26 April 2007

Wanted: A Little Respect

Since 2002:

  • Five in every six police officers have been assaulted while on duty
  • Assaults against the police have more than doubled
  • Officers in some areas can be attacked at least three times a year
Dixon Of Dock GreenThese statistics, obtained by Conservative MP Grant Shapps under a Freedom of Information Act request, paint a worrying picture and fill in significant missing details in the wider portrait of the ASBO generation that this government has helped to create.

It also heightens the calls made by David Cameron earlier this week for a revolution in responsibility in this country. If even the police have lost the respect of a significant section of society, we clearly have an uphill challenge if we are to restore order to our communities. According to an independent audit published at the start of this year, since coming to power ten years ago, the Government has passed around fifty Home Office Acts of Parliament, yet legislation clearly hasn't helped. Neither is providing the police with the "best possible protective equipment and training," as called for by the chairman of the Police Federation in response to these findings, going to reduce or prevent the problem. And an increase in funding for the police of 21% in real terms between 1997 and 2005 has only confirmed, once again, that throwing money at a problem is not by itself going to deliver results – especially when, to quote the auditors, "questions remain over the value for money that the public is getting from this additional spending." No, the focus of any solution has to be the place where individuals learn their values: Burke's "little platoons" of family and civil society.