Sunday, 14 August 2011

Few lessons from Bill Bratton

"Sunday Supplement" is now part of my regular listening. There has been yet another interesting discussion this morning, on the background to the English riots and to David Cameron's appointment of Bill Bratton as a special adviser. Bill Brereton, the former deputy chief constable of North Wales, who, as a young police officer, had been injured in the Liverpool 8 riots, revealed that Bratton has already been a regular lecturer on police training courses over here. Brereton reckoned that Bratton had little new to impart to our police.

What we can learn from the States, it seems to me, is how gang culture is developing there. This is the model for the perpetrators in England and electronic media increase the pace at which gang leaders exchange information. Local councillors or youth workers on the ground would surely be better instructors than a retired cop.

The policing models are different. But one measure which was taken in New York is applicable over here: the intolerance of all forms of crime, however minor. This in turn requires a more visible police presence on the streets. Of Los Angeles, too, Bratton says: "we realised after a while we had to send in more cops". The appointment of Bratton looks like a PR exercise, but if he publicly advises Cameron to reverse the cuts in police funding, it will have achieved something.

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