My concerns that the professionalisation of journalism has led to the media loosing understanding of large parts of the community it should serve, must now extend to the police.
Tom Winsor, the former rail regulator who has turned his attention to policing, uses the term “blue collar” in a way which is symptomatic of attitudes to manufacturing, the decline of which we are all regretting now.
His report is an epitome of middle classes converting skilled work into “professions” with qualifications which ensure their own children get the jobs.
This is what he says in in the final report of his review of police pay and conditions:
For too long, policing has been unfairly regarded by many as an occupation of an intellectually largely undemanding nature, with more in common with blue-collar work for skilled manual workers who clock in and out. The roots of policing are firmly in such an environment, and for many decades that is what it was. Policing today is entirely different, and yet so much of its ethos is of the past. The attitudes of some police officers today remain fastened in that mindset. It holds them back, and it reinforces or corroborates the lower social and professional standing with which too many people wrongly associate policing and police officers. If policing is to become the profession which it deservedly should, police officers must come to think of themselves not as the blue-coated workers of the past, but the practitioners of a profession which requires skills and attitudes which are distinctly above those of factory workers. Policing should be a career and a vocation which is attractive to the brightest and the best in our society, as well as the people of considerable quality who are already part of it.
It is the most outrageously snobbish thing I have read in a long time. It is elitist, reeking of prejudice against making things. If it was not so clearly prejudiced, it would be deeply insulting to many fine people working in the police now.
Of course, the police need very well educated people to deal with very sophisticated and intelligent criminals but they also have to be in touch with the communities it polices by consent.
The increasingly national police force does need reform but not change which will make it more remote from the unemployed of Newcastle and the girl on the 37 bus through Clapham.
Perhaps we need to look at the idea of having national or provincial police forces for serious matters and local forces for day-to-day matters. That is the way they do it in many countries and it has the benefit of ensuring there are policemen who know their communities very well.
All the national newspapers have reports of Widsor’s report. The Guardian’s is here.