Public Order Policing is a tricky issue.
One of the opponents in my campaign, Mervyn Barrett, an independent candidate believes that the police are a ‘service and not a force’. I could not disagree more. And the implications of having that force is that at some stage it will be used. Mervyn goes on in the same article ‘Have candidates forgotten the riots of a year ago when people felt so alienated from the police and the authorities?’
Post riots there has been a debate running on public order policing. I have real sympathy with the police on this particular issue; on the one hand they get criticised if they hold back and on the other hand they get criticised when they move in.
I understand why Ian Hanson has raised difficult questions and called on politicians and senior officers to define reasonable force for an officer to use in a riot; I suspect though that it’s not that simple.
In practice it’s very difficult to define reasonable force as every situation is different. From time to time the police may get it wrong. If they get it seriously wrong it’s clear that they should be held to account for that. However what is depressing is the frequency with which people, including the media, will pick over events with the benefit of hindsight and criticise the police.
Police do a tough job, they need support not just from us but also from our politicians. It is highly regrettable that when you get major instances of public disorder there tends to be as much focus on the police management of it as the condemnation and criticism of those engaged in violent and disruptive behaviour.
Whilst not wishing to condone the actions of individual renegade officers, the media and indeed we the public, need to turn that round and show more visible support for the police. Perhaps if we did Ian Hanson would not feel the need to ask the question.
So as you will see the electors in Lincolnshire will have a clear choice of independent candidates, Mr Barrett who believes the police are a service whereas I regard it as a force.