Official culture


David Cameron has stressed the need for a cultural change in Britain, and indicated how big a task this will be. Nowhere is this needed more than in officialdom. A report yesterday told how a 67 year-old grandfather was arrested for using one swear word to a council official. Six days after the incident, police staged a dawn raid on his home at 5.35am, made him dress, took him to the station, held him in a windowless cell for 6 hours, took his fingerprints and DNA, and fined him an £80 fixed penalty.

Some might think this an excessive over-reaction, questioning the need for a dawn raid and detention over such an incident. Some might even suggest, as the hapless victim did, that maybe there could be more pressing demands on police time, given the volume of more serious crimes taking place.

What it does illustrate is the culture, both of council officials and of the police. It is indicative of the attitude of bodies which have ceased to regard themselves as public servants and instead regard themselves as masters. The culture of officialdom which engenders such incidents might be a good place for Mr Cameron to start…

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