The following is an excerpt of our fifth issue’s cover article by Michael Curzon. The issue will be available from the 15th September.
Find out how to get your own copy of the issue here.
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Despite the popular myth, now evidently subscribed to by our new Prime Minister Boris Johnson, police numbers per se make little-to-no difference to the crime-cutting capabilities of forces across the country. It is what they actually do that matters.
Were two million new officers to do what roughly 120,000 officers do now (that is, sit in offices and fill out paperwork or whizz past potential crime scenes in battenberg cars) crime would not go down. What is needed is not more officers but for the officers we do have to return to a proactive system of regular preventative foot patrolling and to abandon its current system of reactionary policing.
After all, what good is a police officer once a crime has already been committed? He might be able to conduct minor first aid and take notes to be filed at the office, but he cannot unrob or unstab a victim. By the time an officer is filling out paperwork on a crime in the office, the law and the police have already failed in their aim. The presence, on the streets, of police officers should have deterred the criminal from breaking the law in the first place. But it didn’t as such a presence no longer exists. All people know this, other than, perhaps, politicians in Westminster who are well protected by the law. Outside of this bubble, the presence of a patrolling police officer is – to put it lightly – rare. What is there to prevent a criminal from carrying out an offence if he believes (quite justifiably) that he will not be caught?
It is revealing of his immense ignorance on the topic that our new Prime Minister believes adding 20,000 officers to our police forces will mean ‘another 20,000 officers on the streets’ (as he announced recently). These additional officers will not be patrolling the streets (the only way they can properly prevent criminal action, as is highlighted – among other places – in a 2016 study conducted by researchers from the Institute of Criminology at Cambridge University, available online) as the beat system was abolished from the late sixties onwards.
‘It will be a little while until [the new officers] are on [the streets],’ Mr. Johnson has told us. Nonsense. Unless we return to the system detailed above – of officers creating a regular and visible presence on the streets through (lone) foot patrols – these officers will be sat either in offices miles away from crime scenes, or in cars, whizzing past them (or towards them, when it is already too late).
The police are paid to prevent crime. It is high time they did so again.
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Read the rest of this article in the print issue, information on which can be found HERE.
Photo by Police_Mad_Liam on Flickr.