Man is attacked by a (probably fake) gun wielding thug on his front doorstep. And what’s the reaction from the police?
Christopher has just received one further call from the police. They weren’t ringing with news of an arrest (the attacker is still at large). They were asking various questions about his mental state. For Christopher holds a shotgun licence and they wanted to check that he wasn’t about to do anything silly. All of a sudden, it transpired, he was the threat to public order.
Quite! It’s called the path of least resistance, and you can expect the police to take it every time these days.
His story, sadly, is not unusual these days. Rather, it is just another reminder of the gradual but profoundly unsettling decline in our confidence in the authorities to keep us safe.
Respect for the police, once automatic and unquestioned, has given way to a corrosive blend of resignation and pity.
And who’s fault is that? It’s not entirely the usual suspects, is it? Yes, there’s an element of ‘cuts’, but it’s amazing how many officers they can muster at times. Usually times when they know there’s going to be little resistance.
We think it is partly because their numbers are being reduced. It is also because they are run by managerial box-tickers whose overarching concern in any given situation is to not cause offence.
In which case, more bodies in the farces isn’t going to make a blind bit of difference. And will, in fact, make things worse. As they will immediately be sent out to things that aren’t really crimes.
And maybe they won’t even have to leave the office!
An increased police presence — both on the streets and in cyberspace — must surely be part of the solution. Equally important, though, is the need for a change in police culture, particularly at the top.
I’d argue it’s actually far more important.
Having taken giant leaps in its attempts to shake off the stigma of ‘institutional racism’, police chiefs have shifted to a default position of institutional cringe. They now place being liked over and above being feared.
And as a consequence, they aren’t feared. As we can all see.