A call by a government minister, Kwasi Kwarteng for the return of deference to the police was reported last week, on August 19th. This call followed the death of a young constable while on duty. That call is very understandable just now, but deference has to be earned.
I was recently told of a young man who was clipped by a bus while cycling in London. When the bus stopped the cyclist approached the driver’s cab, and touched the driver’s elbow which was protruding to get the man’s attention and tell him what he had done. The driver managed to grab the cyclist’s rucksack and there followed an altercation. The police arrived promptly and were told by the bus driver that he had been racially abused by the cyclist who was arrested. Not until he had paid a further visit to a police station was he told that the matter of his alleged racial abuse of the driver would not be pursued for lack of evidence. The police took no interest in the possibility that the bus might have been driven carelessly or dangerously. Do you remember grown-up advice about sticks and stones years ago?
Several years ago I was knocked off my bike by a woman turning right across my path from a side road. I drew diagrams for the police, showed them pictures of my bike with its smashed front wheel and of a cheque that the driver had hastily drawn, to preclude my approaching her insurers. The police did along nothing, but one constable did tell me that the woman had complained that I had dented the bonnet of her BMW when I landed on it.
Deference will require a better ordering of priorities.