11 January 2011

Ratcliffe-on-Soar police mole shows why public spending cuts are needed

The bizarre case of the undercover police officer who spent seven years with climate change protestors before his apparent switch of sides and the possibility that he was actually inciting protestors to break the law raises many questions - not just about police tactics and competence.

It is clear that for organisations like the Met police money has been no object on cases like these. The fact that those they were pursuing were generally well meaning people (whether you think they are misguided or not) - who provided no threat of violence - let alone terrorism showed a wasteful lack of prioritisation. One might say the Met had more money than sense.

With lower budgets in the coming years, as the coalition cleans up 13 years of Labour waste and incompetence, one hopes that the public servants like the police will not only be less cavalier with civil liberties but more careful on how they spend our money. Hopefully, the spending cuts will expose the waste, inefficiency and featherbedding of senior public servants that has taken place over the last few years.

Given the vast increases in cash that were ploughed into public services and the small increases in outcomes that resulted, it is clear that spending cuts should not lead to the kind of service cuts that Labour, the unions and sadly some misguided people in the Lib Dems seem happy to scaremonger about.

I'll leave it to the protesters' defence lawyer to sum up:

"Serious questions must be asked relating to the whole policing of this protest, from the use of undercover police officers, to the use of expensive and legally questionable mass pre-emptive arrests, to the use of pre-charge unaccountable bail conditions, to the seemingly arbitrary nature by which the 114 initially arrested were reduced to the final 26 who were eventually charged."


  1. Hmmm... I'm not as optimistic as you. I have a feeling that the police will end up still carrying out these kind of objectively useless activities, probably at the detriment of frontline policing.

  2. Well you may be right. But I'd hope effective Lib Dem representatives might use the opportunity to seek out waste and 'objectively useless activities' as you rather splendidly put it, rather than sit on the sidelines handwringing about cuts.

  3. Has to be said that this style of political "policing" can be dated back to the campaigns against the mining communities under the Tories during the eighties.

    While I agree with your sentiment that this kind of policing has no place in a democratic society I can't see the status quo changing under the current Tory err/LibDem government, whatever the budgets - any more than I can see a government under which at least 25 per cent of ministers (including LibDems) owe their fortunes to the City, are going to change the bonus culture.