It's the world we live in - part 1

Looking at the way the police and other public servants perform.

The lovely Robin Hood airportThe lovely Robin Hood airport
So you want to be a Commissioner for the Police? That's the new fangled job that's going nowhere at the moment. Alarm bells are being sounded, and not just by the Tory faithful. And who is to blame for that you may ask? Reports like these - HERE and HERE show that the bar has been set very high, and rumours suggest this may be deliberate. Theresa May is keen for you to know that it was not supposed to turn out this way. But it has. It is on record that the police did not want this idea and sought to rubbish it when it was in the early stages prior to the general election. So are we seeing the end result of 'friends in high places?'

The very idea of elected police commissioners ruffled many feathers, not least in ACPO, an organisation never shy of going in for political manoeuvres. Put simply there is nothing wrong with the general public having a say upon who is to be serving them. The police, like so many other people, are public servants. If government, or any branch of the public service, does not want to involve the public then they should state directly their attitude to democracy. Taking the subject further there may be reservations about this particular policy, but that's another matter. It must be that all public servants have the true support of the general public. It's no good wanting to serve the public but not be endorsed by them.

It was generally assumed by those who framed this policy that the near universal dissatisfaction of the public towards the police could be turned around by more public involvement in the upstream service management. However, something has gone very wrong with the process of translating this election manifesto idea into the upcoming elections for commissioners.

Now one of the reasons that all this stringency, keeping out the likes of Simon Weston for example, is attracting attention is that it contrasts with the facts behind the recently concluded Simon Harwood case. We see that Harwood was a man with a recent record that should have caused alarm. Not something far distant in 1966 when Bob Ashford, see link above, was a youth.

If we go back to the start of the Tomlinson case we see that the police applied all their usual highly questionable, and perhaps even illegal, deflection and bluster techniques to wriggle out of what was clearly a serious case. It was only the persistent efforts of Guardian journalist Paul Lewis that brought this case to greater public attention. In fact some of the efforts at the time of this assault to manage the upcoming disaster were hilarious. Any online forum raising questions about the case seemed to have a troll jumping in to defend the police actions. Clearly there can be no proof that this was a co-ordinated effort but it was so obvious and ham-fisted it does make you wonder. My favourite example was from a forum now closed that even suggested Tomlinson was up for it because he was walking slowly! We have all heard of the term 'loitering with intent' but since when walking slowly become a crime?

It's clear that Harwood was totally unsuited for public office, it's also clear that many people in the police knew this but did nothing and so colluded with this man. The Harwood case is interesting as was Ali Dizaei case. Dizaei climbed up the ranks to Commander despite the fact there were question marks hanging over him, by contrast Harwood was a low ranking officer. Dizaei, because of his ethnic background, ticked many boxes whereas Harwood was simply a useful thug. What links both these cases is that both stayed in the police for so long, how strange it is that the police tasked to sort out problems within society seem so inept at sorting out their own.

And so to the Paul Chambers case. This we wrote about HERE, and the important quote is -

Chambers said the police seemed unable to comprehend the intended humour in his online comment. "I had to explain Twitter to them in its entirety because they'd never heard of it," he said. "Then they asked all about my home life, and how work was going, and other personal things. The lead investigator kept asking, 'Do you understand why this is happening?' and saying, 'It is the world we live in'.

Well Chambers won his appeal and, just to remind ourselves that Chambers lost his job but both Dizaei and Harwood hung onto theirs till the bitter end. It took just over two and a half years for the combined weight of the UK judicial system to wake up to the fact that what Chambers said was a joke. So to laugh or cry? And how much did all this cost? Two and a half years to sort out something so simple a child could have worked it out in seconds; and we are to respect these people?

To be continued -