Policing by consent for today's city

I like to think I've got a pretty good relationship with Cambridgeshire police, as a candid friend and supporter and I'm now on my fifth Chief Constable. Our local city commanders have come and gone over the years '“ some have been suboptimal but most have been superb - and where they've taken tough decisions, I've backed them up wholeheartedly and where they've let my constituents down, I've called them out: That's my job.

Saturday, 27th August 2016, 1:00 pm
Stewart Jackson MP's Westminster Life column in the Peterborough Telegraph - peterboroughtoday.co.uk

I still think that there’s more progress needed in some areas but progress on crime fighting and community working has immeasurably improved in the last ten years. Our new Police and Crime Commissioner knows that Peterborough is not an “add on” to Cambridge and has different and specific policing needs.

Of course, I would be naturally disposed to the police service as my father and both my brothers have been or are serving police officers – I know the pressures of the job, the stresses and up and downs and the difficulty of putting into action the age-old British concept of “policing by consent” in a troubling, dangerous and often violent world, where our police are asked to be social workers, priests, babysitters, healthcare assistants, etc., as well as enforcers of the law, in a fair and transparent way. It’s hardly their fault that politicians have presided over mass migration and the acute policing challenges that it has visited on the city.

In short, I admire their public service and dedication.

Sign up to our daily newsletter

The i newsletter cut through the noise

So the cockles of my heart were warmed by the front page of this newspaper last week, recording police raids on suspected Class A drug dealers and subsequent arrests: Call me old fashioned but you can never have too many drug dealers doors’ kicked in first thing in the morning – the public like it, it generates a lot of goodwill for the “boys in blue” and it puts the fear of God into the pitiable pond life who spread misery and unhappiness with their illegal and immoral trade. Let’s hope they get the requisite sentences if found guilty and that the police continue to harass and disrupt them and their activities.

So far, so good but for one Telegraph headline this week – that the Constabulary are enhancing their “hate crime” strategy. Really? If that means tackling people who are racist or obnoxious and abusive to people with a different skin colour, religion, sexuality or culture, I’m all for it. Who wouldn’t be? However, if it is distorted into a politically-correct clampdown on free speech and the right of people to openly judge the activities of some so-called vulnerable groups (e.g. a minority of travellers) who behave in an anti-social way or some people disregarding the basic cultural values and social mores of the UK, then I will be less than impressed and will say so. Too often, a “hate crime” can be something the liberal Left disagree with.

Voters elected this Government to protect them and their families not to tell them what they (largely) can’t say, do or think.

Policing IS by consent – that of the law abiding, decent, tax paying majority: the police must be careful to use their powers prudently and with wisdom and common sense, so as not to lose the faith and trust of the public who by and large wish them well.