This blog is an extended version of a letter I sent to the Daily Telegraph for publication and to GB news. Both ignored it.
I am a member of several private social media groups of retired policemen. I and many of my retired colleagues are becoming increasingly exasperated at the refusal of the current police service to deal with political protest effectively. This is not a new development; it has been going on for nearly a year at least. Black Lives Matters were given a free reign to cause mayhem, disruption and vandalise statues whilst the police stood by and watched. In many cases the police also kneeled before the protesters in submission. This included one Chief Constable who felt the need to make his obeisance in this way. Since then, Extinction Rebellion and other splinter groups they have spawned have further exploited the pathetically weak policing that has been extended to them. The police have facilitated unlawful acts such as blocking roads with boats and allowing property damage under their noses, all whilst the weird people who make up these groups can rely on inaction by those charged with law enforcement. This has now spread to planned blockages of the M25 and has led to a serious crash with serious injury and to delays of an ambulance on an emergency call resulting in long term injury to the patient in the ambulance.
In my day ensuring the free flow of traffic along our roads was a high priority. In the late 1960s and early 1970s, every strategic junction in the city of Liverpool was manned by a police motorcyclist at morning and evening rush hours. Their job was to make sure the traffic flowed freely, and any obstructions were quickly removed. The concept of keeping roads open seems to have been abandoned. Indeed, the police could legitimately be accused of facilitating these unlawful obstructions.
I would contrast the way the police have dealt with these unlawful acts, even offering blockaders water, and ensuring their comfort, with the policing of some anti lockdown and freedom marches. Basically, the police have no patience with these protests and very quickly resort to excessive use of force causing injuries to people not causing any obstruction to traffic and legitimately protesting the governments conduct. It seems that the aim of the protest is a factor in the way the police respond. If you are on the left or a greenie, it seems the police will not just be more tolerant but will probably help you.
Although I am a retired senior officer and spent thirty-two years upholding the law without fear or favour, and yes that included policing the Socialist Workers Party and the National Front, I now think that the police are not fit for purpose and nor is the law appropriate for todays climate. In terms of the blocking of motorways, my advice would be for the police to stay away from such protests and let the motorists deal with them. There seems to be the will for them to do so. I am not suggesting that enraged motorists should commit any crimes, but I don’t believe the law is settled. How can the rights of protesters be put ahead of the rights of road users? The supreme court have declared that blocking of roads is not unlawful for political aims but have ignored the equally relevant rights of the public to go about their lawful business. If any motorist victims subsequently end up in court, I would advise them to elect trial by jury for I cannot see any Jury convicting them. I think the public has a better sense of justice than the police.
The police are rapidly losing public support and are not policing all protests equitably. The government should legislate to overrule the Supreme Court decision that obstruction of the highway is not unlawful when in pursuit of political aims. When will the law-abiding public get the policing to which they are entitled?
More recently the police have been more robust, but the law is proving ineffective. These protesters are being let out on bail after their arrest. That wouldn’t have happened in my day, they would have been kept in custody and appeared the next day with a request for bail conditions that precluded any similar activity or face re-arrest and indefinite custody. If the offenders would not accept these conditions they would not be let out.
There is a quite simple answer, let’s have a return to traditional policing where the law is enforced against the law breakers, without fear or favour.
For Britain would do this. The first step would be to get rid of the current police leadership, they are pathetic.
Retired deputy Chief Constable
For Britain Law and Order spokesman.