Without fear or favour

The police have traded impartiality for the praise of special interest groups

Artillery Row

Believe it or not, there was a time long ago when, if someone wanted to kill me, all they would have to do was persuade a doctor to tell me I was dying, and, regardless of being entirely asymptomatic, I would have dutifully retired to bed with a packet of hobnobs and expired. Similarly, had a police officer appeared at my place of work to check my thinking, as PC Gul of Humberside Police did two years ago, I would have summoned him a coffee, reclined on the couch, and surrendered my thought life to an intimate pat down in search of unconscious bias.

In both cases, the doctor and the cop would have achieved their aim, not on the merits of their insights, but on the basis of the power derived from their positions. It is for this reason that doctors are bound over by the Hippocratic oath (I will abstain from harming any man) and the police are sworn to serve with fairness, integrity, diligence and impartiality, according equal respect to all people. Or, to use the popular shorthand, to serve without fear or favour. 

The problem with serving without fear or favour is much like the problem of trying to prove that you are human to an algorithm which thinks that the essence of humanity is to be able to read wonky writing and identify all the squares with a zebra crossing. It sounds simple but isn’t. Acting impartially and affording equal respect to all people is particularly troublesome for a police force which has one eye on the law, one eye on human rights, and yet another eye on their value as defined by organisations such as Stonewall UK. Stonewall’s diversity programme (£2500 p/a to enter) moves police forces up and down its Champions League as per the amount of virtue shining from the helmet of The Chief Constable. Rainbow epaulettes? A Trans flag fluttering high above HQ? Back of the net. The idea that police forces aren’t paying attention to this stuff – to the things they are jumping through publicity hoops to be seen to comply with – is for the birds. And that compliance has real world consequences, beyond empty marketing, for how the police enforce the law.

West Midlands police would rather have the Head of Values from W1A than three new bobbies on the beat

Despite concerns expressed by a recent Justice Inspectorate assessment which found West Midlands Police to have a poor record in crime reporting and protecting vulnerable people, it is  currently advertising a post with the pitch perfect parody title of ‘Assistant Director of Fairness and Belonging.’ The successful candidate (a forward thinker, capable of delivering a first class service) will command a starting salary of £74,340 per annum. In other words, the Chief Constable of West Midlands would rather have the equivalent of Hugh Bonneville’s Head of Values in the satirical nightmare, W1A, than three new bobbies tasked with recording crime and protecting those most at risk. And, note, this is an Assistant position. One boggles at what the salary might be of the  actual Director of Fairness and Belonging.

What end is served by such an expensive plethora of ridiculous, PC and inherently politicised posts? The Equality Act is accessible law, not fluid dynamics or string theory, meaning we should all just crack on with obeying it. Like we do all those other laws the police enforce. The idea that cops, of all people, require legal baby-sitting is too absurd to be credible. Or if it is credible, why only in this one, archly doctrinaire, area?. But of course, posts such as this have nothing to do with legal compliance – or even just making the laws we have, for good or ill, be better policed – and everything to do with appointing a virtue signalling, spin-doctor apparatchik whose role it is to camouflage police political activism, hiding it in the open through such unchallengeable terms as diversity, equality, progress and human rights. These roles are handmaidens to the bureaucratic games ambitious senior coppers play, and know how to play (it’s why and how they become senior coppers). Being seen to create and fill such roles is half the game for the people inventing these jobs with public money.

Since 2002, the nebulous commitment to upholding human rights has formed part of a constable’s duty

Since 2002, the nebulous commitment to upholding human rights has formed part of a constable’s duty, alongside upholding the law and keeping the peace. Fair Cop, together with Laurence Fox of the Reclaim Party, will seek to repeal the dangerous, ill-defined, 2002 Police Act, which opened a door to this nonsense.  The only human rights which the police have any business enforcing are those which have been adopted into UK law. According to Amnesty International, preferred pronouns are a human right, and the Assistant Chief Constable of Cheshire, agrees. The law should not be the accidental outcome of how an ACC wants to show off to a Guardian reading friend. The Police Act is fundamentally flawed and needs to be got rid of.

My organisation, Fair Cop, has recently struggled with the concept of operating without fear or favour, as well meaning (and some not so well meaning) voices have urged us to consider our reputation, and the collateral damage potentially done to it by association and proximity to those regarded less favourably. The temptation to court acceptance from those we admire is very real, as is the fear of public disassociation.  Pressure to conform presents like this: “If you associate with (fill in the blank – Toby Young/The Daily Mail/Russia Today/The Christian Institute etc) then we will have no choice but to publicly distance ourselves from you.”  The friendly tones of the mafia warning us we wouldn’t want to do any foolish, in case something unfortunate were to happen to us, and that we should instead continue to pay our moral protection money are very screechingly audible.

Let’s be honest: it is frightening and depressing to be shunned by those we admire. But such is the price one must pay if operating without fear or favour is be anything other than an empty slogan.  If the police are too preoccupied with atoning for the sins of the past (think Stephen Lawrence and the MacPherson Report) then private organisations like Fair Cop have to try and do the right thing – goodness knows, the outgoing slate of PCCs hasn’t tried to ensure that their forces will do just this. The public need a police service to operate without fear or favour. And, right now, the police service needs Fair Cop if that’s ever going to happen.

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