The officer is advised not to arrest someone for an offence of this nature – too much paperwork and expense – so instead he asks for the suspects name and address. This information is radioed through to a handler at the police national computer centre who informs the officer that the suspect has got recent convictions for “drugs and violence.” What happens next? You probably assume that the officer would, at the very least, give the suspect, a quick frisk to ensure that he is not carrying a knife or gun. But because of the Human Rights Act and paranoia after the Macpherson Report this is impossible. It would be “stereotyping” to assume that just because someone has broken the law and has a recent conviction for carrying and using a knife that they just might, be in possession of one at tat moment in time.
It would also be a flagrant abuse of a violent drug dealer’s “human rights” to subject him to a frisk simply for committing the act of theft, sorry fare evasion. So in no time at all they are on their way with a smile on their face and a suspicious looking bulge in their jacket pocket.
I know that the above incident is a typical example of how concerns about the “human rights” of known offenders are seen as being more important than the safety of the public because I was the police officer in question on that particular occasion.
After the last spate of knifings and shootings a few months ago the government, to great fanfare, announced a knife and gun amnesty. It was no more than an opportunity for a Minister to be seen to do something and, as the latest round of save murders has shown, it was no more than a pointless gesture.
Young men in inner cities know that they can carry knives and guns with impunity. There is very little chance that they will be stopped or searched, and even if they are, they will probably get off with a caution.
If the government want to tackle knife and gun crime they could start by repealing the Human Rights Act and giving the police the powers to search anyone who is stopped for committing any kind of offence. This could be followed by allowing the police to target known criminals searching them on sight and getting rid of the stop and search forms and all the paperwork which goes with it and has to be completed by any police officer who asks someone to turn out their pockets.
Most importantly of all those found in possession of knives or guns should not walk free with a caution but should face an automatic prison sentence.
If we continue with current policies of hampering the police and extolling the rights of criminals our inner cities will soon start to resemble Johannesburg on a bad night.