The Police, crime and the liberal ideal. Detection rates fall as police spend rises. There is another way…..


David Davis

And so, we have…….

More police. More body-armour (but not for the soldiers at war.) More helicopters and more computers. “Terrestrial Trunk Radio” (isn’t that just a fancy-sounding dictocrat-type name for a secure dedicated mobile phone network for the fuzz? What was all the fuss about the other year, and why was it so expensive and useless? What are they using now?) More “ersatz” Police, even. And worst of all, four million video cameras, almost as many people as are now on the UK’s State-DNA database. (Or is it 5 million by now? The argument is not changed either way.)

The Police now cost nearly half as much as the (falling) defence budget and they are catching up. In a country with a historically low homicide rate, and which has until recently been a model of liberty and observance of Law, this would be humorously preposterous if it was not both sad and terrifying. We now have the satirical situation of a Police Force behaving like an occupying army in an unthreatened home nation, while underequipped and underpaid soldiers fight real enemies of our civilisation in faraway places. (The rest of the Libertarian Alliance knows that I have always supported Blair’s Iraq and Afghan ventures, the only right decisions in his life, that I have criticized the puller-outers, and I have never failed to be their foe. But the inversion of reality, manifested by increasing Police persecution of, say, motorists who drive fast and well in many kinds of condition, and retaliating householders who shout at evil unsocialised yobs, in a country full of real criminals, is getting ridiculous.)

Let’s do a sum, in pure maths language.

Let the current spend on policing be called “£10 billion”. Let it be assumed to rise at, say, 5% per year in real terms. This is about right. Let the year be 2008. Then, in 2009, the spend will be £10.5 billion.

Let there be assumed to be no taxation load (for policing purposes) on the revenue from corporate and excise taxation. The let all taxaion for policing be assumed to be paid out of personal taxation of incomes. Let the nett number of households that contribute a nett positive tax take to be 12 million (it’s a bit conservative and I don’t know the figures.) So we have to raise 10.5 billion from 12 million households. That’s 10.5E+9 divided by 12E+6, which gives £875 per household in 2009.

Let HM Treasury now instruct the Revenue to stop collecting this amount from households forthwith, and tell households to pay for policing and security themselves.

Let is be assumed that a mean of only one third of households will contribute the whole or part of the £875 that they are not now being mulcted for by the government. This will yield £3.5 billion. (The proportion will rise very quickly after a few weeks as people realise there is no infrastructure in place at all.)

There will be also now hundreds of thousands of unemployed Police personnel. Some will become minicab drivers, which will be useful, or bouncers, but on the whole this will drive down wages in the now-to-expand private security/criminal-arresting/property-protection sector, which can now expand quickly at little cost. Since video cameras have been proved useless at deterring street crimes, they can be taken down and sold for scrap to China, which will yield a few million £.

There will not be a lot of “diversity-awareness” in the new Private security forces. Therefore, the percentage of real criminals actually arrested, charged and put away uncomfortably for various periods, in initially quite insanitary and dangerous conditions, will rise. “Anti-racist” groups, and those others whose interest is not individual liberty of the law-abiding but instead is the destruction of civil British society, will find many difficulties in communicating with the criminals, whon they have hotherto used as sticks with which to beat the rest of us. They will find the “receptionists” who now work in criminal-arresting companies strangely immune to their blandishments.

Additionally, tax-breaks might be offered for (property-owning) householders who agree to take and pay for firearms courses. Guns are no danger at all in proper, trained hands, of those who have something to prpotect such as a family, and in these conditions tend to inspire respect and awe of the weapon and not light-headed use. A sum of say £500 per year tax allownance might be given for keeping a non-repeating, short gun at home, in regulated conditions whereby it is easily available to the householder in an emergency.

Let this legislation be widely publicised. Criminals can read things they need to read, even if they and their socialist probation officers pretend that they can’t. Sorry, but it’s a fact. The strongest motor of crime is the conscious decision to commit one.

