Oh. Did i fail to take seriously the subject? My apologies.
Still, its this association i make, every term i hear the word “robust”, with “rotund”. I think of the ludicrous “Theophilus Goon”, a bumbling police character in Enid Blyton’s Mystery books. Or the laughing policeman. Or a host of jovial comedy policemen that have graced British film from the earliest of days.
But its “robustness” that politicians are demanding right now, and i am a tad puzzled as to what they might mean.
They surely can’t be thinking of the approach employed by the Chicago Police back in the 60’s, which were certainly robust. Also unlawful, brutal and violent.
Perhaps they mean “taking no chances”: so police should shoot first, as they appear to have done with a certain Brazilian electrician and latterly, just before this rioting kicked off, with Mark Duggan in Tottenham; and they should ask questions after.
On the other hand, that approach could see the body count rise rapidly, whilst public confidence would fall.
Perhaps they mean being less prepared to listen, and having no truck with bleeding heart liberals and alleged rape victims. Ooops! Did i mention rape? Cause this appalling story of Layla Ibrahim, jailed for “wasting police time” in the matter of her own alleged rape, seems pretty robust and no-nonsense to me.
Could it mean not bothering with silly stuff, like the actual detail of statute. So, as i have reported on time and time again over the last couple of years, we will see yet more instances of police unlawfully stopping people trying to take photos, unlawfully seizing their cameras, and unlawfully destroying film.
Hey! Maybe it means zero tolerance of ANY wrong-doing. So when police do commit crim damage (as above) we won’t hear any of this namby-pamby nonsense about IPCC investigations. We’ll just fire the officer and charge them, as appropriate.
And as for politicians who fiddle expenses and News of the World Management. Puh-lease! They’ll be down the station tonight, helping polie with their inquiries. Or else.
I know. At this point, some of you are reading this as an anti-police diatribe. But actually, it ain’t. Its much more of an anti-politician thing.
Just listen to what the police themselves have been saying. Up pops Cameron with a bright idea about using rubber bullets and water cannon: Hugh Orde, ACPO chief and an experienced copper patiently explains how pointless such things would have been.
In the end, i really have a hard time working out just what extra the police were meant to be doing last week.
Many of the supposedly exceptional powers that politicians say they needed were in place and used. I am hearing very few calls from the police themselves for massive new legal powers.
The main criticism seems to be they didn’t go in “hard enough” – is that what robust is meant to mean? But i’ve tackled that elsewhere. If police have a failing, it is that they are unable to respond nimbly enough to fast-moving situations. But possibly that is true of any police force, anywhere in the world.
No. In the end, this all feels like meaningless soundbite. I don’t know what “robust” policing would look like or how different it would look from the current model.
I have yet to hear any politicians spell it out in detail.
Maybe that’s the point. They haven’t a clue.
But it sounds good.
And meanwhile, it is just possible that community policing between the riots isn’t such a bad thing after all – and we would all benefit from a few more happy – and rotund – police officers on the beat.