Sunday, 17 October 2010

Police, Red Tape, Oversight and Centralisation

The Telegraph reports on a report that is due to be published this week about red tape and the police. Basically they do a lot of form filling and this wastes money. The headline example is the need to fill in a 16-page form in order to look through someone's window.

Two paragraphs worry me. The first is:
All of the paperwork must be approved by a superintendent. Failure to complete it properly could lead to a prosecution collapsing in court when defence lawyers claim surveillance was carried out without authorisation.
Even if the paperwork is completed properly where is the authorisation? A member of the police giving permission for another member of the police to breach my privacy is not authorisation. If a Tesco manager gives permission to a delivery man to start looking through my windows is that authorised?

Where's the judge? Where's the independent oversight? Here's an idea to save on paperwork. If the police want to take some action that a member of the public would not be allowed to do they should first seek permission from a judge. They don't then need to fill in any forms because the court will keep a record of it. This would mean that we have proper oversight of the police at all times. What's more, it sets up the system that would allow for the privatisation of the police force, or at least the detection side of it.

The second thing was this:
The report will conclude that a prime problem is that no single person is responsible for the police nationally, or for overall control of the criminal justice system. 
Yeah, because the obvious way to remove bureaucracy is to add another layer of control on top of what exists.

As a final note, be afraid:
Other main recommendations include allowing officers to use common sense

1 comment:

  1. "Other main recommendations include allowing officers to use common sense"