A report by the right-leaning think tank Civitas states that police are now targeting small offences, and hence going after what the Telegraph dubs “middle class” folk, in a bid to meet UK government targets. As a result, more serious crimes, such as the recent spate of knife crimes, are not getting so much attention.
This is perhaps unsurprising. It is not just the obsession with targets that is causing this development. More profoundly, the police, as “public servants”, have few incentives to deliver what their paymasters – us – want. One of the arguments I hear for privatising the police is that it would force coppers to become rather more focused on dealing with serious crimes that have so alarmed the public in recent years. I read somewhere that there are now many more private sector security guards employed in the UK than there are police officers, although I cannot find the source. This is perhaps an example of the private sector reacting to meet a need. If this sort of trend continues, we can expect the growth of private security to continue.
My recent experience of being randomly searched under terrorism laws while driving out of London has certainly convinced me that the priorities of our police are seriously out of kilter with actual crime.