Drunk out of skull? Bah, humbug.

“I just lost it…” Bah, humbug.

“He just did my head in”…Bah, humbug.

“He were lookin’ at my girlfriend…” (‘Course he was, prat. I would too. Why d’you think you go with her? Because she dresses like a nun?)

“I was trying to run away…” Bah, humbug.

“I didn’t mean to kill him, I just wanted his i-phone and he resisted and the knife slipped” Bah, humbug (as a barrister, you ought to know better on this one at least, you evil, expensively-educated stalinist prat. But I DO think that you should let a Jury decide, having shed your crocodile-tears for the useless waste-of-space whom you have to defend.)

There are lots of things that an initially ruinous but rapidly-privatizing police service would need to learn and could achieve. but I think the results would be better in the long run, for less waste of resources. the protected would be customers instead of a sociallly-segmented, persecuted or ignored proletariat.

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21 responses to “The Police, crime and the liberal ideal. Detection rates fall as police spend rises. There is another way…..

  1. Dave:

    The widespread availability of inexpensive GPS-equipped wearable miniature user-activated ‘panic alarms’ will revolutionize policing. Just press two buttons simultaneously, and an encrypted radio alert is transmitted to the police service of _your_ choice. You’re their customer, so they have every interest in responding speedily (there will be comparative League Tables).

    The very presence of these alarms will deter real crime. Until then…

    About three years ago,
    i was summarily arrested for “using a firearm in a public place.” I was summarily arrested, manhandled, carted off to a filthy shit-smeared cell for 16 hours, re-arrested twice (once, for ‘owning a prohibited weapon’, given rubbish food and drink, interrogated at 2 o’clock in the morning, and returned home after being bailed to find my collection of weapons taken, and my flat trashed. All this, for using BB guns in my back garden… I have no criminal record.

    I have excellent lawyers, and I wasn’t charged: (I strongly advise people to get a good solicitor _before_ the need arises: as the Chinese proverb says: “Dig the well _before_ you are thirsty.” Always carry their card with you).

    All my property was later returned, impressively labelled “FIREARM MADE SAFE” with straps tying the triggers back, to impress a court. No apology; no explanation. Feeble.

    The previous day, a police front called “Communities Against Guns” had held their first public meeting in Bristol, with two police
    inspectors speaking.

    The day after my arrest, one of those inspectors gave a Press Conference on the subject, stating that “the police had already made six arrests.” Three of them were mine… >:-}

    I now have a Remington ‘Stopatak’ alarm.

    145 decibels of banshee interwoven screaming which makes it impossible to think. And you cannot turn it off without knowing the code.

    The military can sort them out…

    There are Japanese Martial Arts Masters who can throw chopsticks straight through a 3/8″ plywood board across the room. (As
    you may recall, tornadoes, at up to 150 mph, can send wooden splinters deep into telegraph poles). When will hardwood chopsticks be banned? Pencils? Pocket screwdrivers?

    Regards,

    Tony

    “Freedom means doing whatever you damn well please, without harming others.”

    — Barry M. Goldwater

  2. The police would improve considerably if each Chief Constable and his or her deputy were directly elected by the electors in their area, provided certain simple preconditions are met:
    1. Keep the eligibility threshold to stand low;
    2. Tear up all government targets for the performance of constabularies;
    3. End the situation where the police get money from speed cameras.
    Add a fourth condition and then the regular police might even become relatively popular again. Transfer supervision of roads and road traffic to another agency.

  3. When the seconds count, you can rely on the police to respond in minutes.
    This will remain true regardless of who we subcontract our security to, the front line of upholding the law should be the citizenry. We should be allowed to equip ourselves to uphold the peace and defend our own person and property.

