Monday, December 12, 2005

Met Spin


Nobody's saying the £3bn pa Met Police have an easy job. Clearly they don't. Our streets aren't as safe as they once were, they face rafts of conflicting priorities from government, and of course, there's that deadly terrorist threat.

But personally I'd feel a lot safer if they focused all their energies on catching bad guys, rather than trying to convince us how well they're doing really.

Their latest wheeze is a public poll on how they are dealing with terror. There are ten questions like this:

"Charles Kennedy MP, Leader of the Liberal Democrats, 15 July 2005:

‘The speed and efficiency with which this [7 July bombings] was so calmly and professionally handled by the Metropolitan Police and the security services, the transport and emergency personnel, can give us all confidence’.

If London came under terrorist attack again, would you be confident in the police emergency response?

Yes/No"

Maybe it's just me, but doesn't m'learned friend call that leading the witness? Ever so slightly.

What's worse is that the poll doesn't even mention the most glaring police failure in the bombings. Which, as we know, was not the magnificent way they responded after the event, but the complete breakdown of their intelligence operation beforehand.

And what will this poll be used for? To tell us that- whatever we might have thought- actually we all have complete confidence in Sir Ian Blair (and can he really be no relation)? The same Sir Ian who was being interviewed on R4 Today minutes before the first of the 7/7 bombs exploded, and was crowing about how the Met was the envy of world in anti-terror policing.

Polls like this are all part of the wider scheme that began with the British Crime Survey (an impressionistic opinion poll whose main purpose is to convince us that, despite the hard stats, the crime problem is not getting worse). Suitably tweaked and massaged they are thought to be most helpful in the battle for hearts and minds.

But we've got more than enough spinmeisters already. Sir Ian should remember what we're paying him for, and get back on the beat.

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