Letters: Rod was right about Bob Marley

Copping out Sir: Both the Police and Crime Commissioner Dr Andrew Billings and your recent correspondent John Pritchard are partly right (Letters, 16 and 23 March). Policing has gone wrong for two reasons. First, the massive cuts in staff instigated by Theresa May as home secretary resulted in a large number of the most experienced officers leaving. Even the replacement of these officers under Boris Johnson took time and could not make up for the loss of experience. Secondly, the inspection regime under the Inspectorate of Constabulary fails to address the crimes that matter to the public. During the years I was PCC for the Thames Valley, I made household

Lloyd Evans

If you hate the Irish, you’ll adore this play

Faith Healer is a classic Oirish wrist-slasher about three sponging half-wits caught in a downward spiral of penury, booze, squalor, sexual repression, bad healthcare, murderous violence and non-stop drizzle. The mood of grinding despair never lets up for a second as the healer, Frank Hardy, along with his moaning wife and their Cockney sidekick, motors around the British Isles trying to cadge pennies from cripples in exchange for bogus cures. Every cliché in the rich thesaurus of Celtic misery is brought together in this rancid melodrama about mob justice. Every cliché in the rich thesaurus of Celtic misery is brought together in this rancid melodrama Brian Friel’s play premiered in

Why weren’t police forces investigating every theft?

Police must investigate every theft. This is the message from the Home Secretary as the government heralds an agreement from all 43 police forces in England and Wales to follow up on any evidence where there is a ‘reasonable line of enquiry’. In practice, that means the police should investigate low-level crimes such as stolen bikes, phones and shoplifting when there is reasonable lead such as a GPS tracker, CCTV footage or a doorbell video. As I noted earlier this month in a cover piece for the magazine, ‘investigate every crime’ doesn’t sound like a particularly novel concept. It raises the question: Why weren’t police investigating every theft? Over the

Northern Ireland’s police service is weak and inept

The data breach at the Police Service of Northern Ireland, which has seen the personal details of all serving officers and just under 2,500 civilian staff accidentally released as part of a response to a Freedom of Information request, is the sort of grotesque, IT foul-up normally reserved for the realms of satire like The Thick of It.  There is a slim chance that any officers in the Province will be laughing. The attempted murder of DCI John Caldwell in front of his young son in Fermanagh earlier this year underlined acutely that dissident republicans hellbent on killing police officers ‘haven’t gone away you know’, to quote Gerry Adams.  In the

Letters: ‘supercops’ won’t save us from rising crime

Crime stoppers Sir: If the Tories’ reputation on crime lies in the hands of these innovative supercops, then it will be sadly doomed, no matter how enterprising they may be (‘Rise of the supercops’, 5 August). Whether we like to believe it or dismiss it as woolly liberalism, the police and courts have a limited impact upon crime. The reality is that crime is driven by powerful social and economic forces, not the effectiveness of the local constabulary. In a liberal democracy, leaving the police to deal with any complex social problem, particularly one as diverse and intractable as crime, is fraught with danger. The police do have an important

Stephen Daisley

We need to talk about tasers

Donald Burgess is the latest Briton to die after being hit by a police taser. He won’t be the last, but the circumstances of his death underscore the need for a wider debate about conducted energy devices. Police were called to a care home in St Leonards-on-Sea on 21 June, where they found Burgess threatening staff with a knife. One officer sprayed him with PAVA, an incapacitant spray that the National Police Chiefs’ Council describes as ‘significantly more potent than CS’. The same officer then struck Burgess with a baton while another discharged a taser, sending an electric current coursing through the man’s neuromuscular system. He was then handcuffed and