  4. Marwan Nusair

    Good points made here. I live in Ohio, so the subject is not as directly relevant to me, but I was educated in the UK and really liked it back in the late sixties. Our crime rates have been dropping while yours have been rising, so you have to wonder why. One reason is that in the mid eighties, 5 states had provisions for allowing law-abiding citizens to carry guns, and since Florida passed it’s law and permit system in 1987 there are now 40 such states (including Vermont and Alaska which don’t even require permits). These laws are so-called “non-discretionary” or “shall issue” laws, which means that a law-abiding citizen with no criminal record or mental health history specified in the law, would automatically be approved with no discretion on the part of the issuing authority. In addition, several states, including my own Ohio just last week (effective in 90 days), passed “Castle Doctrine” laws that place the onus of proof on the state if a person uses deadly or dangerous force to stop an intruder into their home, the home of another to which the person was invited, or their occupied vehicle. The law also prohibits civil lawsuits by the intruders or carjackers afterwards (even if they are not subsequently convicted of anything, as long as the resident or driver was not convicted in relation to the incident).

    The notion that Britain was safe compared to the USA was due to gun control is clearly wrong. Britain didn’t have gun controls until 1920, when a fear of Bolshevik mischief prompted the first gun laws. Britain was safer than America then, and remained so afterwards, whether guns were restricted or not. Your homicide rate, although now shockingly high by your previous standards, are still less than half that of the US (per capita). Unfortunately, your violent crime rate is now higher, so that your odds of being mugged in London are almost twice those of being mugged in New York. Who would have believed that 40 years ago?

    Another factor is longer prison terms for violent offenders, which has a knock-on effect of eventually sending the message and actually requiring not too many more, and in some cases fewer, prisons. This will take time, but the crime rate is lower partially because criminals are in prison and not on the street. Your tax money would be better spent on prison space than on police officers, frankly (or cameras – George Orwell would be proud).

  5. Very good points by Marwan, thank you v mmuch!

  6. Marwan Nusair:

    Always nice to hear from a representative of the Prison-Industrial Complex.

    At over 2 million souls, the US has a bigger percentage of its population incarcerated than any country in the world. This is over TWENTY TIMES the EU average. Are Americans twenty times as criminous as EU residents? (The total number of US people enmeshed in the “Criminal Justice System” is over 5 million).

    Well, no. Over half of US prisoners are there as a product of the so-called “War on Drugs.” Many of the rest would have been better dealt with by means of restitution orders.

    The average life expectancy of a US prisoner is 50 (due to lousy nutrition and poor medical care). The US leads the world in the unfree-ness of its aptly-named “Criminal Justice System” , a cruel and unusual edifice of hideous proportions.

    Interestingly, 25% of the male black American population between 15 and 25 is presently imprisoned (the peak “breeding age”), with young female blacks being rounded up in increasing numbers.

    In the new “Arbeit Macht Frei”, US prisoners are “rented out” to the “private sector” for as little as 25 cents an hour.

    You fail to mention that the “fall” in New York’s crime rate was accomplished by the greater crimes of Giuliani and Bratton in rounding up 880,000 of NY’s poorest inhabitants and kicking them out of the city altogether (often into giant warehouses adapted to warehouse people).

    The US “Criminal Justice System” is so vicious and unsafe that any traveller to that God-forsaken domain is well advised to carry a million bucks’ worth of Legal Expenses Insurance.

    Why you should come here and post on a LIBERTARIAN board is a mystery. By all means stay in Ohio. We don’t need any more “Republican” police-state talk over here.

    Tony Hollick

  7. Tony, are you all right?

  8. By the way, Tony, anybody can post here, provided that the LA is not sued resultantly for libel. I don’t think Marwan’s libelled anybody by writing on here.

  9. Dave:

    Of course I’m all right!

    Here we all are, deprecating this foul government’s move to allow the police to imprison people for 42 days for “questioning” (i.e. long enough to break them), and along comes this half-wit from Ohio advocating more police and more prisons.

    As if this were not bad enough, the Labour government is doing this under pressure from the US Government, just as it has gone along with every other half-witted “GWOT” measure pressed upon them by the present regime in Washington.

    I didn’t tell this “Marwan” half-wit not to post here. I simply registered my disapproval of what he was suggesting. Someone has to.

