Tuesday, 23 February 2016
Ready, Fire, Aim! It’s the Kent guncops!
The Kent Police guncops increase is rather peculiar.
Not just the knee-jerk random increase -requested by the Home Office- of all guncops throughout the UK by 50% after the Paris Attacks.
But peculiar in that Kent has no major population centres and few attractions to compare to a Paris-style terror attack.
Peculiar too that the police response to random attacks on a rock concert or newspaper office or café was not criticised and - apart from a cop on every corner - is not preventable.
Peculiar too that Kent Police already has c.80 guncops so one wonders what the extra 37 cops will be doing? Sat in a van tooled up and ready to go somewhere in Kent? An hour’s notice? Or spread out across the existing 21 police stations – so of little extra use?
If anything it’s a vote of no faith by central government in the existing 80 guncops and terrorist policies.
And very peculiar that this 3.4% council tax increase: £5 for every Kent household was rushed through over Xmas with no full council debate – a rather unpleasant and costly swan-song from Ann Barnes, and a peculiar democratic deficit given any increase over 1.99% requires a full public referendum.
The danger is a semi-militarised police force – something most police themselves oppose in creating a criminal arms race of violence. And peculiar too that machine guns and pistols and taser stun guns and pepper spray as well as the truncheon become standard equipment as crime is actually falling and becoming less violent.
Much as the Trident nuclear weapon debate is peculiar in arguing that Britain needs yet more nukes – as the threat of the Cold War of Russia and China, and the East European armies and tanks, has disappeared with many of those enemy troops actually in NATO now.
Perhaps it’s worse for the US taxpayer where their military now outspends all the other militaries put together – over 50% of all arms expenditure, yet 90% of American troops are based in USA far from danger other than yet more budget overspend by what Eisenhower termed the military-industrial complex.
A combination of arms industry corporate welfare and tax bloat and boys with toys that any day could result in a Kent Police tank or BAE missiles for the new guncops.
But rather than Kent guncops perhaps a review of the real dangers of road accidents and appalling 17% of rapes solved statistics or drug dens is more relevant.
And a review of violence against Kent cops is of use in evaluating the real dangers facing both police and public in Kent from terrorism and guns.
So, since WW2 (1949-2011) there have been only 20 deaths of Kent policemen and women on duty.
And of these 20 deaths, 16 were from various road accidents.
The remaining 4 deaths include 2 deaths from deliberate road deaths against the police by motorists.
So that leaves only 2 police deaths from gunshots in 60 years in Kent.
And only one of those was a terrorist incident – but in Cyprus in 1956 by a Kent policeman killed on duty there with UK troops. The other gun death was a crime in Kent but even further back in 1951.
A Cyprus –style, anti-terror role certainly should be more active with UK police contributions to UN Police being beefed up after years of failure for the real terrorism threats in Iraq or Afghanistan or Mali or Sudan, and active policing of failed states such as Bosnia or Sierra Leone or Myanmar.
And the most recent terrorist incident being far from Kent on a plane in Somalia and bomb in Turkey last week.
So that’s one police gunshot crime death in Kent, and one terrorist death in Cyprus - both way back in the early 1950’s. Perhaps the easy availability of guns after WW2 was a factor too.
And presumably only one or two members of the public have been shot in that time by Kent Police guncops?
Indeed since Kent Police records began in 1873 as many police have died on a Kent Police driving course(!) than from gunshots. And many of the 16 road deaths since WW2 strangely include counting policemen killed in accidents while they were driving to work – a danger no more prevalent than that facing any member of the public.
Even in WW2 only 2 Kent Police were killed directly by the Luftwaffe – although a further c.20 were killed in air raids, but again they may not have been on duty, so a danger no more prevalent than the hundreds of civilians also killed in the Kent Blitz.
Indeed police deaths by beatings with their own truncheon, killed by horses or run over by the Royal Train(!) are more dangerous than gunshot wounds - and only 3 police deaths occurred before 1915 prior to the rapid increase in motor cars.
Kent Police are as at risk as the rest of us from car or cycling motorbike accidents, and slightly more by doodlebugs if there is another world war.
They’re not really at risk from terrorism or even bullets.
But democratic accountability is at risk if so easily waived to create a Police Army in the UK of at least 5,000 guncops – plus more with MOD Police and Special Branch and Military Police for all 3 military services – and on top of that the UK’s 120,000 soldiers plus extra navy and RAF troops.
And all that with the regular police already larger than the whole Royal Navy. Perhaps just as well.