Supercops: the return of tough policing

40 min listen

In this week’s cover article, The Spectator‘s political editor Katy Balls takes a look at the bottom-up reform that’s happening in some parts of the country, and asks whether tough policing is making a comeback. Katy joins the podcast together with Kate Green, Greater Manchester’s Deputy Mayor of Crime and Policing. (00:50) Next, the war has finally gone to Moscow. Recently, a number of drone strikes have hit targets in the Russian capital. Though Ukraine hasn’t explicitly taken responsibility, in the magazine this week, Owen Matthews writes that it’s all a part of psychological warfare. Owen is the author of Overreach: The Inside Story of Putin and Russia’s War Against Ukraine and he

Ross Clark

The authoritarianism of British Transport Police

When our freedoms are being taken away we are like the proverbial frog boiled alive in water where the temperature is slowly brought to boiling point. Who batted an eyelid in June when it was reported that rail companies are drawing up plans to abolish paper rail tickets and have us all travel with e-tickets instead? Who picked up on today’s story that explains one of the reasons why the police are so keen to switch us to e-ticketing? Lucy D’Orsi, chief constable of the British Transport Police, says her force wants access to data from passengers’ mobile phones and bank cards so that it can track us around the

Supercops: the return of tough policing

In a few weeks’ time, police across the country will receive a new order: ‘Investigate every crime’. It may not sound like a novel concept, but over the past few years forces – including the Metropolitan Police – have largely given up on low-level crime. Austerity was seen as a reason to ignore burglaries, thefts and minor assaults if officers believed there was little chance of identifying a suspect. But now a new theory is about to be put into practice: that investigations will lead not just to more convictions, but to more deterrence. Not that the Tories would use the phrase, but this is a back-to-basics strategy This change

Judge Dredd: the prescience of a 45-year-old comic strip

In 1977, an enduring character was created for the pages of the IPC comic 2000 AD: Judge Dredd, lawman of the future, the most visible symbol of police procedure – a helmeted, black-clad, motorbike-riding policeman patrolling the streets of Mega-City One, a vast metropolis stretching along the eastern coast of the US, whose remit also allows him – as his honorific implies – to be an on-the-spot judge, jury and, when the occasion demands, executioner. The occasion often demands it. It is interesting that the two longest- running human cartoon characters in Great Britain represent opposite poles of the psyche. Their names both begin with D, for some reason or

Listen: Emily Thornberry’s car crash interview on Sunak smear

What do you do when you’re in a hole? Stop digging. Apparently Emily Thornberry didn’t get the memo. The Shadow Attorney General was wheeled out on the Easter Monday media round to defend Labour’s attack advert which claims that Rishi Sunak isn’t tough enough on criminals convicted of child sexual abuse. Thornberry did her best to sound authoritative and lawyerly but came unstuck multiple times during her seven-minute grilling on Radio 4’s Today programme. After allowing Thornberry to sound off on the importance of overhauling the sentencing guidelines on child sexual abuse, host Justin Webb asked her about Sir Keir Starmer’s own role in drawing them up. As Director of Public Prosecutions,

I’m in trouble with the police

There is almost nothing I like more than a running battle. As my friend Julie Burchill also says, when a really good row comes along it gives you this warm, cosy feeling inside. So it was not with disappointment that I received a noteworthy response to my column of last week. For those who were sleeping on the job (or only read Rod’s column), I made some pertinent comments about community relations in the Leicestershire area. Community relations, you may recall, have essentially broken down, with Hindu and Muslim gangs facing off in the city and some of the surrounding area. In passing I noted the number of female police

In praise of the speeding crackdown

We all needed a laugh, what with the pound tanking and inflation running away, my old pal Kwasi delivering a Budget, probably for a bet, like Milton Friedman’s last cheese-dream, and the threat of nuclear annihilation starting to seem like a welcome turn up for the books. Said laugh has just been obligingly provided by the Metropolitan Police. They have just, without broadcasting the fact, decided to enforce the speed limit with the tiniest bit more rigour – and as a result, they’ve nicked more than two and a half times as many people for speeding in the first six months of this year than they did in the last

