Wednesday, September 14, 2011
Entrance requirements for entry to British police forces dumbed down to aid minority recruitment
Some police officers are ‘barely literate’ because the educational standards required to join the service are so low, it was claimed last night. Tom Winsor, the lawyer reviewing police conditions, said reading, writing and mathematical skills have fallen ‘significantly’ since the 1930s. He suggested that the public could be at risk if poor academic skills damage the effectiveness of potentially vital evidence.
Mr Winsor said criminal barristers sometimes ‘speak in contemptuous terms’ of the ‘barely literate’ quality of police evidence. While checking and rewriting poor quality paperwork was increasing the cost and bureaucracy of policing.
And in an extraordinary aside, he added that two senior officers told him standards were lowered to help black and ethnic minority recruits. He said the claim was ‘astonishing’ and an ‘insult’ to anyone from such a background who wanted a career in policing.
Speaking to an audience of superintendents in Warwickshire, Mr Winsor said it was unfair to expect overworked prosecutors to correct documents.
Mr Winsor said: ‘Why is the entrance test for a police constable now so low? The educational requirements, why are they so low? ‘We looked at the basic questions, one of which is, 'You find a purse in the street, it contains a £5 note, four 20p pieces and five two pence pieces, how much is in the purse?' ‘That's the standard.
‘We've looked at the educational standards for the police from 1930 and 1946 and I can tell you they are very very significantly harder.
‘It seems to me that public safety is critical and we want the most all-round effective police officers. So I ask again, should it be higher, the entrance standard?’
Mr Winsor has already inflamed tensions between himself and the police in his review of their conditions, recruitment and training.
Home Secretary Theresa May has asked him to look at entry requirements for the police in order to widen the pool of talent for top officers. This could include allowing leaders from other areas of the public sector or industry to directly enter the top ranks.
Police training could also be opened up to universities, colleges and specialist companies in the private sector.
Mr Winsor admitted that many people who are ‘entirely unsuitable to be police officers’ could pass academic test. He said: ‘It takes more than a clever person to be a cop, I get that. It takes maturity, judgment, bravery, the ability to deal with people.
‘Now those are things that need to be tested in other ways. But you also need to be bright - bright enough, because you are part of a criminal justice system.’
Mr Winsor said he was told by a former Met Commissioner and serving national Police Federation officer that standards were lowered to get more diverse applicants. He said: ‘I find that astonishing because if I was of that background I'd be insulted. Is it true, this assumption? It can't be so.’
Asked if police officers have poor standards of literacy, Mrs May replied: ‘That is not what I have found. I have found officers committed and dedicated to getting on with their job. ‘But it is still right for Tom Winsor to look at entry requirements and the possibility of senior entry at higher ranks.’
'Racists' aged THREE: British toddlers among thousands of children accused of bigotry after name-calling
Teachers are branding thousands of children racist or homophobic following playground squabbles. More than 20,000 pupils aged 11 or younger were last year put on record for so-called hate crimes such as using the word ‘gaylord’. Some of them are even from nursery schools where children are no older than three.
One youngster was accused of being racist for calling a boy ‘broccoli head’ and another was said to be homophobic for telling a teacher ‘this work is gay’.
Two primary school children were reported for homophobia after quarrelling over a rubber and calling each other ‘gay’ and ‘lesbian’.
Those youngsters reported for petty offences at nursery classes included four in the London borough of Tower Hamlets and three in Hertfordshire.
Schools are forced to report the language to education authorities, which keep a register of incidents. Although the Department for Education recently pledged to cut unnecessary red tape and bureaucracy, it has given no guidance on such ‘offences’.
In total, 34,000 nursery, primary and secondary pupils were effectively classed as bigots because of anti-bullying rules. The school can keep the pupil’s name and ‘crime’ on file. The record can be passed from primaries to secondaries or when a pupil moves between schools. And if schools are asked for a pupil reference by a future employer or a university, the record could be used as the basis for it, meaning the pettiest of incidents has the potential to blight a child for life.
Figures for the year 2009-10 were obtained under the Freedom of Information Act by the civil liberties group the Manifesto Club.
