Wednesday, 23 January 2013

Policing: Less is More

All the parties want to "protect front-line policing", see for example this. It seems that everyone wants more policing. But why?

Crime in the UK has been falling for over ten years.  It’s long been known that this is not primarily due to either policing levels or policing tactics. Many explanations have been suggested but there’s now a growing acceptance (articles in Mother Jones and the Guardian) that the real cause of the decline may be the removal of lead from petrol.

Lead is a poison known to damage children’s brains. It’s not much of a stretch to believe that is causes dyslexia and problems with impulse control – the very problems that underlie much crime.

Of course we’ll need a police force for as long as there is crime; and that’s probably as long as there are human beings. Human society demands a balance between individual initiative, even greed, and social responsibility. We don’t always get this right either as individuals or as societies and when individuals get it wrong we need laws, courts, police and, sometimes, prisons.