Former Home Secretary, Charles Clarke MP has taken to sending me (I am sure I am not alone in this) regular emails with his latest thoughts on various topics.
This evening’s missive puts the boot into Conservative plans for policing and in particular the proposal to abolish the MPA and vest all responsibility for policing in the Mayor of London.
The Charles Clarke take on this is that:
” … the Shadow Home Secretary, Chris Grayling, intends Boris Johnson personally to take overall control of London’s police. The cross-party Metropolitan Police Authority would be abolished and the national responsibilities of the Met would be sidelined. The Metropolitan Police force would in effect become the personal possession of Boris Johnson, with the full authority of the Conservative Home Secretary.
Mr Grayling admits quite openly that this is David Cameron’s model for policing across the country.
This highly dangerous idea is only part of a pre-election flurry of comment and posturing about the role of the police. The problem is that too much of the discussion is about political showboating and too little about the real issues which face policing.
It is time to go back to first principles.
The two main challenges which the police face in fighting law-breaking are to collect and analyze intelligence about crime and to build and maintain strong and resilient partnerships with others in fighting crime. That is the basis on which they can then form and execute effective strategies to reduce overall levels of crime, in which they have had a good deal of success in recent years.”
And he concludes – in blistering style – as follows:
“However this necessary focus moves from difficult to impossible when the putative Party of Government, the Conservatives, decides to undermine the whole fabric of policing.
The police well understand Conservative attacks on useful intelligence techniques such as the DNA Database, CCTV and the use of telecommunications data. They know that the Conservative leadership refuses to face up to the challenges posed by modern terrorism. They know that Conservative local government has been the least ready to engage in proactive partnerships with the police. They appreciate that the Conservatives visceral anti-Europeanism makes pan-European crime –fighting more difficult at a time when it is much more necessary.
But the last straw is to learn, on top of all this, that the Conservatives propose to remove operational independence from the police by abandoning cross-party checks and balances and permitting crude populism to determine police priorities.
‘Boris’s bobbies’ may do it for the strategists in Conservative Central Office. But is a betrayal of the absolute fundamental values and strengths of British policing.”