Parallel lines, thin blue edition

I’ve written before about how the general uselessness of the British police has led to vigilantes and private companies filling the void. Now via William of Ockham, this story:

A private police service is mounting the UK’s first private prosecutions for theft and other “minor” crimes because it claims the police have “given up” taking them to court.

The private firm, which provides neighbourhood policing to residents, firms and shops, says it has set up a new prosecution unit after its teams have apprehended shoplifters, pickpockets and drug dealers only to be told by officers called to the scene to release them.

This is how the RSPCA works, I think. It has no actual powers except the ability to bring about private prosecutions (which get rubber-stamped by the courts). I’m interested to see if the courts cooperate in this case; I’m sure the police will be leaning on them not to.

Mr McKelvey claims it could be a “win-win” situation for the police as it would enable them to “allocate resources to crimes that require more police time while at the same time, the shops and residents get an outcome that people want.”

Alas, Mr McKelvey is being rather naive. The last thing the police want is being shown up to be useless by someone else doing their job more effectively. I expect. Let’s see how long this operation lasts before Plod is on TV issuing dark warnings about people “taking the law into their own hands”. Frankly, I’m of this school of community law enforcement.

The former senior Metropolitan police officers who run the My Local Bobby service blame cuts in police numbers which meant officers were reluctant to spend time and valuable resource investigating and prosecuting minor offences.

Unless someone’s been uttering wrongthink on Twitter, in which case the entire force is deployed. I don’t think anyone is buying the “scarce resources” argument any more.


13 thoughts on “Parallel lines, thin blue edition

  1. Mr. McKelvey isn’t being naive at all. He is talking up his business by saying how beneficial it is. The police are not his customers

  2. Private prosecutions are only a partial answer — because the private prosecutors would still be relying for justice on Her Majesty’s Courts and on Her Majesty’s Judiciary, who are likely to side with the miscreant rather than the offended-against citizens. In addition to private prosecutors, there is a need for “private” courts.

    In today’s UK, the obvious recourse would be to Shariah courts — which no politician or bureaucrat would dare to interfere with, for fear of having her invitation to Davos cancelled. And if that means the shoplifter loses a hand — well, it may have the desired outcome of reducing crime.

  3. There is another example of someone “taking the law into their own hands”/Vigilante justice and/or a sweet poetic justice, depending on how you want to look at it.

    It would be termed “giving someone the hamster” on Tyneside (i.e. beating someone so badly that their face swells up and their eyes are reduced to slits so they resemble the aforementioned rodent).

    I think a sincere “Oh dear, how sad, never mind” is appropriate. >};oD

  4. Pingback: Word from the Dark Side – Iran special | SovietMen

  5. “The former senior Metropolitan police officers who run the My Local Bobby service blame cuts in police numbers which meant officers were reluctant to spend time and valuable resource investigating and prosecuting minor offences.”

    I wish people who just go “cuts” would do a steelman and look into whether they can do more with what they’ve got. So, cut the harassment on Twitter, cut the rainbow painting of squad cars for Pride events, look at what small tech investments you can make with a 12-18 month paybacks.

    Like, the police seem to make no use of things like automated video analysis. Crimes like bike theft don’t get investigated because a copper has to sit looking at a screen for hours for when the criminal turns up. But there are various AI tools that can tell you when something has changed, or when a person moves into frame. It doesn’t do the whole job but it could at least give you points to look at.

    And the thing with nicking criminals is that you deter crime. Even if you just give people a caution, that’s has an effect. Something like 50% of people who get a caution don’t commit another crime. There’s kids who just think they won’t get caught. Getting caught changes their behavior.

  6. I bet if we started to use the comments to start promoting polyamory Tim would be back quicker than you could say throuple!

  7. For those that are interested, I’m alive and well. Working from home doesn’t bother me one jot, nor does the lockdown to be honest. It’s not a whole lot different being snowed in on Sakhalin or confined to barracks in Lagos. I’m also flat-out busy at work: my projects are funded and expected to continue, which is good. I hope all my readers both current and former are safe and well.

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