To the police minister, Nick Herbert MP


silvertonDear Nick,

When we were both in the think-tank business, we used to end up agreeing how distant state agencies could be from the needs of the public whom they are supposed to be. Now that you are the police minister, here is a little example that you might be able to do something about.

Listen to the first few minutes of this programme presented by Kate Silverton (pictured) on Radio 5 at the weekend. Basically, she was driving along and was pulled over by the police and questioned. Being stopped by police is a worrying thing and she was shaken by it. She was even more alarmed when they demanded her identification. (She only had her BBC business card – the officers laughed when they realized who it was.)

All that was wrong was that one of her tail lights was out, and as they looked around the car, they pointed out at one of the headlights was a bit iffy too. The sort of thing that could have been sorted with a cheery "Well, Miss Silverton, will you promise me you'll take it in and get those bulbs fixed before you drive anywhere tomorrow night? Yes, well that's just fine, take care, and have a nice evening."

But no, Kate says she sat there trembling as they ominously checked in to see if she or her car had any 'previous'. Treating her as if she was, or could be, a criminal – over a dud light. She couldn't sleep after the incident and was still shaking, she said, as she thought about it.

It's no wonder that people are getting hostile to the police. It's really time you told them to lay off the bully-boy tactics and sent them all to charm school. Then we might all start to think of the police as on the same side as we are, and help them do their job, rather than start shaking when we recall our encounters with them.

Best wishes