Adrian Hart, of the Manifesto Club, called for the Government to roll back the policy of hate speech reporting in schools. He said: ‘Children need space to play and to learn the meaning of words, without being reported to the local education authority. ‘These policies are an inappropriate intervention into playground life, and undermine teachers’ ability to set a moral example to children and to teach them right from wrong. ‘There is a world of difference between racist abuse and primary school playground spats.’
The figures show 34,000 racist incidents reported by schools to local education authorities in England and Wales. Of these, 20,000 were at primary schools. Figures for 2008-9 – obtained earlier this year – showed 29,659 reported incidents. Last year, Birmingham City Council had the highest number, with 1,090 racist incidents, followed by 672 in Leeds and 567 in Hertfordshire. In West Berkshire there were just 15.
In the majority of cases, the ‘racist’ spats involved name-calling.
Schools were required by the Labour government in 2002 to monitor and report all racist incidents to their local authority. Teachers must name the alleged perpetrator and victim and spell out the incident and the punishment. Local authority records show the type of incident but not the name of the child involved.
LEAs are expected to monitor the number of incidents, look for patterns and plan measures to tackle any perceived problems. Heads who send in ‘nil’ returns are criticised for ‘under-reporting’.
A DfE spokesman said: ‘Parents expect that heads take a very tough line on any poor behaviour and stamp out bullying – that’s why we’re toughening up teachers’ disciplinary powers. ‘It is down to schools themselves to exercise their own common sense and professional judgment about the best way of taking on bullies.’
Burglars? You'll have to sort it out, lazy British police tell oldster in pyjamas who heard neighbour's alarm
A good neighbour who dialled 999 to report burglars ransacking a nearby house was shocked when the police asked him to investigate it for them. Tony Goodeve, 67, called police when he was woken by his neighbour’s burglar alarm in the early hours. But a control room operator told him they needed ‘proof’ of a break-in before they could respond. Mr Goodeve – dressed in his pyjamas and armed only with a torch – refused to scout the back of the five-bedroom property in case he met the crooks.
No police officers attended and the next day he learned that his neighbour’s jewellery box had been stolen.
The father of four, a financial adviser and Neighbourhood Watch co-ordinator from Harpenden, Hertfordshire, said he is livid that police failed to turn up to the crime, which happened at 3.15am on August 20 in a leafy cul-de-sac where homes go for up to £1.5million. ‘I heard the alarm go off and knowing my neighbours were on holiday I shot out into the street in my pyjamas armed with a flashlight and my mobile,’ he said. ‘I dialled 999 but was told that the police would only come out if I could see any signs of a break-in. They told me they needed proof.
'As an OAP I was not prepared to go round the back of a property in the dark and potentially disturb a burglary. I don’t think that is a sensible option for anyone.
‘I was told the police get hundreds of false call-outs after alarms go off, but that is just not good enough. You expect to have a 999 call responded to.
‘I had an argument with the call handler. I explained that I was not prepared to check the back of the property and was told that in that case the police wouldn’t respond.
‘It is dangerous for the police to encourage people to investigate a burglary. You just don’t know what you may walk into, and they could have been armed.
‘There was someone in the house and they took my neighbour’s jewellery box. We could have had someone arrested. I was livid. ‘The next day I went over and found the back window was broken. A very nice police officer came round – but it was too late by then.’
Mr Goodeve has written to Hertfordshire’s Chief Constable Andy Bliss to complain and has referred the incident to the force’s Professional Standards Department. He added: ‘Our Neighbourhood Watch was set up in 1983. It has worked very well, crime rates have dropped dramatically and we have seen our insurance premiums drop. ‘But it relies on police response. I want them to stop this nonsense of asking for proof of a break-in before responding.’
A Hertfordshire Police spokesman said: ‘A complaint has been received about the police response. ‘This is currently being thoroughly investigated. As a result, we will not be able to make a comment on this individual case until the investigation has been completed.’
Using rights to gag free speech
TO be honest, I didn't really think much about "freedom of speech" until I found myself the subject of three "hate speech" complaints in Canada in 2007.
I mean I was philosophically in favour of it, and I'd been consistently opposed to the Dominion's ghastly "human rights" commissions and their equivalents elsewhere my entire adult life, and from time to time when an especially choice example of politically correct enforcement came up I'd whack it around for a column or two.
