Please be aware that I served as a police officer for over 30 years retiring as a Detective Chief Superintendent. I had 26 years continuous service in the CID which included 9 years with regional crime squad and 3 years as the senior advisor to the Home Office Police Department and the H.O.Scientific Research and Develoment Branch. I then worked for 15 years with British Telecom in a police liason role. This role required regu;lar contact with all 43 forces, the Home office Departments, ACPO and Security Services. I served in an age when the police had considerably more success fighting crime than they do today. I have over 45 years knowledge and experience of the police service.
Prior to the Police & Organised Crime Act 2005 police officers had powers of arrest under common law and by certain statutes. In effect arrestable offences where listed and in the main confined to those offences which were punishable by 5 or more years imprisonment. The 2005 act gave the police powers of arrest greater than those of Hitlers Gestapo, prior to the war. Todays police officers can and frequently do, arrest for the most trivial of offences, many of which prior to this act were not even considered crimes and were not recorded as crimes. For instance police now arrest for common assault and record it as a crime. It was always a civil offence as no bodily harm occurred. All agrieved persons were advised to seek a private summons if they wanted to pursue the matter. Police took no action other than to ensure the queens peace was maintained.
Reports in the news of gross abuse of police powers are now almost a daily occurrence with examples of arrest for the most ridiculous of reasons, the very old the very young and the mentally less able included . The story of the 11 year old arrested for assault because he threw a piece of cucumber at another child is known to most. Many are arrested for matters which in the past, would have resulted in the police officer being sacked and a possible appearence in court for false arrest, imprisonment and assault.
The Police do not require this power and never asked for it in the first instance. This all inclusive power was given to the police solely in order that the increased number of arrests and the new recordable crimes would boost the dreadfully low detected crime figures and make Mr Blair look like a crime fighter.
This police power added to to the other pointless police powers such as the retention of photographs, fingerprints and DNA of innocent persons have done enormous damage to our civil libertys and do not in any way add to police performance. A lot of nonsense is written about the need to store DNA of all citizens but it should be remembered that DNA is the simplest evidence to plant at a scene of crime. It is very difficult if not impossible to leave some other persons fingerprints at a crime scene but anyone can scatter the DNA of many others at a crime scene. DNA is of considerable assistence when re-investigating old crimes committed when no one knew of DNA. It will be of far less use in future investigations.
Fingerprints were once said to be the wonderous aid to Police Detection. What happened?The villians took to wearing gloves.
Why does this idea matter?
It is vital that the Police Service be required to return to the time when it's priorties are as defined in the old definition of a Constable. " A Constable is a citizen locally appointed to PROTECT LIFE AND PROPERTY, PREVENT AND DETECT CRIME and PRESERVE THE QUEENS PEACE."
All Police Officers should be reminded on a daily basis that what ever rank they hold and what ever position they have within the service they are all first and foremost CONSTABLES.
Today's police service has completely lost the plot. My old force (SUFFOLK) was 3 years ago assessed as one of the best in the country. In October of last year the force was graded by HM Inspectorate of Consatbulary as the worst in the country. The only things that had changed in the last three years, within the force, was the three people at the top. the Chief Constable recently congratulated himself and the force for a regrading from POOR to FAIR. That says it all.
In my time no self respecting Chief constable would accept anything less than Very good and many would suffer if it was not excellent
Today the public considers the Police as puppet of the Government, controlled by politicians, driven by costs, and completely out of touch. Confining the police powers of arrest to those of the past would be a first step in restoring public respect. It would enable the enable police officers to to go back to dealing with real crime as a top priority