Monday, December 17, 2007

Down At The Nick

Why have three out front when none will do?

Worrying news from Cricklade:

"NORTH Wiltshire's top cop has warned residents in Cricklade they could be responsible for the closure of their own police station.

Cricklade Police Station, in High Street, no longer has a manned front desk due to cutbacks, but Chief Inspector Boland urged residents to use the station as much as possible.

When members of the public complained it was closed, Ch Insp Boland assured them it was manned and officers at the station would respond if they were not tied up.

"It is not closed but when the accountants come to review our expenses the first thing they will say is that it is perceived to be closed anyway' and they will close it," he warned."

Did you follow that?

Cricklade residents (aka the customers) are angry because their local police station is closed- ie if you go there you find nobody manning the front desk, and even if you shout, nobody comes. But rather than putting it right, North Wiltshire's top cop advises them to pretend the station's functioning properly as it is. Otherwise, he says, it will be perceived the residents perceive it's closed, and it will be closed. Even though in real world terms, it's closed already.

Only in Stalin's Russia is such madness possible.

And there's no doubt Stalin would have approved of the commissars' programme to streamline policing by closing stations. As he would have appreciated, manned stations open to the public are a huge distraction for the police. Far more efficient if they concentrate 100% on their core function, which is to carry out orders from above.

So all over the country, stations are closing. According to today's Sunday Telegraph, more than 600 have already closed since Big Government Labour came to power:

"Only one police station in eight is now open 24 hours a day and 18 out of 43 forces do not have a single station open around the clock."

It is true that new stations have opened, but these tend to be of a very different type, often closed to the general public altogether.

For example, in the Met area, the plan is to close local nicks and organise policing around out-of-town mega-bases. According to the Register:

"This gives a basic blueprint along the following lines. Most conventional policing, and most police, will be at the 'flexible warehouse' that isn't open to the public, but that is quite likely to occupy industrial estate sites. Visible policing (aside from the ones tearing around with flashing blue lights) will be in shop-style high street premises."

And the high street premises will be small kiosks in shops or libraries, manned by those Community Support Numpties in Yellow Jackets (see this blog), and only open 9-5. Need to see a cop outside office hours, and you'll have to take your chances on waiting for a blue light car to come available. Which wasn't good enough for 14 year old Jack Large who died earlier this month after being stabbed outside an unmanned station in Chigwell.

Regular BOM readers will already be aware of how this plays out in affluent areas. In places like Primrose Hill- part of LB Camden- local residents have given up on the police altogether, and hire private security guards to patrol the streets. That's despite the fact that Camden reportedly has 827 police officers, 169 police staff and 98 Community Support Officers.

What do they all do? You know the answer- six out of every seven hours is spent doing admin and taking meal breaks (eg see here).

In Primrose Hill, residents buy their way round the problem. As with the rest of our dire public services, everything's fine so long as you can afford to pay twice.

Of course, if you live in Chigwell or Cricklade and you can't afford to pay twice, you're stuffed.

Bring on those elected sheriffs. The ones that have to serve their local customers or they get slung out.

HTP: John B


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