Police show dissatisfaction with the CJB, and their expected role in implementing it
Squall 8, Autumn 1994, pg. 16.
It’s not often that members of the British police force go on the record with their political opinions, so when they do it is worthy of note. The Criminal Justice Bill has provoked such statements, clearly demonstrating their dissatisfaction with the legislation, their role in implementing it and its implications for our society.
What The Police Say
CHIEF CONSTABLE DAVID WILMOT (Greater Manchester Police), speaking on behalf of the Association of Chief Police Officers (ACPO):
“This legislation is likely to bring police officers into more frequent conflict with this section of the community ultimately resulting, once again, in a further drain on stretched resources.
“Legislation is not the total answer to this problem, as I feel all it may achieve is to pass the problem on more frequently. All it achieves is to virtually criminalise anyone who has a travelling way of life and lives in a caravan.
“I must reinforce what I have said previously that many of the problems presented by New Age Travellers, Ravers, Hunt Saboteurs, Squatters and such like cannot be solved by legislation alone, nor by police action following the enactment of that legislation. Many of the problems have much deeper roots and wider implications. It is for other agencies to play their part, as society seeks to address the more long term solutions to the social problems which we all face.
“I am concerned that the procedures, as set out [clauses on squatting], do not require the applicant to firstly explore all other avenues of civil action available, such as the use of bailiffs, before they turn up at the police station. I am quite sure that most applicants with the necessary papers confronted by an occupant who says ‘no’ to a requirement to leave, will make straight for a police station. Whilst I fully appreciate that the powers are discretionary, there will be considerable pressure on the police to deliver what is in essence a civil law enforcement procedure.”
POLICE REVIEW JOURNAL:
“The proposals to deal with mass gatherings and countryside ‘raves’ seem, at best, to be a knee-jerk reaction to the Government’s wish to be seen to be doing something about this year’s problem. At worst they can be construed as direct discrimination against a minority.”
CHIEF SUPERINTENDENT ALAN MARLOWE (Bedfordshire Police):
“The police do not want to be in a position where there is a total blanket ban and opposition to raves of all forms, because you could find yourself alienating a lot of people and having illegal events springing up and sooner or later you are going to be forced into a concession.
“I think we have to acknowledge that raves are a fact of youth subculture at the present time.... It’s a popularity which has to be managed in some way. And I would urge people to take a realistic view, and suggest to them that perhaps if there’s some way in which there could be a degree of tolerance, that proper people could be licensed for the conduct of raves, then the trade-off might be more positive in the long term than a total ban.”
SGT MIKE RENNET - Chairman of the Metropolitan Police Federation:
“I can see police involved in the forcible eviction from premises and those premises remaining empty, boarded up and people saying: ‘was it necessary?’ I can see the problem of making criminals of people who are desperate to get their lives back in balance, someone who has been made redundant, someone who squats in premises - who pays for gas, electricity and water. Along comes a policeman and evicts them. That’s not what I joined the police force for and I don’t think a lot of people did.”
TONY JUDGE - Spokesman for the Police Federation:
“We can envisage all kinds of grave problems. The police do not wish to become the lead agency in de-squatting.”
For more articles about the Criminal Justice Act and Public Order Act 1994 - covering the build-up, the resistance, the consequences, plus commentary of discussions in the House of Commons about it click here.