    Regards,

    Tony

  10. Marwan Nusair

    Tony, I’m sorry that you got so upset by my remarks. I’ve never been called a “half-wit” before, so it’s refreshing.

    I agree that the “war on drugs” is a ghastly idea and that filling prisons with people who are simply indulging in private behaviour is vile. This is not the subject at hand, however. Stiffer criminal penalties (for real crimes, not possession of substances) have helped reduce the crime rate.

    Condemning the holding of suspects for longer periods does not preclude the justice system from imposing stiff penalties on those actually convicted of crimes. In the one case, the suspect is presumed innocent, in the other, found guilty.

    The news about 880,000 people being warehoused is a surprise, and I am unable to find any evidence of it. But no doubt it must be true if you say it.

    One piece of advice: when you lose your temper in an argument, it usually suggests to others that you’ve just realised that you’re wrong.

  11. Marwan,
    Tony is a very good and old friend of mine. We have not seen each other for some years, which is probably an oversight on my part.

    Like me, Tony has very “highly-developed” views. He and I try to be both good libertarians, but we get worked up sometimes.

  12. Marwan Nusair

    David,

    I can certainly appreciate the “highly developed” views, since I hold such views myself. I would call myself a libertarian, in the US Libertarian Party sense, if only they were not isolationist. Otherwise, I agree with Tony’s sentiment about victimless crimes (I assume he would extend his outrage about drug convicts to other victimless crimes) and preventive measures that ensnare innocent people.

    My underlying point is this: Britain, which gave America it’s basic notions of individual liberty, had relied in the past on people being responsible for their own behaviour and for their own defense. All you have to do is read about the Tottenham Outrage at the turn of the 20th century to realise how this has changed (for those who may not be familiar with it, private citizens, some of whom had guns, and some of whom armed their local constables with their guns, chased down violent bank robbers and helped capture and subdue them – imagine that happening today – just Google “Tottenham Outrage for various descriptions).

    Whatever your views about the USA (and I suspect that George W. Bush may the be the object of a lot of disagreement and resentment) the fact is that some states, not all, have now started to swing back to individual responsibility rather than to the nanny-state “safety is as near as you nearest telephone” mentality. It is interesting to see their results, a sort of risk-free experiment for those outside the area.

    In addition, harsher sentences for violent offenders seem to me to be consistent with a libertarian ideal. Liberty is forfeited if you shoot people or knock them over the head for their money or whatever.

    I wholeheartedly agree that at least half of those held in prisons on this side of the pond, on drug convictions, should not be there, and that their offenses should not be offenses in the first place. But that’s a tough one to sell here, inasmuch as people have a hard time imagining what life would be like when the rules are changed. Raising speed limits was hard enough for most. When we worked in the 1990s to institute a permit system for law-abiding people to carry guns here, most people spoke of the bloodbaths that would follow, the murders following every altercation or minor car accident, and so forth. None of that has happened in the 4 years we’ve now had the law in effect, or the 21 years that Florida has had their system in place. In fact, street crime decreases after the law is passed (I guess the thugs have at least some sense of self-preservation).

    Best regards to what must be a relatively small group, as we are here.

  13. Marwan,
    I wish we could even begin to get towards a state of affairs here, where people could have any sort of firearm! (I think air-guns will be banned next.)

  14. Marwan:

    OK, so you’re no half-wit!

    However, you might see a contradiction between advocating more guns and stiffer sentences when US police shoot and otherwise kill great numbers of your fellow-citizens and get off scot-free; while most of the “violent” crimes do not result in any kind of serious injury, and are merely the product of an escalation of legal definitions.

    If you look into their backgrounds, you will find that most US judges are former Prosecutors. Prosecutorial mindsets are much harsher than Defence-oriented mindsets. This when mixed in with a plethora of “pro-police” TV drama and documentaries, and the penchant for politicians to yield to ever-harsher laws and penalties, produces the present police state that is the US.

