Weaving the Rules
Although superficially, the topic of this open letter to Chief Superintendent Weaver is football played in the street, the underlying issue, and the one we want to address, is law enforcement. The role and the purpose of the police in our society. It just happens that street football has kicked off the issue for us.
The content of this counterbalance piece is mostly based on an article in the Blackpool Evening Gazette of 4 December headed "Game on for Street Football". We accept that information based on newspaper reports may not have the strongest foundations, but we have found the Gazette's direct quotations are usually reliable.
The report speaks of a "pact" being created to allow football to be played on the streets. It says that police and education chiefs want to thrash out a "deal" to allow football on the streets of Blackpool even though it is banned by law, with fines of up to £50 for offenders.
It goes on to say police chiefs want to "strike a balance" between what is "harmless fun" and "anti-social behaviour."
According to the Gazette, Chief Supt. Weaver said
"We are not going to give carte blanche for people to break the law, but we have to apply the law in a sensible and proportionate way. There is a difference between an 11 year old playing football and not causing any harm, and someone or a group being a genuine nuisance."
He concludes his quotation by saying "We need a consistent policy so my officers, the local authority and the public have an understanding of what is a sensible interpretation of the law."
Chief Supt; you should stay quiet on this matter.
It should not be your job to interpret the law.
Your role should be to enforce the law that has been made by those appointed to create and interpret it.
It is no part of your job as a police officer to decide what is, or is not "fun."
Nor for that matter, should it be your job to decide what is, or is not "anti-social." You are not a Judge. So it follows that you should have no locus to "strike a balance."
If we accept
the police as our Judges, we are on a slippery slope to something very unpleasant.
Our court system and our Judges are the institutions that should interpret the law.
Mixing these responsibilities creates a dangerous precedent that ought to be resisted by all concerned with our freedom.
Whilst counterbalance knows that ASBO's and the like are popular with people who are suffering nuisance, and we have sympathy for the plight of those that suffer, this process is not the right way to solve the problem.
We maintain that allowing the police to dole out orders and penalties without the courts being involved, is entirely wrong in principle. It leads our police into confusing, uncharted territory.
It is not the first time we have run across Chief Supt. Weaver's idiosyncratic interpretation of his responsibility.
He has previously told us he would attach a low priority to policing the effects of what is euphemistically called the "night time economy."
Unlike Blackpool's former Supt. Rhodes, and former Chief Supt. (now Assistant Chief Constable) Cunningham, he has said he does not support the idea of recovering the costs of policing the adverse effects of the night time economy from those who create the problems. Long standing readers will remember that counterbalance began life with this topic back in February 2004.
What we see here is the liberal view of policing.
A view that would see our laws demeaned by negotiation, by "deals" done between 'the authorities' - where enforcement of the law is at the discretion of individual chief officers, and where the law itself is brought into disrepute when it is disregarded by both offenders and the police if it doesn't suit their personal view.
It is this same liberalism that withdrew the reassurance of live-in policemen from the streets of our modern suburban wilderness; that would castrate our criminal law; that actively seeks to remove certainty about right and wrong.
It detests personal responsibility and the belief in a shared moral framework for our culture.
It promotes the cause of bureaucratic, car-borne, paramilitary social workers instead of respected law enforcement officers as part of their community, and it encourages the adoption of a frighteningly neutral stance between criminals and householders.
It feigns horror, and reserves its strongest condemnation for people who, when denied enforcement of our common and traditional laws, take the matter into their own hands, together with those who dare to question the new world order the liberal elite would have us adopt.
If you think the law is wrong Chief Supt., then put your case for it to be changed to Parliament; don't bring it into disrepute by ignoring it, doing deals on it, and creating "pacts" to avoid having to enforce it.
You should be helping young people to understand the law, and to respect the order it brings to our society.
They need authority to show clear, fixed, and unchanging boundaries to help develop their own moral compass,
They should be encouraged to recognise their responsibility to society, assisted by your enforcing of the law, not your confusing them into believing that just as you can do a "deal" on street football, they have a right to expect you to negotiate around muggings, theft and assault as well.
If you can't do that, then have the grace to retire early, or move on, and let us have a proper policeman back in charge.
Dated: 8 December 2006