Consider the grim-jawed face which the police now turn towards us, the public. They stand around scowling with sub-machine guns, stomp about in big boots, stab-vests and baseball caps, display their clubs, Tasers, pepper-sprays and handcuffs to let us know who’s boss, and generally act as if the high street is a war-zone, on the rare occasions when they bother to visit it.
They love to dress up like Star Wars stormtroopers in body-armour and big helmets. They even have their own air force, which enjoys flying round in the small hours, blazing its searchlights into people’s gardens from 1,000ft. But confronted with 200 boozed-up ravers in a West Country wood, they won’t face them in the dark. We pay for this non-service. Avon and Somerset police’s annual budget for 2016/17 is £276,075,000. They employ 2,759 officers who cost us £146,383,000 in pay each year. They spend more than a million a year on their share of the ‘National Police Air Service’. From July 2009 to May 17, 2016, they spent £51,000 on CS Spray (pepper spray) – that’s 5,180 canisters at £9.86 each. They also spent £31,000 on batons at £25 each, and another £1,249,000 on body armour.
BUT despite all this clobber they won’t go into the woods to enforce the law and keep the peace. I’m honestly not sure what they do do. They always say that if people like me, who criticise them, were in trouble, we’d call on them. But would they come when we did? Or might it be too dark?Once, the English police force was the best in the world. The idea that a middle-class columnist would have cause to say this in a national newspaper would be unthinkable. Yet it resonates with middle England. Froth as they might, the online police flag-wavers and blamers of the Tories can't deny this.
How did we get here..?