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“Rationing Police Services” – A Shot Across The Bows

Monday, February 20, 2017 6:31
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Sir Bernard Hogan-Howe has delivered himself of the opinion that the Police will need to start “rationing” their services if budget contraints continue.  “Cuts meant police would have to pick and choose more often what they prioritise, and, more controversially, what they will not“, in the Grauniad’s paraphrase.

One’s responses to this range from “statement of the bleed’n obvious“, through to “could be pretty sinister“.

  • All resources are finite and anyone who imagines there isn’t some kind of prioritisation going on, in respect of any service provision, is deliberately kidding themselves.  The NHS gets fairly close to undiscriminating non-prioritisation in the way GPs and A&E are fairly much forced to deal with whatever fetches up in their system.  But after forced entry through the unguarded gate, the patient rapidly gets triaged and filtered and rationed, even if only in ways that are never articulated
  • As BH-H notes, the military and more recently the NHS have forced a bit of recognition of this into the public debate: and maybe the Police should be making matters more explicit in their own manor.  More openness in strategic decision-making has advantages over unaccountable private policy-making, which we all know is what happens
  • I could draw his attention to the situation at a cafe of my acquaintance which, every weekday morning, is home to three and sometimes four patrol-cars’ worth of coppers enjoying an exceptionally leisurely morning coffee-break …


  • How much openness is wise?  It’s one thing for the military to state: we can no longer patrol in the Pacific Ocean; or for the NHS to say we can’t afford this new cancer drug.  But what happens when the Police say: we can’t patrol after midnight?   (Our local force has already unilaterally declared it will not enforce the new 20 mph speed limits the council has imposed.)
  • What happens when ‘rationing’ get really political?  When (say) a mayor with strong community affiliations tells the local police chief that laws he reckons aren’t congenial to his community mustn’t be enforced? 

What do we think?



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