Friday, September 23, 2005

It's An Unfair Cop

(Edited extract from The Daily Telegraph)

Sir Ian Blair, the Commissioner of the Metropolitan police has proposed that officers should be allowed to by-pass the courts and confiscate driving licences, seize vehicles and issue anti-social behaviour orders on the spot.

Sir Ian said "modernisation" of the force should be carried forward by introducing "an escalator of powers" for the dispensing of instant justice.

"One idea is to have some police officers - paid more and with more powers - to impose an interim anti-social behaviour order, for instance, or suspend a driving licence," he said. This would have an immediate effect rather than waiting for intervention by the courts, Sir Ian suggested.

He acknowledged that giving police powers currently exercised only by the courts would be controversial.....
Damn right it would, Sir Ian. You are not the first policeman to show frustration at the need to put cases before those irritatingly nitpicking courts, with all their questions and stuffy old procedures, and to back them up with properly gathered evidence that will stand up to scrutiny.

"He's a villain, Sarge". "That's good enough for me. Right, sonny, here's an ASBO - five years inside if you breach it. On your way now."
I've got a better idea for you, Sir Ian. Make sure that your officers gather and record their evidence professionally, and ensure that it gets to the CPS promptly and in proper order. The police officer's training and mindset is focused on deterring and detecting crime and arresting criminals. The judicial mindset is entirely different - that is why courts are independent.

In my home town the old Victorian Police Station still sits next to the Police Court. The two functions were separated a long time ago - let's keep it that way shall we, Commissioner?

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