Tuesday, 25 May 2010

Elected police commissioners

I think at this stage it is worth looking to history for inspiration.  Sir Robert Peel invented the modern police service so I think his views on how things should work are worth remembering:

  1. The basic mission for which the police exist is to prevent crime and disorder.
  2. The ability of the police to perform their duties is dependent upon the public approval of police actions.
  3. Police must secure the willing co-operation of the public in voluntary observation of the law to be able to secure and maintain the respect of the public.
  4. The degree of co-operation of the public that can be secured diminishes proportionately to the necessity of the use of physical force.
  5. Police seek and preserve public favour not by catering to public opinion, but by constantly demonstrating absolute impartial service to the law.
  6. Police use physical force to the extent necessary to secure observance of the law or to restore order only when the exercise of persuasion, advice, and warning is found to be insufficient.
  7. Police, at all times, should maintain a relationship with the public that gives reality to the historic tradition that the police are the public and the public are the police; the police being only members of the public who are paid to give full-time attention to duties which are incumbent upon every citizen in the interests of community welfare and existence.
  8. Police should always direct their action strictly towards their functions, and never appear to usurp the powers of the judiciary.
  9. The test of police efficiency is the absence of crime and disorder, not the visible evidence of police action in dealing with it.

For several years, the police has operated neighbourhood policing where local meetings called Neighbourhood Action Panels set the local priorities for their local neighbourhood area.  Experience shows that the typical priorities are 'anti-social behaviour', litter, speeding and youth nuisance.

Anti-social behaviour is currently the number 1 national priority for police forces because it is the public's number 1 priority.  It is high volume, low level issues, often not even crime.

Robert Peel's nine principles includes an interesting contradiction to this trend.

5. Police seek and preserve public favour not by catering to public opinion, but by constantly demonstrating absolute impartial service to the law.

Most the the principles include the public but it also maintains that to be effective, the public must sit back and allow the police as professionals to decide where priorities should be placed, not the public.  I think we could do much worse than simply adopt all these principles as they are.  They are extremely insightful for over 150 years ago but seem to be just what modern policing requires.

Monday, 24 May 2010

Child Trust Funds

Wasted a vote on the Lib Dems.  Wish I hadn't voted at all now.  Srapping the Children's Trust Funds is a stupid act and should not be allowed to happen.  All parents should be encouraged to open a savings fund for their children - perhaps forced to by law.  This just gives out the wrong message entirely.  I want to know how many millions aside from the £250 initial start-up contribution by the Government has been saved by parents so far when otherwise, they wouldn't have saved anything at all.  This is the real loss.  There will now be millions and billions of potential savings lost because the new Government is saying 'don't bother'.

How is the country supposed to grow into a national of savers, not borrowers with this knee-jerk reaction from a Government hell bent on trying to score points.  Surely it would have been better to continue the scheme but save the money in other ways?

Of course it is futile to give away borrowed money but the principle of save-not-spend is still crucially important to instil in parents.  We need to break the habit of borrowing and worrying about the debt later.  The funds must go on even if there is no voucher on offer.  As well as the zero tax incentive, what about allowing those who work to pay money into their CTFs directly from their pay and gaining 'double' tax savings in the process?  Maybe the Government could offer a terminal bonus payment based on the amount saved rather than the initial voucher to invest?  Maybe a percentage of the amount saved at 18 years could be automatically invested on into a pension scheme which isn't accessible until the age of 65?  If it were all invested into a pension scheme, there could be a benefit much later in life - say at 65 years?  Surely this would be enough time for the Government to pay off the deficit and start rewarding those who were proven life-long savers?

I only voted Lib Dem because there was no way a Labour vote would have counted in my constituency.  If I knew my vote counted towards a national total rather than being 'wiped out' by a first past the post local constituency winner, I would have voted differently.  I wonder how many other people felt like me?

Working for the public sector, I now fear for my job.  I would be willing to take a pay freeze or a pay cut to assist in the reduction of the national debt if it meant not actually loosing my job altogether.  I think this attitude show the short sightedness that Gordon Brown warned us against.  We will have a double-dip recession , people will be out of work like never before and I don't think this new Government will know how to deal with 5 or 6 million people on the dole in 18 months time.

Not a good start.