After a recent increase in burglaries a number of constituents have written to demand a greater police presence.
I spent a Friday night / Saturday morning shift with the police earlier this year. Actually, I was pleasantly surprised by the number of officers that were on duty. Clearly, more would be welcome, and there is no slack: changing shift and leave patterns can lead to reductions in the number of officers on duty.
Certainly, the Prime Minister’s decision to begin recruiting a further 20,000 officers is going to help.
Just how many police officers are deployed in Hampshire is not a parliamentary matter, it is for the elected Police Commissioner to negotiate with the Chief Constable, and to consider how much extra to charge us all on our council tax policing precept.
I do not doubt that greater police numbers are necessary to address the complexity of modern crime, particularly crime facilitated by the internet. In addition, we need more officers to examine the growing volume of evidence that is presented by mobile phones and other electronic media.
Greater police presence on the streets is a welcome reassurance, but the coincidence of a the police being present when gangs have a go at one another, or a burglary takes place will remain remote.
The problem is not a new one. Oliver Cromwell, confronted with growing criminal disorder during the Commonwealth, asked “if I arm one in ten, will that suffice?”
A rather greater source of complaint in my postbag concerns the judiciary.
We know that a upsurge in crime in any local area can often be the responsibility of one or two individuals. Therefore, nothing is more frustrating than when one of them is caught and prosecuted only to be given a suspended sentence.
The Courts have been given ever greater sentencing powers in recent years to deal with repeat offenders. I can understand the anger when they are not used. We were told that knife crime would incur a mandatory jail sentence, only to read earlier this year of a miscreant getting a suspended sentence for his second offence.
Perhaps we should consider electing judges as they do in the USA. That would keep them more in touch with the public perception and prejudice of what justice should look like.
Hitherto, our judicial model has been quite different and separated from the people: When you become a judge you abandon prejudice and become utterly impartial. You cease to be yourself, symbolised by adopting the name ‘Justice’, and by wearing a uniform and wig.
This has however, now been thoroughly undermined by our novel Supreme Court where they have abandoned these conventions and instead, courted celebrity. As did the Court’s president, Lady Hale, by displaying her spider broach, and then by appearing before a presentation entitled ‘Spider Woman Takes Down The Hulk’ and praising the “girly swats“. If we have to endure this sort of political posturing, we should have the choice of electing them, or to elect others in their place.