Gary's News and views

Gary Streeter MP for South West Devon

Gary writes a weekly article which appears in the Plympton Plymstock and Ivybridge News in South West Devon. The articles are published here.


Thursday, 17 October 2013


I have sometimes been known to moan about the performance of police forces in this country, especially the Metropolitan Police. I do think that something went awry 20 years or so ago in police leadership leaving us with too many risk-adverse politically-correct technophobe forces that leaked like sieves and performed badly.

This seems to be well on the way to being corrected. The necessary changes to all public sector working arrangements and pensions have been a challenge but recent policing trends are positive. Policing is a dangerous and difficult task and it is vital that public respect and confidence are maintained.

The involvement in the tragic Madeleine McCann case is a timely reminder that warts and all the specialist police forces in the United Kingdom are more than a match for other forces throughout Europe and probably the world. The initial investigations by the Portuguese police were obviously bungled. It certainly gives me confidence to see officers from Scotland Yard now exploring fresh evidence.

Paradoxically, it might be technology that has helped put policing in the UK back on the front foot. The advent of DNA analysis and the fact that phone records leave a trace has enabled a new generation of forensic types to be recruited to track down and capture the terrorist and the petty criminal alike. The expansion of Close Circuit TV and the retention of historic footage online rather than on clumsy video tapes have made a real difference. Although criminal masterminds will always try to be one step ahead, it does seem that technology at the moment is giving our law enforcement officers an advantage, however temporary.

This brings into debate the discussions about essential freedoms and the prospect of a Big Brother society, and of course we have to be careful. Over the years I have heard a lot of views on this and have no doubt where the balance of opinion lays in my constituency.
People want to be safe. The vast majority of us have nothing to hide, indeed our lives are sailing close to being boring. They want the police to have every tool that technology allows to catch the mindless idiots who break into our homes, steal from shops and attack others on the street.

This is why confidence in our police officers is crucial. We want them to have powerful weapons to protect us and we need to know we can trust them. We are getting there.

posted by Gary @ 08:47