At the moment I am writing a sort of autobiography, provisionally entitled Reflections of an Elephant Man. It started out as a collection of bushveld stories but has meandered a bit to explore various parts of my life.
These include early years as a Cotswold copper in Gloucestershire before returning home to Rhodesia and joining the BSAP. Although I was generally a wee bit bored when serving as a British Bobby, I was proud to have been part of a fine, disciplined and largely honest group of men and women.
Events of the past, Johnson-inspired year have stripped that pride from me I am afraid. Only this week that same Gloucestershire Constabulary send two officers around late at night to issue an official warning to an eighty two year old lady, living in a sheltered housing complex. Her ‘crime’ was to drink tea with three of her neighbours on their communal lawn.
The lady’s daughter, Mrs McGovern – who declined to name her mother in order to protect her from repercussions – said she had enjoyed a socially distanced cup of afternoon tea with three other residents from her complex in Charlton Kings, Gloucestershire on 9th March. She added: ‘I cannot believe the police travelled from Gloucester to Charlton Kings (fifteen miles or so) so late for something so ridiculous. When they were there, they told my mother if it were to happen again, she would be fined.
‘Then they asked her to provide identification so she was rooting around trying to find some. Finally she ended up showing them an out-of-date driving licence as that is all she had.’
Mrs McGovern added that her mother did not deserve the warning from police and had been unreasonably disturbed late in the evening. ‘I made a complaint to the police station. As soon as my mum opened the door the worst things began racing through her mind.’ Mrs McGovern said. ‘I really do not understand why the police thought a few elderly folk drinking tea, socially distanced in a communal garden, is a priority.’
Nor do I and feel that it was outrageously officious behaviour but my view is obviously not shared by the cops. A Gloucestershire Police spokesman said: ‘An officer has spoken to the complainant and an explanation was provided in response to concerns raised. She was content with this and the matter has been resolved.
‘Police received a report of a potential Covid breach on Tuesday 9 March at 1.30pm suspecting that there was a gathering involving people from multiple households in a residential garden in Charlton Kings, Cheltenham. Covid response officers attended later that day at around 9.45pm where some residents were spoken to and given words of advice around current restrictions.
‘Officers are deployed to incidents based on an assessment of the threat, risk and harm of the incident and in this case officers who are part of the Covid response team and are deployed across the county attended later that evening.’
What sort of mealy-mouthed platitude is that dammit and why would any reasonable police officer harry old folk in a residential home at what for them is very late in the evening?
And then we have the events of last Saturday when officers of the Metropolitan Police broke up a peaceful vigil by crowds of women on Clapham Common. Under Covid regulations the vigil should not have been held but pictures and videos of police officers pinning a young woman to the ground during what was a peaceful protest have been beamed round the world on TV and social media.
No one died, fortunately, but I defy anybody to look at those disgusting images without being overwhelmed by a sense of revulsion. What the hell were those coppers thinking? Who authorised this heavy-handed brutality? Does the Commissioner of the Met really think this is a legitimate way for her subordinates to behave?
How on earth did a demonstration by women abhorring violence against women develop into an horrific excuse for gratuitous police violence against women?
Television footage shows a lass called Patsy Stevenson being slammed against a tree before she is forced to the ground and handcuffed. Miss Stevenson was one of an estimated crowd of fifteen hundred largely female demonstrators who had assembled on Clapham Common for a vigil to commemorate the murder of Sarah Everard.
Others were also dragged away in shackles. One officer is seen throwing a punch. Among those who had gathered earlier to pay their respects to Sarah was the Duchess of Cambridge.
Her presence was testament to the depth of feeling, particularly among young women, incited by this horrific killing. So you might have expected the police to handle the event with extra-soft kid gloves. Especially as the man now charged with Sarah’s murder is a serving officer, part of the parliamentary and diplomatic protection squad.
We can argue until the cows come home about whether the protest should have gone ahead while Covid social-distancing restrictions are still in force. As a cynical old toppie I really couldn’t see what the demo was supposed to achieve in practice, particularly as horrific murders such as this are rarer than lunar eclipses and the main suspect was already in custody. London remains a great deal safer than most large cities but I am not sure that I would walk alone through its streets and parks at night.
