I came across the below article by Peter Hitchens in the Daily Mail the other day and wondered what you may think about it.  Could its’ theme of this article feature in or shape any of your stories?

After more than 40 years as a journalist at home and abroad, often experiencing history at first hand, I am certain of only one thing – that most people in power are completely clueless about what they are doing.

They seldom, if ever, think. They know no history. They are fiercely resistant to any facts that might upset their opinions. They take no trouble to find out what is actually happening.

Here is an example. Ian Austin MP, a member of Parliament’s Home Affairs Committee, last week extruded the following opinion: ‘The police’s number one job is to catch criminals so they can be convicted.’ He was objecting to a scheme that gave priority to contact with the public.

I am pretty sure the same dim view is shared across Parliament, in every police HQ and in most media outlets in the country. Yet it is utterly, totally mistaken. Every arrest and prosecution is, in fact, a failure by the police. It’s necessary, but it’s also secondary.

Their job, the reason we hired them in 1829, was to prevent crime and disorder. That’s what the constable’s oath says, and they successfully did prevent huge amounts of crime and disorder for more than a century, by patrolling on foot.

And so it continued until the country went mad 50 years ago in the first heady years of the Age of Mistakes in which we continue to live – the era of instant mashed potato, Jimmy Savile, Watney’s Red Barrel, tower blocks, comprehensive schools, votes for teenagers, inner ring roads, the Common Market and Dr Beeching’s railway massacre.What use is a police officer after a crime has been committed, unless he can do first aid?

Most of those errors were made in public view, cheered on, as usual, by the political and commentating classes who invariably mistake novelty for progress. 

But the decision to abolish police foot patrols went unnoticed at the time. It was only afterwards that British people of a certain age wondered where the police – once visible everywhere – vanished to.

For the decision was taken in secret, by an unknown body called the Home Office Police Advisory Board, on December 7, 1966. It was adopted by new, unwieldy and unresponsive merged police forces that were created soon afterwards. 

Since then, the police do not prevent crime or disorder. They wait for it to happen, and then come rushing along to the scene of their failure, accompanied by loud electronic screams and wails and flashing lights.

What use is a police officer after a crime has been committed, unless he can do first aid? He cannot unstab, unshoot, unburgle, unmug or unrape the victim. 

Nothing he does can bring back what has been lost. The chances are that he cannot find or catch the culprit – and if he does, the miscreant will get off anyway, and skip, laughing, down the steps of the courthouse, as two did last week.

If you wait for people to commit crimes before you do anything, you will never, ever be able to build enough prisons to hold them.

It’s obvious if you think about it. It’s not obvious if you don’t.


Do you agree that the police should be patrolling more on foot to deter crime or do you think the same function can be performed in other ways?

One thing to bear in mind is that there is no way to realistically measure just how much crime the police or their style of policing, reduces or prevents crime or disorder.

Maybe the important question is how does the public feel most reassured that they are safe?  Does the sight or more police officers reassure or worry you?

Coming soon – the most comprehensive policing directory for writers and researchers in the world.

  1. J E Ellard says:

    I agree entirely – especially the bit about Dr Beeching. I spent 39.5 years with BR and was right in the thick of rationalisation as it was termed.

    The police in Ireland have seen the same cuts. No street patrols, only two ancient cars at local (small town) stations, and decimation of stations in very small towns and villages. In an emergency people will have to wait up to an hour (if they get a response at all).

    In Ireland, it was principally caused by the state’s financial situation, and the Government’s ultra willingness to do exactly what they are told by the Eurocrats, instead of standing up and saying NO!

    Eric Ellard


  2. So pleased to have found your blog.. Prepare to be stalked…


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