    Any decent New York civil liberties outfit should be able to fill you in on the mass deportations of the Giuliani/Bratton regime.

    You and I are at least agreed on disapproving of the opoosition to humanitarian intervention we see in the LP.

    What do you see as the future for Nepal?

    Regards,

    Tony

  15. Marwan Nusair

    I know little about Nepal, unfortunately. I have a knee-jerk dislike of any form of dictatorship, of course, and generally distrust “rulers”, and by that I mean anyone who has ruled a country for more than a decade or so. As to the future of any country, I have now become much less eager to predict things since the Berlin wall fell in my lifetime, thereby proving that anything is possible.

    Your point about the harshness of courts and judges, and the prosecutorial mindset, is well taken. However, in most states judges are elected (whether or not this is good or bad a subject for another day) and therefore very mindful of public perceptions, since they usually wish to be re-elected in due course. These perceptions swing from lax and forgiving, as in the late 60s and 70s, to harsh and unforgiving, as now. You only have to see the “3 strikes and you’re out” law in California to see where public opinion has swung. California is one of our most left-wing states, where rehabilitation of criminals is most approved, and where you would have expected less harsh punishments.

    Yet, they passed, by referendum, a law that imposes a mandatory life sentence for any felony that is the 3rd in a similiar series of offenses. So, for example, rob a bank for the third time and you’re locked up for life. This is very harsh indeed, but this approach was decided by popular vote and not by politicians (other than the propoganda and publicity of politicians pushing for passage of the law). In Ohio, where we are supposed to be more neanderthal in our crime & punishment approach, life sentences are reserved for heinous crimes (murder, generally, or violent crimes that make your knees weak) but not simply for repeat offenders. It’s always a bit of a mystery as to what the public thinks over the years.

    Regarding your point that the police kill a lot of people, I can see your point. Bear in minds, however, that the US has always had a completely different crime profile than the UK. In the US, transience has been a way of life, with huge distances between places that allowed people to migrate back and forth and essentially to get lost in the new community. Committing a crime and escaping to the next state, or 2 states over, was relatively easy before the age of communications. A lot of fairly tough-minded characters came to the US over the past two centuries, and a small proportion of them turned out to be criminally inclined. Crime has always been more violent and more prevalent, until recently, whether with guns or otherwise. At a time when Britain had some 600 murders (back in the late sixties) the US had some 10,000, and both these numbers do not include firearms murders (about 60 and 10,000 respectively). At the time the US had about 3 times the population or a bit more, so the 600 should have been around 2000. Instead it was five times higher, and all committed without firearms. So one has to conclude that in the 1960s and 1970s the US was simply more violent, more inclined to murders, than the UK regardless of firearms laws.

    Of course, the firearms murder rate was even more lopsided, perhaps 50 times higher. I contend that the availability of firearms simply influences the murderer’s choice of weapon and not the fact of the murder. If you took knives and forks away people would still eat, although perhaps not as elegantly or conveniently. It’s natural, then, that in a country that has relatively few available firearms, a would-be murderer would use a knife, club, bat, automobile or bare hands to accomplish his task. In a country where firearms are more readily available, a gun may be a convenient choice.

    This is borne out by the decrease in overall murder rate, as well as the slight decrease of the proportion of murders committed with firearms, that has occurred over the last 20 years, in spite of the number of guns having increased.

    I would also add this: don’t underestimate the impact of concealed carrying of firearms. Only about 1 to 3% of citizens typically avail themselves of these permits where they are allowed, but the street criminal has no idea which potential victim may be armed. They are not commandos, and just the suspicion that the victim can hurt or kill the criminal will chill their activities.

    Regarding the “war on drugs”, it should be noted that much of the drop in murders, which is celebrated by the bigger cities, is likely due to the end of the drug turf wars of the eighties, where competing drug dealers routinely shot or stabbed each other until one emerged in charge of the area, or died or went to prison, in any case ending the local war. Once these turfs were established, the killings tapered off. The whole thing could have been avoided if drugs were legal – there are no cigarette wars, for example, nor, since prohibition ended, liquour wars. If you can sell something that should cost $1 for $50 it’s not surprising that criminals want to do it.