Who are these pathologically liberal rozzers? Channel 4’s Night Coppers reviewed

Grizzled police officers of the old school should probably avoid Channel 4’s Night Coppers for reasons of blood pressure. Like most documentary series with close access to the police, this one paints them in a light so favourable as to be almost comically sycophantic. The trouble for those grizzled types is that – the times being as they are – what’s now considered favourable is to make the rozzers who patrol Brighton after dark all seem like that pathologically liberal Dutch cop played by Paul Whitehouse in the late 1990s. Not that this is a reference which most of the officers featured in Wednesday’s opening episode would get – largely

Why the Met Police keeps failing

Much has been made of the decision to place the Metropolitan Police in what is often referred to as special measures, where it joins five other forces from England and Wales. The many ways in which the Met has fallen short have also been amply aired, from the murder of Sarah Everard by a serving officer to the botched investigation of serial killer Stephen Port, to the racist and sexist mindset laid bare at some London police stations. Many crime rates in the capital have been rising sharply, as – naturally – has public dissatisfaction. Nor should the blame game that has broken out between the Home Office and the

The police have bowed to the mob

On Saturday immigration enforcement officers went to Peckham to pick up a man suspected of overstaying his visa. When they arrived, a crowd of protesters turned up to stop the ‘immigration raid’, blocking the van from departing. When the police turned up, they also found their way blocked. Eventually, they gave up. The arrested man was released on bail. The Home Office released a statement which said that ‘preventing immigration enforcement teams from doing their job is unacceptable.’ This was accompanied by the universally understood but officially unstated caveat: not that we’d prevent you from preventing officers doing their job. We cannot have a situation where groups feel they can

Criminalising ‘cyberflashing’ is a waste of time

It’s a fact of life that at any given time, a woman’s social media messages will be filled with three things. Young Ponzi schemers asking if you want to earn £500-a-month from the comfort of your own sofa; an unknown jewellery brand with 15 followers begging you to be their new ‘brand ambassador’; and blurry photos of a man’s penis. The men who send these pictures are weirdos, obviously. But if the government gets its way, soon they’ll also be criminals. The Online Safety Bill, going through parliament today, makes so-called ‘cyberflashing’ a criminal offence. According to the government, the new law will mean that: ‘Anyone who sends a photo or film of a person’s genitals, for the

What’s behind the wave of French police suicides?

Since Russia invaded Ukraine last week the western media has focused on little else. In Britain this concentration is understandable: the country has finally come out of Covid and there is a large gap to be filled on the airwaves and in the newspapers. Not so in France, still encumbered by Covid restrictions, where in just over five weeks voters go to the polls in the first round of the presidential election. As much as the French are troubled by events in Ukraine – a recent poll reported that 88 per cent of those canvassed were ‘shocked’ by the Russian invasion – they will vote on issues closer to home:

Letters: In defence of the police

A health-care disaster Sir: Kate Andrews’s piece on who really controls the NHS (‘Waiting game’, 12 February) gives us a flavour of how things have come to this: an unaccountable health service with a government attached. We are about to enter a new phase, with additional taxation in the form of increased NI based on promises which are already looking hollow — waiting lists will continue to rise. There is no sign that the 100,000 key workers who are needed are going to be found any time soon. The truth of the matter is that the people have been fed a number of lies for decades: that health care in

Portrait of the week: Inflation hits 30-year high, Andrew settles out of court and Turkey changes its name

Home Boris Johnson, the Prime Minister, made ready for a Russian invasion of Ukraine by cutting short a planned visit to northern England for a Cobra meeting. ‘We are on the edge of a precipice,’ he said. He said Britain was prepared to target Russian banks and companies, and stop them raising money on London’s financial markets. Sir Keir Starmer, the Labour leader, condemned an online rally called No War in Ukraine: Stop Nato Expansion, organised by the Stop the War coalition, of which Jeremy Corbyn is the deputy president. Petrol prices reached a new high of 148.02p a litre. Inflation rose to 5.5 per cent, its highest for 30