Thursday, November 17, 2005

Sir Ian Blair makes sense


Sir Ian surprised me, along with quite a few others I imagine, by calling for a fresh public debate on policing strategy, in his Dimbleby lecture. Policing here was meant in the broad sense of the word: from the "glamorous" fight against terrorism to the "mundane" battle with anti-social behaviour in all its guises. In short, Sir Ian says that policing is too important to leave it to police chiefs. Too right...

Cynics will argue that this is an exercise in damage control after the disastrous 90 days vote in the Commons or even a bold move to get his head of the chopping block in relation to the shooting of Mr De Menenez and the related inquiry which is likely to be damaging for Sir Ian. I reserve judgement on these points.

I think most of us would welcome such a debate. In Britain we face quite a dilemma. On the one hand we have a unique police force, over 90% unarmed, on the other hand we do face a very serious terrorist threat. I certainly agree with Sir Ian that there is the potential for attacks that would be far more damaging than the tube attacks. Our complex infrastructure of chemical manufacturing, gas transportation and public transport (to name but three potential targets) leaves us open to terrorist scenarios of truly nightmarish proportions.

So we need to balance the need for more effective high-end policing with the fact that we don't want to change our society altogether.

But how such a debate is to be conducted is not very clear: ours is not a direct democracy.

Last but not least, we need to consider one of the most effective (as well as inexpensive) terrorism counter-measures: changing our foreign policy, with regards to the Middle East in general and our presence in Iraq in particular.

Guardian Leader comment.

Keywords:
, , , ,

4 Comments:

At 5:22 PM, Blogger Richard said...

*Last but not least, we need to consider one of the most effective (as well as inexpensive) terrorism counter-measures: changing our foreign policy, with regards to the Middle East in general and our presence in Iraq in particular.

I firmly believe, along with many others, that this should be the first [and most certainly not the last] meassure.

 
At 5:30 PM, Blogger Gert said...

I agree with you. But I haven't got a crystal ball either: it's impossible to say with any degree of certainty that terrorism will cease after we leave Iraq. They may have some "post-dated" punitive actions planned for us and we do need to be prepared for this.

Effective policing is in any case far, far more effective than invading whole countries...

 
At 7:36 PM, Blogger J.UL1R4 said...

I am going to diverge with you on Ian Blair Gert. I remain deeply cynical over his performance and what he was actually trying to achieve yesterday.

As for future 'big terrorim', the problem I have with this is that there really isn't a lot you can do directly, other than spending more money on human intelligence and intel generally. Tying everyone into a biometric database and record of their life from cradle to grave isn't going to help as the ex-MI5 head chief said today.

9/11 provided the launch pad for a whole load of intrusive technologies and politicians don't make any formal separation between them and stopping terror. This leaves Joe Public feeling that if they have x,y, or z and the state gets more and more draconian then they are somehow safer. But this formula is just plain wrong and very very dangerous indeed.

Specifically on policing, I don't know but I do believe passionately that Ian Blair isn't the person to be calling for that debate.

 
At 3:50 PM, Blogger Gert said...

jultra:

Hmm, from your comment I don't see much on which you diverge with me on, except the person of Ian Blair himself. Well, I'm not saying he's the ideal man for moderating the debate, I was merely pointing out that his suggestion that such a debate be held, is one I agree with.

Such a debate would also give you and me the opportunity to point out that when it comes to Islamic terror, there's a lot we can do to avoid it, foreign policy wise.

 

Post a Comment

Links to this post:

Create a Link

<< Home