Sunday, 5 December 2010

The streets of Brighton today: police everywhere, justice nowhere?

Today I walked from Kemptown across Brighton to the BBC Sussex studio to take part in a live Politics Show debate about cuts to the police, and proposals to farm out some of the police's responsibilities to charities and other organisations in a bid to save cash.

The irony was remarkable: on the way there I passed at least 20 officers, and saw a gaggle of parked-up vans, doing very little. I think they were there in case there was a repeat of yesterday's protests against tax dodgers.

The phrase: 'police everywhere, justice nowhere' springs to mind.

The cost of the whole operation (given overtime bills and so one) probably topped six figures: certainly enough money to stave off a few of the 1,000+ job losses envisaged at Sussex Police. I wonder how many of the officers involved asked their superior officers whether the level of policing could end up costing them their own jobs?

Yesterday's protests targeted Top Shop to draw attention to the group's owner Tory advisor Sir Philip Green, who, by channelling some of his vast profits through his Monaco-resident wife's accounts, is able to avoid paying UK tax on much of his fortune - and therefore avoid contributing to the police bill in the first place. And the very same police who might end up losing their jobs want to prevent any disruption to his ability to go on doing so! The mind boggles.

I think if the police spend more time and money catching tax dodgers and a little less protecting the rights of the Sir Philip Greens of this world to sell stuff and enhance their personal fortunes it'd be better for all of us - not least the police themselves whose jobs are under threat.

1 comment:

  1. Ben, do you really see police preventing damage to private property, as happened during the student protests in Brighton, as "protecting the rights" of Sir Philip Green and others like him?

    Equally, tax dodging is not necessarily a problem the police can solve- it's more an issue of having loopholes in the system that can be exploited- a problem that parliament has to solve.

    I agree that the police cuts are a serious problem, but I don't think your arguments are sound.