The Tory government of the 1980s was aware enough to ensure that the police were on its side. Job security, career progression, early and relatively generous pensions and readily available overtime with increased pay were standard for the men and women in blue in that decade. Further, the police were exempt from true scrutiny: From the brutality of Orgreave to the indifference and incompetence at Hillsborough via systematic racism throughout the country, the police operated without fear of repercussions.
The present Tory government does not favour the police at all. For Cameron, May and friends, the police are civil servants funded via taxation who, like teachers, doctors, nurses, firefighters, social workers, etc., can be treated with contempt, a lack of respect and, ultimately, discarded. As for all civil servants, the Tories abhor the previous job security, career prospects and pensions that the police would have enjoyed. The motivation for the Tories’ contempt is informed partly by the normal ideological Tory opposition to all public services and partly by a contractual necessity to re-direct tax payers’ money into the grasping hands of private security businesses.
The government has concocted countless deals with generous Tory Party donors like G4S and Serco. G4S’s exponential rise to dominate all aspects of public security is extraordinary. Border and immigration staff, public building security (including hospitals), police roles and prison warders have all been replaced, in greater and greater quantity, by G4S staff. The company just wanders in and hoovers up all the available (and necessary) work that would have previously been done by trained, experienced public sector employees, replacing said employees with untrained, inexperienced, un-vetted casual staff who have no job security or work benefits. It is a simple re-direction of taxes away from public sector staff, who are specifically qualified to do vital work, and given away to offshore tax-dodging unaccountable international “security” businesses who have no inclination to ensure that their underpaid employees are up to the job. A sample selection of the results of this reckless contracting out include:
- Death of Jimmy Mubenga, one of many people viciously assaulted when being “deported”
- Shambolic security provision at London Olympics
- Fraudulent claims for use of tagging services for people not being tagged including some who were deceased
- Complicity in illegal activities of occupying Israel forces in Palestine
That is a small sample of the failures and crimes of G4S. But, despite its continuous unrelenting incompetence and unlawful activities, the company keeps getting the work. The tax payers’ money keeps rolling in and heading off to the offshore bank. Of course, it is coincidental that G4S sends a steady stream of donations to the Tory party and it is coincidental that many ex-ministers find themselves with lucrative consultancy posts as lobbyists during and after their political life. Indeed, the world of security contracts, donations and lobbying mirrors the world of the arms industry money-go-round, described here: Arms Industry Welfare.
Consequences of reduction of police capability
Reduction in police numbers affects public safety and the success of criminal prosecutions. A further consequence, yet to be seen extensively, is the inability of the police to manage protests, pickets and similar activities. Militia-style riot police are, currently, sufficient in number to control small groups taking direct action, if isolated or if part of a larger (and behaved) crowd, but the policing of larger organised groups who are unwilling to follow police instructions has not been tested.
The Thatcher government never made the mistake of underestimating the necessity of sufficient crowd-control capacity within the police forces. The government today does not seem to care if the tipping point for police to lose control of political direct action is much lower than is required.
So, we should all seek to behave well. 🙂