But the murder of Sarah Everard has released a tsunami of demons normally suppressed by modern young women. These horrors have been allowed to fester during lockdown. Which one of us has not worried that we are going slowly bonkers over the past year?
So if young women, almost all of whom are at no risk from coronavirus, wish to gather on Clapham Common for a candle-lit vigil, let them get on with it for God’s sake. Peaceful protest is an essential safety valve in a supposedly civilised democracy.
So, too, is a democratically accountable police force, made up of citizens in uniform whose first duty should be the preservation of life and the protection of the general public. Every young copper swears to do that in his or her oath of allegiance but sadly, the second part of that bargain seems to have been forgotten. The police now see the public as the enemy, a rabble to be bossed around, beaten up and generally harassed on a daily basis.
I like to believe there are still honest and hard-working young coppers out there, putting their lives on the line to keep us all safe, but they have to answer to an officer class which holds the rest of us in contempt.
They see themselves as our bosses, not our servants. You can’t get on in the modern Plod unless you have been brainwashed by the left-wing army of politically correct senior officers. This involves signing up to all the fashionable theories of life. The result is a police ‘service’ which combines wokery with authoritarianism.
I well remember how Scotland Yard under Ian Blair – a social worker with scrambled egg on his hat – seemed to act as the paramilitary wing of New Labour. Blair now pontificates from the Lords!
These days, it is ten times worse after the disastrous tenure of another since-enobled plod, Bernard Hogan-Howe, who brought his philosophy of ‘total policing’ – based laughably on Johann Cruyff’s 1970s Holland football team – to London.
In theory, it was supposed to mean that all bets were off when it came to tackling organised crime but in practice, it meant that gestapo tactics were used against blameless men and women falsely accused of phone hacking and ‘historic’ sex crimes, with Hyphen-Howe’s stormtroopers ransacking homes and terrorising families.
As Lady Brittan, widow of the shamefully maligned former Home Secretary, Leon Brittan said recently, the Met police ‘lost their moral compass’. Under that hyphenated buffoon it was ground into the dirt.
Then blessed Cressida Dickwell of Dock Green, was supposed to reassure us that this reign of terror was at an end, and we could look forward to a new era of kind and considerate policing. Huh!
Under Dick, the reputation of the Yard has disappeared further down the sewer, submerged in a culture of cronyism and cowardice, coupled with random brutality and institutionalised idiocy. The Met in particular have seized on the Coronabug as yet another stick to terrorise the paying public.
After the Robert Mugabe-style tactics on Clapham Common last Saturday, Dick took a leaf out of her sponsor Mother Teresa’s book and did a disappearing act, later claiming that critics calling for her resignation ‘did not understand the situation.’
A hapless stooge, one of a seemingly unlimited number of deputy assistant, assistant deputy commissioners was sent out to peddle the usual patronising garbage about ‘lessons being learned.’
It turns out that this woman graduated to high office at the Yard via the Parks Police, dealing with litterbugs and flashers. Maybe she would have taken a different approach to the gathering on Clapham Common had she been in charge. Instead, true to form the Met sent in the stormtroopers, trampling over defenceless women. Yet this is the same police ‘service’ which took the knee and ran away from Black Lives Matters thugs.
Oh, and was seen skateboarding and singing alongside a pink yacht in Oxford Circus with Extinction Rebellion anarchists who brought London to a standstill not so long ago.
Scotland Yard is a disgrace as are so many police forces – sorry ‘services’ around the country. But last Saturday surely proved a new low, even for the modern police. Now they have sunk to bashing innocent women protesting violence against women on Clapham Common.
Lucky for them, the Duchess of Cambridge was not handcuffed and dragged off to the Tower, too.
After Saturday night’s casual brutality in Clapham, and while the current rotten regime at the Yard is allowed to continue, Britons certainly have no grounds for sneering at the Minnesota cops for their treatment of the late George Floyd.
Perhaps I will remove details of my early police service from the new book. People might think I am still one of them and I do not want that.