I was coming home once on holiday with a stolen hotel towel, which was discovered by customs (I recall myself as wearing a stetson at the time, which was the fashion. In my house anyway)
The airport copper said something to me I have never forgotten:
I'll let you go, if you promise me something in return: if you ever see a copper getting his head kicked in, you'll help him [presumably by phoning for more police..]
So the police want to know what the public want? Here's my list.
- Don't carry guns. Resist efforts to arm police. Make drawing a gun the last resort (let alone using one). Routinely suspend officers who draw their guns, let alone use them. Don't carry them at airports, train stations, party conferences, *anywhere*. Try and learn the lesson of Jean-Charles de Menezes, essentially by making sure it never happens again. Random executions of innocents makes us feel very uneasy.
- Don't ask for internment [detaining suspects without trial] or similar police state powers. Resist any attempts to impose such injustices. If your suspects don't confess after a fortnight, why should they after three months? Do you think they might get bored? Or are we going to take up torture, like the US?
- Don't try to scare us with this "threat" crap. We're not Americans, we grew up with terrorism and bombs and carnage and "don't-go-up-west-to-do-your-XMAS-shopping-cos-the-IRA-are-going-to-bomb-Oxford-Street" which we heard every fucking year in life.
- The role of the police is not, and never has been, to fight terrorism. That's the job of CI5 or MI6. Try catching criminals, you seem to find that hard enough anyway.. We won't blame you when terrorist actions occur now, any more than we blamed you for Guildford, Birmingham etc. While I'm at it - please make a point to aim in future to try and convict the actual perpetrators of the crime, instead of some people who simply match an ethnic profile.
- Oppose ID cards.
Simply, you need to champion the rights of the public, and to minimise the powers of the Force (how aptly named..) to the minumum needed to do the job we pay you to do. Then we might grow to trust you again.
See, it's not just about how we the public define you the police - it's really about how you define yourselves. Do you [like John Self in Money on reading 1984], see yourselves as "ambitious young corporals in the Thought Police" or do you see yourselves as the guardians of public liberty? I wonder.
And while I'm on the subject, I justify the title of this post with memories of Orgreave and the Battle of the Beanfields. Bastards. And I still think Ian Blair should resign.