But I don't think I really understood how advanced the Left's assault on this core Western liberty actually was. In 2008, shortly before my writing was put on trial for "flagrant Islamophobia" in British Columbia, several National Review readers e-mailed from the US to query what the big deal was. C'mon, lighten up, what could some "human rights" pseudo-court do? And I replied that the statutory penalty under the British Columbia "Human Rights" Code was that Maclean's, Canada's biggest-selling news weekly, and by extension any other publication, would be forbidden henceforth to publish anything by me about Islam, Europe, terrorism, demography, welfare, multiculturalism, and various related subjects. And that this prohibition would last forever, and was deemed to have the force of a supreme-court decision. I would in effect be rendered unpublishable in the land of my birth. In theory, if a job opened up for dance critic or gardening correspondent, I could apply for it, although if the Royal Winnipeg Ballet decided to offer Jihad: The Ballet for its Christmas season I'd probably have to recuse myself.
And what I found odd about this was that very few other people found it odd at all. Indeed, the Canadian establishment seems to think it entirely natural that the Canadian state should be in the business of lifetime publication bans, just as the Dutch establishment thinks it entirely natural that the Dutch state should put elected leaders of parliamentary opposition parties on trial for their political platforms, and the French establishment thinks it appropriate for the French state to put novelists on trial for sentiments expressed by fictional characters.
Across almost all the Western world apart from America, the state grows ever more comfortable with micro-regulating public discourse-and, in fact, not-so-public discourse: Lars Hedegaard, head of the Danish Free Press Society, has been tried, been acquitted, had his acquittal overruled, and been convicted of "racism" for some remarks about Islam's treatment of women made (so he thought) in private but taped and released to the world. The Rev. Stephen Boissoin was convicted of the heinous crime of writing a homophobic letter to his local newspaper and was sentenced by Lori Andreachuk, Alberta's "human rights" commissar, to a lifetime prohibition on uttering anything "disparaging" about homosexuality ever again in sermons, in newspapers, on radio-or in private emails. Note that legal concept: not "illegal" or "hateful," but merely "disparaging."
Dale McAlpine, a practicing (wait for it) Christian, was handing out leaflets in the English town of Workington and chit-chatting with shoppers when he was arrested on a "public order" charge by Constable Adams, a gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender community-outreach officer. Mr. McAlpine had been overheard by the officer to observe that homosexuality is a sin. "I'm gay," said Constable Adams. Well, it's still a sin, Mr McAlpine said. So Constable Adams arrested him for causing distress to Constable Adams.
In fairness, I should add that Mr McAlpine was also arrested for causing distress to members of the public more generally, and not just to the aggrieved gay copper. No member of the public actually complained, but, as Constable Adams pointed out, Mr McAlpine was talking "in a loud voice" that might theoretically have been "overheard by others." And we can't have that, can we? So he was fingerprinted, DNA-sampled, and tossed in the cells for seven hours.
In such a climate, time-honored national characteristics are easily extinguished. A generation ago, even Britain's polytechnic Trots and Marxists were sufficiently residually English to feel the industrial-scale snitching by family and friends that went on in Communist Eastern Europe was not quite cricket, old boy. Now England is Little Stasi-on-Avon, a land where, even if you're well out of earshot of the gay-outreach officer, an infelicitous remark in the presence of a co-worker or even co-playmate is more than sufficient.
Fourteen-year-old Codie Stott asked her teacher at Harrop Fold High School whether she could sit with another group to do her science project as in hers the other five pupils spoke Urdu and she didn't understand what they were saying. The teacher called the police, who took her to the station, photographed her, fingerprinted her, took DNA samples, removed her jewelry and shoelaces, put her in a cell for three and a half hours, and questioned her on suspicion of committing a Section Five "racial public-order offence." "An allegation of a serious nature was made concerning a racially motivated remark," declared the headmaster, Antony Edkins. The school would "not stand for racism in any form." In a statement, Greater Manchester Police said they took "hate crime" very seriously, and their treatment of Miss Stott was in line with "normal procedure."
