Professor David Rosen write: 2020: Law and Order: A hypothetical dystopia
Some of what I am about to write, is fiction, some is theory, and some may become a reality. Can you pick out what is fact, and what is fiction for the future?
Son, let me tell you about the dearth of one of the last great British institutions: the British Police Force.
The Police Service we have today is not how it was, with H5, and Tescburys Police Steward service, and Martial Law imposed by the United States Army European Sector in England.
Many years ago, a man called Sir Robert Peel established the Metropolitan Police Force in London. Those men of honesty and integrity, became known in London as Bobbies.
They were members of the public, for the public, to give weight and to uphold those duties to be followed by all citizens, in the interests of community, welfare and existence.
10 Peelian principles were established, but over time, and a desire by a variety of Governments to treat the Police without humanity as cannon fodder, and cut costs, treating them as a luxury service, rather than as a necessity, their role changed to tourist attractions most prevalent ceremonially during the Olympic Games 2012 and the Queen’s Jubilee. They became fewer in number, as the Multi-National food chains saw a gap in the market to supply stewarding services in place of the Police.
At first, there was much sympathy with the public. Then it began…the changes were subtle at first. Crimes that were crimes, became non-crimes.
Those crimes had to be ignored by the Police because they were no longer relevant to job-security, prospects of promotion, or Government statistics to illustrate to the ignorant public that crime went down. Son, crime levels never went down. Definitions of statistics changed and figures were manipulated to show a decrease, when the very opposite was true.
Government statistics forced Police forces to fit in with statistics required by the Home Office. It started with parking offences, powers of which were handed over to traffic wardens. Local Councils saw a way of making fast money, by imposing fines on offenders who could not park elsewhere but in restricted areas designed to do nothing other than to catch those wishing to park. Speed cameras generated major revenue for Councils.
Then, burglary became a civil offence in line with trespass and nuisance, and it became a non-offence, as did shop-lifting, and mugging. With the imposition of National Identity Cards, and ubiquitous CCTV, offenders could be located and tracked without the need for Police. That was the theory, anyway.
Drugs categories became degraded to non-offences, whilst smoking was banned entirely.
Alcohol age-limits were lowered on the basis that drink and drugs mellowed Society. Systems were put in place to inject bromide and female hormones into the water supply. People became less-aggressive.
The duty of a Bobby became more defined into specific roles for certain Police Officers. As the World evolved and became more dependant upon Internet buying and selling, the high streets died, and in their place lay a wasteland of empty shops with broken glass. Civil Disorder broke out. Unemployment levels rapidly increased; The Government could no longer afford to pay for benefits, but freely sprayed anti-aggressive air pollutants to provide a haze of happiness to the millions.
Drugs Lords who developed aggression pills to combat passivity and empathy, became powerful, as corruption took over, and our great police forces could only weep in the depths of their subjugation, too weak in numbers and morale to do anything, the system hoist by its own petard, not to criticise itself internally or externally pursuant to Section 41 of the Police Act, or face charges of mutiny.
The Health and Safety Executive became so powerful that competition in schools and elsewhere was banned for fear of injury. Schools became powerless to punish children as did parents, embracing the decades of policy introducing ‘touchy-feely cotton-wool’ initiatives, that we were all winners…The children did not see this as a step forward, but rather a step towards further rebellion and disorder.
Without competition, sports, a sense of pride and belonging, there was empathy, non-competition, emptiness, loneliness.
Teenagers and young adults studied the 8 hour shift-patterns, and waged War on Police Officers’ family and friends with a view to breaking them down morally and mentally.
Morale was low, as Police began to appreciate that after the culling and dearth of their healthy numbers, they were powerless to prevent National disorder. The Army were called in; What was left of them, following cuts, because they too were considered unnecessary, as Great Britain faced its financial realities and Capitalism broke down.
People’s homes became fortresses. Few people walked the streets during the days. Nights were no-go zones anywhere. Without the real Police Force, communities who were not close-knit, broke down. No one cared. Everyone was for themselves. Survival modes took over. No care; No mercy; No manners; No loyalties; No respect for anyone or anything. We just lost our way. We lost sight of social responsibility. There was no one there to uphold the Law…
Is any part of this partial window of dystopia a possibility? I sincerely hope not.
Who are we? Who are our British Police force? What do they stand for? Is it worth protecting? Don’t let the best Police force in the World become a powerless stewarding tourist attraction.
Professor Rosen is a Solicitor-Advocate, Partner and head of Litigation at Darlingtons Solicitors. He is an associate Professor of Law at Brunel University, specialising in Civil,Criminal Fraud and Legal Theory, and a member of the Society of Legal Scholars.