And now let us praise the police


Yes, I know, in the wake of Ian Tomlinson´s death praising the police is not all that fashionable an occupation. However, just as we should and must point to the failures and perversions of what policing should be, so must we point to those instances where the very highest standards are indeed maintained.

John Vidal doesn´t seem to see this the same way that I do but then he writes for The Guardian:

It was a beautiful, crisp, sunny morning in April 2005. At 6.30am the environmental group was just minutes away from its target – a Land Rover factory in the Midlands. The meticulously planned action involved people bursting through the perimeter gate, past drowsy guards and occupying the factory line. Little did they know that almost 50 policemen were already there, drinking cups of tea and waiting for them.

Fortunately for the activists, an advance guard spotted the helmets and the bus carrying the climate change protesters was turned round. It was obvious that someone had tipped off the police. There was simply no other explanation.

From the Peelian Principles about how the police should act and react:

The basic mission for which the police exist is to prevent crime and disorder.

The presence of the police at that factory that day did indeed precent crime and disorder. How wonderful. Back to Vidal:

This week it was almost certain that the 114 people arrested outside Nottingham were also shopped by an informer. Nearly a week before the action, police warned all power companies in the Midlands and the north that a major action against a coal-fired power station was likely and told them to increase security.

Peel again:

The test of police efficiency is the absence of crime and disorder, not the visible evidence of police action in dealing with it.

I agree that not all of the nine principles are observed in each and every police action, but as I say, we should celebrate and point to those times when they are. Here we have two incidents where the police were able and willing to prevent crime and disorder, without the use of physical force, with nothing in fact more than simple information about what the potential criminals intended to do and being there to stop them doing it.

Now to work on principles 2 through 8 perhaps....number 6 seems to be being breached regularly enough.