Indeed it was. And that's the problem. When I ran into my troubles up north, a very few principled members of Canada's bien-pensants stood up to argue that the thought police were out of control and the law needed to be reined in. Among them was Keith Martin, a Liberal MP and himself a member of a visible minority-or, as he put it, a "brown guy." For his pains, he and a few other principled liberals were mocked by Warren Kinsella, a spin-doctor for the Liberal party and a chap who fancies himself Canada's James Carville. As Kinsella taunted these lonely defenders of freedom of speech, how did it feel to be on the same side as Steyn . . . and anti-Semites . . . and white supremacists? Eh, eh, how'd ya feel about that, eh?
Mr. Kinsella was subsequently forced to make a groveling apology to "the Chinese community" after making a joke about ordering the cat at his favourite Chinese restaurant in Ottawa: Even the most censorious of politically correct enforcers occasionally forget themselves and accidentally behave like normal human beings. But, before the Chinese cat got his tongue, the Liberal hack was, like so many of his ilk, missing the point: "Free speech" doesn't mean "the brown guy" is on the same side as the "white supremacists." It means he recognizes that the other fellow is entitled to have a side. By contrast, Canada's "human rights" commissions and Britain's gay-outreach officer and Europe's various public prosecutors seem to think there should be only one side of the debate, and they're ever more comfortable in arguing for that quite openly.
Thus, after Anders Breivik gunned down dozens of his fellow Norwegians, just about the only angle on the story that got the Western Left's juices going was the opportunity it afforded to narrow the parameters of public discourse even more. They gleefully fell on his 1500-page "manifesto," wherein he cites me, John Derbyshire, Bernard Lewis, Theodore Dalrymple, and various other names familiar round these parts. He also cites Winston Churchill, Thomas Jefferson, Mahatma Gandhi, Mark Twain, Hans Christian Andersen, and my leftie compatriot Naomi Klein, the "No Logo" gal and a columnist for The Nation in the US and the Guardian in Britain. Just for the record, my name appears four times, Miss Klein's appears four times.
Yet the British, Canadian, Australian, European, and American Lef t- and more than a few likeminded Americans - rose as one to demand restraints on a very narrow sliver of Anders Breivik's remarkably - what's the word? - diverse reading material.
"I cannot understand that you think that it is fine for people to go out and say we should kill all Muslims," sighed Tanya Plibersek, the Australian minister for human services, on a panel discussion, "and that that has no real effect in the world." Because, after all, calling for the killing of all Muslims is what I and Bernard Lewis and Theodore Dalrymple and Naomi Klein and Hans Christian Andersen do all day long.
She was addressing Brendan O'Neill, a beleaguered defender of free speech on a show where the host, the guests, the studio audience, and the post-broadcast tweeters were all lustily in favour of state regulation, and not of human acts but of opinions. And not just for inciters of Norwegian nutters, but for Rupert Murdoch, too. To one degree or another, they were also in favour of the government's taking action to whip the media into line. Into line with what? Well, with the government, presumably. Whether or not they'll get their way Down Under, in London the British state is being actively urged to regulate the content of the press for the first time in four centuries.
How did we get to this state of affairs? When my travails in Canada began, somebody reminded me of an observation by the American writer Heywood Broun: "Everybody favours free speech in the slack moments when no axes are being ground." I think that gets it exactly backwards. It was precisely at the moment when no axes were being ground that the West decided it could afford to forgo free speech. There was a moment 40 or so years ago when it appeared as if all the great questions had been settled: There would be no more Third Reichs, no more fascist regimes, no more anti-Semitism; advanced social democracies were heading inevitably down a one-way sunlit avenue into the peaceable kingdom of multiculturalism; and so it seemed to a certain mindset entirely reasonable to introduce speech codes and thought crimes essentially as a kind of mopping-up operation.
Canada's "human rights" tribunals were originally created to deal with employment and housing discrimination, but Canadians aren't terribly hateful and there wasn't a lot of that, so they advanced to prosecuting "hate speech." It was an illiberal notion harnessed supposedly in the cause of liberalism: A handful of neo-Nazi losers in rented rooms in basements are leaving Xeroxed white-supremacist flyers in payphones? Hey, relax, we'll hunt down the extremist fringe losers and ensure they'll trouble you no further. Just a few recalcitrant knuckledraggers who decline to get with the beat. Don't give 'em a thought. Nothing to see here, folks.