Plus the purchase and storage costs for weapons and thousands of hours of training for guncops.
And only 6 shots fired in anger UK by police last year.
Yes. You read that right.
So a random 50% increase in guncops and machine guns – and all the other costs that aren’t yet included in the 3.5% increase -seems rather excessive. And these would require a year or two of training before being available anyway? Or existing cops or troops would be used?
Nobody doubts the day to day bravery - and real dangers - of cops on the beat. But surely the bureaucratic border protection of not having a platoon or two of Ghurkas on reserve for aid to the civil power is outdated.
Outlandish emergencies whether the 2012 Olympics or a Chunnel accident or a Paris-style Attack on the Tenterden church fete don’t outweigh such dubious tax-bloat and scaremongering (who amongst us can work out the bizarre Prevent Terrorism ratings or tune out the constant warnings of doom of lost suitcases).
Even more so, when a whole host of police reforms could be argued to be more useful than guncops – whether that’s removing cars parked on the pavement forcing mums with pushchairs or schoolkids or pensioners into the road, the overall increase to 49 road deaths per year of Kent citizens (double in a year the total Kent police deaths in 60 years so why aren’t the cops urging zero drinkdriving and 20mph laws to safeguard the public rather reaching for a machinegun?) or the 630 extra pensioner deaths each Winter or rash of machete and knife attacks that blight the towns.
Or tightening up mundanities such as guncops wearing visible badge numbers or using the – sensible – 10% reserves of c.£34M per year. Or even considering how cost increases fit with more £3M body cameras and ANPR reg no CCTV, car procurement for 2,000 cars (no doubt requiring more car CCTV for a pub fight, or jailing grannies for their BBC licence that make up 90% of court cases) let alone the cop-glitter of more trousers and shirts and underpants than a Grattan catalogue.
Indeed many of the public may be more in danger of being shagged on a protest by an undercover cop, or being left to die in a ditch by Scotland Police than being shot by a new Bin Laden in Kent.
And none of these are yet subject to democratic scrutiny – more from councillor idleness than Police mendacity. Most Kent criminals are in the council chamber or courts.
But reform is needed with Kent police failure in policing Essex Police and Goldfinger scandal or Surrey Police and the Deepcut scandal (5 bullets in the chest is a suicide for Trooper Benton?)or the GlickGate barrister and lawyer fraud or reform of police rotas and Spanish practices or gold-plated pensions at 50, or a 1:1 Backoffice ratio of a clerk for every cop.
Even the slow rollout and publicity of the 112 number some 20 years after being required.
Or deeper reforms on the availability heroin in Kent’s prison – even without the Most Wanted being nicked – or rafts of prison escapes or bail jumpers. And witness already in Kent 35 guns and semtex seized, or the rampant gun and drug running around Manston or Ostend or Lydd.
And policing costs that could be far more usefully deployed than the EU vanity project of Europol that simply replicates Interpol and only last week manages to issue 15 Most Wanted in Europe along with the new-but-old terrorism centre.
I doubt we’d all sleep more safely in our beds knowing that Europe’s police forces will be chasing a Finnish fraudster on Europol’s list for the sake of having a bit of everything from Europe’s 28 police forces rather than say the real threat of returning Syrian terrorists to Belgium or Britain, and major drugs gangs busts than just a few junkies with penny bags of skunk.
A terrorism knowledge gap as prevalent as say when the fall off the Berlin Wall or 9-11 came as a surprise to the ranks and ranks of military and police.
But even during the IRA Troubles of intensive terrorism in Northern Ireland, Eire, UK, Gibraltar and Germany only 8 Kent Police deaths were recorded between 1967-91, and again all of them were from traffic accidents.
Not one terrorist incident at all in Kent given the full-blown Ulster separatist terrorism crisis – even continuing last week with 2 deaths in Dublin with the Continuity IRA.
And of course both police and public in danger from the drip-drip contamination and corporate manslaughter of Thor mercury and Southern water, and corrupt and incompetent councils over the removal of Infratil’s monitors. Airports such as Manston and Ostend being more of a real terror threat from gunrunning and drugs.
Perhaps no wonder Iran Air felt able to break the international embargo into Manston given the precedence of corruption over the years eg electoral corruption in East Kent (Canterbury not Thanet) in 1880 resulted in the MP being suspended for 5 years and the 1883 Electoral Corruption Act implemented across not just Kent’s Rotten Boroughs but all of UK.
In Police Commissioner election year we need better than Barnes and no more guns on the rates.
Time for Change