Law & Order

Another failed policy

A new report published today has shown what we already knew - the government has failed on its drug policy. It seems that the more the government has intervened, the worse the problem has got. "The prices of the principal drugs in Britain have declined for most of the last 10 years and there is no indication that tougher enforcement has succeeded in making drugs less accessible" the reports states. The report put Britain as having the second worse drug problem in Europe. The total value of the UK market for illicit drugs is estimated at £5bn a year. All very depressing stuff.

Money for nothing

The Home Office is right up there with the best at wasting our money. Its Secretary of State has even described it as "not fit for purpose". But that was before tough, no nonsense John Reid got his hands on it and sorted the whole shambles out. Wrong. Despite knowing many years ago that we would be in this situation if nothing was done, our prisons are full. So what does Reid do? He is wasting £5 million a month in payments for emergency accommodation in police cells. Since our prisons became jammed packed last October, tough John has blown £23m on renting out prison cells. A note for the government's forecasters who are about as accurate as Mystic Meg, the overall cost is double the estimated figure given to MPs last year.

Pay up, or I'll send the boys round

And so to the latest attack on motorists and the Government's obsession with giving more power to the least appropriate people. A Department for Transport's feasibility study into "pay as you drive" includes proposals to use debt collectors to chase unpaid fees. And these glorified thugs will have a right to force their way in to your home, no questions asked, and take what they think is worth a few quid. The system barely works at present with crooked or bullying bailiffs only allowed in to premises by consent.

Expensive gimmicks

What is going on in the Treasury? They are ditching plans to promote good behaviour among "young people". The scheme that was to bribe the worst behaved kids on our streets with a £25 gift voucher for good behaviour. Has common sense prevailed over No.11? Have they realised (albeit rather later than one would have hoped for someone who is touted as our next PM) that this was the most ridiculous hair brain idea to come out of their loony policy machine yet? Have they realised that wasting millions of pounds on paying off these so called anti-social youths with a gift voucher was never going to work? No. Of course they haven't.

Understanding the law

Ignorance is no excuse in the eyes of the law. Enforcement of the law (and therefore social order) breaks down if this simple rule is not upheld. Is there not, then, a moral obligation on our legislators, enforcement-agencies, and judiciary to ensure that the law, its interpretation and its application, is reasonably comprehensible, memorable, consistent and capable of compliance by those to whom it applies? In other words, it is only reasonable to expect people to inform themselves of state-sanctioned standards of behaviour and to behave accordingly, if it is reasonably practical for them to do so.

'Allo 'allo 'allo, what's all this then?

Local government have been given £29.5m to train up snooping jobsworths council staff to hand out on the spot £50 fines to evil smokers when the public ban comes in to force on July 1st. The Chartered Institute of Environmental Health has said “Officers [seriously, he called these un-needed drains on tax payers’ money ‘Officers’] do not have to identify themselves when they go into premises and they can film and photograph people to gather evidence.” Creepy.

This is not only a waste of tax payers’ money, but also a little sinister. I do not like the idea of having these people who clearly love and crave a bit of power to be able to hand out £50 on the spot fines to the general public. Hasn’t the experience of countless dodgy traffic wardens told us that you can not trust these types of people with so much power? Policemen and women go through extensive training and are heavily regulated and by and large do a good job – but even after all they go through you still get plenty of stories about corrupt and bent coppers. So why invest so much money and entrust the power hungry to carry out such a narrow and easily abused and corruptible task? There will not be suitable checks and balances on these ‘officers’ and will virtually be a law unto themselves.

Who's actually in charge?

Who exactly is running this country? Reports today suggest no-one is really sure. The “plan” to split the Home Office in to two – one section to fight terrorism and enforce national security, the other as a Ministry of Justice – has been put on hold. Apparently Gordon Brown does not want any changes until the Labour party coronate him in the summer. According to the Guardian – “the issue has been kicked into the long grass until Gordon Brown takes over.”

So Tony Blair is the PM but can not do anything unless Gordon backs it. If Gordon does back it he does not want Tony to take the credit so nothing will get done until Tony is gone. So nothing is getting done. Effectively we do not currently have a Government that can or is actually doing anything. Can I withhold all funding of the government through my taxes on this basis? On the plus side, maybe the government will be forced to kick a few more issues in to the long grass over the coming months.

The Home Office leading by example? Surely not!

The Prison service has been told to find savings of £80 million for each of three financial years from an annual budget of £2 billion. Yes, the same prison service that has been in the headlines recently for being overcrowded and poorly run. Some might say throw more money at it. To me it begs the question, if one of the worst run areas of government can tighten its belt to the tune of £80m a year why can’t the rest of the government’s departments and agencies?

Doing less pays... if you're a policeman

One of the highest priorities, and also the few areas, the Government should be focusing on is law and order and the police force. Policemen and women should all be paid the salary they deserve and not a penny less. However, it seems whatever area of life that falls in to the public sector, you are guaranteed to see money thrown away – and the police force appears to be no different.

More than 8,000 police officers are being paid full salaries to work limited hours with limited duties. It is estimated that it costs £250 million a year. This is a luxury the public sector seems to be able to afford. They just pay out more and more without anyone keeping an eye on whether it is well spent and how it is spent. No one takes an interest to deal with the problem and it will always be someone else's duty to "fix" it.

Assets Recovery Agency to close at cost of £90m

The Assets Recovery Agency, set up four years ago with aim of seizing £60m a year in assets from organised crime, is to be closed. It cost £20m a year to run, yet only seized £4.4m a year. In total, the agency cost the tax payer £90m.
Yet another example of the Government making headlines with being tough on crime, throwing money at the problem, getting negative results and then making a silent retreat hoping no-one has noticed.