by David Webb
I have been amazed at the interventions of a bureaucrat creep called Hugh Orde on the policing of the riots. He is apparently a senior police officer, but one who claims that politicians may not interfere with policing, and that the decision on what methods of riot control to use will be made by police only.
Orde claimed that he was the acknowledged expert as he has ordered water cannon and baton charges in Northern Ireland — but I don’t think many would agree that his results in Northern Ireland were perfect… I would keep quiet about his NI experience if I were he. Unfortunately, the prime minister is minister for the civil service, and the Queen in Council can give whatever orders the PM advises. If it is clear the police are handling things wrong, it would be ridiculous for the PM to do nothing. This bureaucratic approach implies that whatever the police bureaucracy feel like doing, they will do, but that either way it should not be subject to parliamentary supervision.
The role of the police ought to be part of public debate and politics. I am quite sure the PM and the House of Commons ought to be discussing the riots and where the riot control tactics wholly wrong ought to be sacking chief constables. I have grave reservations about the Association of Chief Police Officers making statements to the press designed to cover their own backs – as civil servants they shouldn’t be engaging in spin.
It is not for Hugh Orde to comment in public on policing – he is not an elected politician.