Boris Johnson promises to recruit 20,000 more police officers. Well, good luck with that – he’s going to need it.
Money is usually identified as a key barrier in the way of this ambition: such a massive recruitment drive won’t come cheap.
Funding is indeed a problem, one with which not only governments but also individuals are familiar. It’s like looking at something desirable in a shop window and realising wistfully that we can’t afford it.
Yet that’s only a small part of Mr Johnson’s conundrum. The bigger part is that there isn’t much in the shop window for him to buy.
Today’s young people seek a career in the police without having the slightest idea of what the job entails. And when during their recruitment interviews they’re given an inkling of it, they’re aghast.
The police report says: “Candidates stated they do not like confrontation or were shocked by the need to work different shift patterns and possibilities of cancelled rest days… their mental health or their ability to cope with certain situations is just not evident from day one”.
And the reason isn’t just that those candidates “have been wrapped in cotton wool”, though that’s certainly true. The real problem is that our education is spewing out youngsters who are soft not only generally, but also in the head.
Here we have young people who decide to dedicate their lives to keeping the public safe from criminals. On what basis have they made their decision?
Policing is often a family occupation, so perhaps their fathers or uncles are cops. Alternatively, they must have seen cop shows on TV or played cop games on their PlayStations. That too would have given them some idea of what policemen do for a living.
And even if they have no policemen in the family, and neither have they seen a single police show, they could have figured some basics for themselves.
Cops chase criminals. Criminals resist being chased and especially arrested. Once arrested, they try to keep the truth to themselves, forcing interrogators to catch them in lies.
Hence police work doesn’t merely have a potential for confrontation – confrontation is to cops what putting out fires is to firemen: their stock in trade.
The next link in this logical chain is to realise that criminals don’t keep regular hours. They may break the law at night and on weekends. Therefore those who chase criminals have to work odd hours too, matching their own schedule to the felons’ – such is the job.
Since young recruits are unable to figure out these things for themselves, the conclusion is inevitable: they’re morons. I’m using the word colloquially, rather than clinically, although in some cases the clinical definition may apply as well.
But most cases can’t be medicalised. The explanation is the same as one proffered by many criminals on trial: it’s all society’s fault. Except that here the explanation rings true.
Our schools, with the parents’ robotic acquiescence, are churning out whole generations catastrophically unable to face life’s simplest challenges to mind and character.
Would you like such people to man the line of defence separating evil-doers from you? One would think that lazy cretins shying away from confrontation are less suited to policing than to just about any other career.
However, staff shortages are so severe that police forces are planning to do a Mohammad and the mountain. Rather than trying to find some youngsters who’ve evaded the corrupting effect of our ‘education’, the forces may change their working practices to accommodate their low-grade human material.
Thereby things come full circle, and it’s as vicious as they come. For our successive governments have set out to corrupt every institution protecting our ancient liberties: parliament, the armed forces – and the police.
Our police forces resemble social services more and more, and law enforcement bodies less and less. They’re expected to function according to every pious precept of political correctness, a subversive dogma overturning every moral and intellectual certitude of British polity.
The concept of evil that leads to crime, and crime that leads to punishment, is no more. Reigning supreme is Rousseau’s fallacy of man being both perfect and, tautologically, perfectible.
Hence, when some men manifestly don’t end up perfect, the fault lies not with them, and certainly not with some mythical event that took place in the Garden of Eden, but with society. Somehow those poor souls have fallen through the cracks in the societal floor.
Now, producing potential police recruits unfit for the job may indeed be a collective problem. Yet the choice to commit a crime is always individual, but that understanding is now extinct.
Either society has failed to make criminals wealthy, or it has neglected their psychological problems, or it overlooked their lack of parental love, or whatnot. Now it behoves society to correct its oversights by easing those dears’ return to the straight and narrow.
Counselling, medical help (whether really needed or not), roomier social housing will all work better than punishment. And even if the crime committed is so horrendous that some prison time is inevitable, the purpose of imprisonment isn’t punitive but again social and educational.
Let’s not forget either that certain minorities are disproportionately represented in prisons. The reason can’t be that they commit more crimes – no, it’s society that discriminates against them.
This general ethos produces concrete policies designed to emasculate the police, such as the severe limit on stopping and searching suspects imposed by Theresa May, then Home Secretary.
Also, nonviolent crimes against property routinely go not only unsolved but indeed uninvestigated – the police are tacitly encouraged to treat them as an extension of the government’s own wealth redistribution. The butcher, the baker and the housebreaker all practise valid professions, goes the common belief.
This take on human nature, justice and law enforcement tears to shreds the old picture of a policeman, truncheon in hand, feeling an evil-doer’s collar.
That stark image has been replaced by a pastel-coloured picture of the new policeperson, a slightly sterner version of a social worker, whose principal task is to protect not the public’s safety but the criminal’s rights – and perhaps to satisfy his need for a hug.
A knack for confrontation has been replaced as a job requirement by wholehearted commitment to the ‘share, care, be aware’ ethos. Thus adjusting police operations to the intake of our non-confrontational youngsters makes sense.
The concern for the rights of criminals must extend to the rights of policemen, sorry, policepersons. Why should they work long hours and skip weekends? Isn’t that the violation of their human rights? Of course it is.
An influx of those non-confrontational, work-shy youngsters will simply hasten the inexorable change, including, no doubt, allowing policepersons to strike.
One wonders whether this is what Sir Robert Peel had in mind when he created the Metropolitan Police some 100 years ago. The question is rhetorical; don’t bother to answer.