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Home > Politics

Supercops: Armed and Dangerous

23 September 2005

This week Sir Ian Blair addressed the annual conference of the Police Superintendents' Association. He had something new to propose; something radical. Something never seen before on English city streets. A new breed of cop for a new breed of criminal. Essentially, in newspaper-speak, what Blair proposed was a kind of supercop; a supercop with superpowers. Immediately, and typically, the usual liberals and crim-huggers went on the attack, childishly referencing both Judge Dredd and Robocop. Nonsense of course. All Blair wants to do is dispense with the courts and bring in the army. Relax.

'One idea,' he explained, straight-faced, 'is to have some police officers - paid more and with more powers - to impose an interim ASBO, for instance, or suspend a driving licence.' The thing that holds police back, he argued, is that 'the criminal justice system takes so long. We need to make justice more immediately apparent to the offender and the community.' Instant justice - that's the ultimate aim. Blair acknowledged the fact that giving the police powers more commonly associated with magistrates will blur the line between the role of bobbies and beaks, but he's not that fussed. He knows that that'll be nothing compared to the chaos that ensues when the army start roaming the streets with their guns cocked.

The spur for this long-overdue overhaul was of course the July bombings. The police force as it stands simply cannot successfully respond both to terror and to anti-social behaviour. Blair has found to his cost that if you put all your officers in the train stations, the chavs go hog-wild in the 'burbs. Something, therefore, has to change. Blair demands it. As well as extending the powers of community support officers and other currently non-warranted force staffers, his most radical suggestion is that the police should be bolstered by 'bring[ing] staff directly in from the armed services.' Like Rambo. Blair reckons that after 'a small amount of basic training and clear instructions', your average Gulf War vet will be able to step into current firearms officers' shoes with ease. He's most probably right. It'll be like Jean Charles de Menezes never existed at all.

The one light at the end of this otherwise terrifying tunnel is that Blair is fully aware of the potential for an increased abuse of power amongst the authorities that be, and he's dead against it. Knowing his proposals might seem frighteningly overzealous and completely out of control, he insisted that new superpowers should not be granted lightly, and, preferably, 'without turning the place into a police state, which,' he added, 'would be unfortunate'.

Unfortunate indeed. But on the cards.

Be afraid. Sir Ian Blair is a very dangerous man.



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