    One final question: what do you see regarding public opinion around you? Are people still supportive of more and more restriction, more nannying, more police cameras, and so forth, or has it bottomed out and is there light on the horizon?

    Sorry for the long post – just let me know if it’s bothersome and I’ll keep them short in future. Lots to discuss, though.

  16. Marwan Nusair

    Tony:

    I forgot to ask: can you point me in the direction of information regarding the Guilliani/Bratton activities? Google keeps coming up with stuff on illegal immigrants when I try to find it.

    Regards, Marwan.

  17. Marwan,
    We have no objection to posts and comments being as long as you feel is necessary – so long as they are interesting and relevant! Your good self and Tony both qualify.

    I am also thinking of inviting (some of) the more intellectual members of the regular commentariat to do “guest posts”, on this blog. Say, one such invited post a month, from one guy, as a reward for constructive engagement with others, online here.

    But don’t get killed in the rush yet, chaps, since I have not yet decided upon the rules and the criteria for eligibility!

  18. Marwan:

    Thanks for your interest.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mayoralty_of_Rudy_Giuliani

    This WIKI article should get you started. Remember that evicting nearly a million people from their own city was an _unacknowledged_ policy and activity. But it surely happened. I’ve seen videos of police hunting down poor people living in crevices in the subway system; and film of the enormous warehouses packed wall to wall with rowns of closely-spaced beds. Anyone would go crazy trying to live like that.

    Why do you think the “Matrix” films resonate so profoundly in the USA? It’s because the “American Dream” is an illusion, and the great mass of people have been reduced to a “workforce” (hideous word) whose only value to the society is as a source of work. Wattage… Volts x Amps…

    Regards,

    Tony

  19. Marwan:

    These “Three Strikes and you’re Out” horrors are just part of the “musical chairs” games played by politicians to force problems to go some place else. Wouldn’t you leave, after the second strike?

    The Separation of Powers is a bedrock foundation of the US Constitution. It reserves to the _Courts_ (the Judicial Branch) the power to determine facts and intentions in particular cases, and to assess penalties. The Legislatures have absolutely no right to interfere in these matters.

    I’m a Member of the ACLU. Alas we cannot put everything right all at once. The total destruction of the horrible authoritarian thing presently masquerading as “the Republican Party” would be a great start. Bust it up under the RICO statutes…

    Regards,

    Tony

  20. Marwan Nusair

    Okay, Tony, thanks. I’ve had enough.

    There is a Scottish comedian who hosts a late night TV talk show here in the US, Craig Ferguson. He does a hilarious bit about bloggers with no lives who sit at their keyboards and type “You suck You suck You suck…”

    He also has another bit where he approaches the camera and says “Rrrrremind you of anyone??”

    My idea of a discussion, whether libertarian or communist, requires the participation of people who have a minimum upbringing. This would include not insulting people and calling them names, and being at least reasonably polite.

    I’m glad you no longer think I’m a half-wit, but even if you still did, it is rude and ill-mannered to call people that. Try to remember the things your parents tought you, assuming that they did that.

  21. Marwan:

    A half-wit is simply someone who is unintelligent.

    Someone who lives in a police state visits another police state, and advocates more police powers; more prisons; harsher sentences.

    I would say that’s unintelligent.

    My mother was a fine person. My father was a violent authoritarian. Which ideas would you have me learn? I learned more from reading John Hospers’ excellent work “Human Conduct.”

    I agree that we whould strive to be polite.

    But coming from a police state to advocate a harsher regime her should earn you a sharp rebuke.

    For these are no light matters; but the very way in which life itself is to be lived.

    The USA has treated people in Iraq in the same way as it treats Americans in America. In doing so, it has incurred a dreadful defeat for Western Arms and Western Values. That’s not smart.

    Regards,

    Tony