tear of all is shed for the communities who have lost the level of policing they need and desire!