When you accept that the state has the right to criminalise Holocaust denial, you are conceding an awful lot. I don't just mean on the specific point: The Weimar Republic was a veritable proto-Trudeaupia of "hate speech" laws. In the 15 years before the Nazis came to power, there were over 200 prosecutions for "anti-Semitic speech" in Germany - and a fat lot of good it did. But more important than the practical uselessness of such laws is the assumption you're making: You're accepting that the state, in ruling one opinion out of bounds, will be content to stop there.
As is now clear, it isn't. Restrictions on freedom of speech undermine the foundations of justice, including the bedrock principle: equality before the law. When it comes to free expression, Britain, Canada, Australia, and Europe are ever less lands of laws and instead lands of men-and women, straights and gays, Muslims and infidels-whose rights before the law vary according to which combination of these various identity groups they belong to.
Appearing at a Vancouver comedy club, Guy Earle found himself obliged to put down a couple of drunken hecklers. Had he said what he said to me or to Jonah Goldberg, we would have had no legal redress. Alas for him, he said it to two drunken hecklers of the lesbian persuasion, so they accused him of putting them down homophobically and he was fined $15,000. Had John O'Sullivan and Kathryn Lopez chanced to be strolling by the Driftwood Beach Bar on the Isle of Wight when, in the course of oldies night, Simon Ledger performed "Kung Fu Fighting," they would have had no grounds for complaint, even if he'd done the extended dance remix. However, the passersby in question were Chinese, and so Mr Ledger was arrested for racism.
In such a world, words have no agreed meaning. "There were funky Chinamen from funky Chinatown" is legal or illegal according to whosoever happens to hear it. Indeed, in my very favourite example of this kind of thinking, the very same words can be proof of two entirely different hate crimes. Iqbal Sacranie is a Muslim of such exemplary "moderation" he's been knighted by the Queen. The head of the Muslim Council of Britain, Sir Iqbal was interviewed on the BBC and expressed the view that homosexuality was "immoral," was "not acceptable," "spreads disease," and "damaged the very foundations of society." A gay group complained and Sir Iqbal was investigated by Scotland Yard's "community safety unit" for "hate crimes" and "homophobia."
Independently but simultaneously, the magazine of GALHA (the Gay and Lesbian Humanist Association) called Islam a "barmy doctrine" growing "like a canker" and deeply "homophobic." In return, the London Race Hate Crime Forum asked Scotland Yard to investigate GALHA for "Islamophobia."
Got that? If a Muslim says that Islam is opposed to homosexuality, Scotland Yard will investigate him for homophobia; but if a gay says that Islam is opposed to homosexuality, Scotland Yard will investigate him for Islamophobia.
Two men say exactly the same thing and they're investigated for different hate crimes. On the other hand, they could have sung "Kung Fu Fighting" back and forth to each other all day long and it wouldn't have been a crime unless a couple of Chinese passersby walked in the room.
Andrew Bolt, one of Australia's leading columnists, wrote a couple of columns on the theme of identity-group opportunism. He's now been dragged into court and denounced as a "racist". But, if the law confers particular privileges on members of approved identity groups, I believe how we define the criteria for membership of those groups is surely a legitimate subject for public debate.
One of the great strengths of common law has been its general antipathy toward group rights-because the ultimate minority is the individual. The minute you have collective rights, you require dramatically enhanced state power to mediate the hierarchy of different victim groups. In a world of Islamophobic gays, homophobic Muslims, and white blacks, it is tempting to assume the whole racket will collapse under the weight of its own absurdity.
Instead, the law increasingly bends to those who mean it the most. In some of the oldest free societies in the world, the state is not mediating speech in order to assure social tranquility, but rather torturing logic and law and liberty in ever more inane ways in order to accommodate those who might be tempted to express their grievances in non-speechy ways. Consider the case of Elisabeth Sabaditsch-Wolff, a Viennese housewife who has lived in several Muslim countries. She was hauled into an Austrian court for calling Mohammed a pedophile on the grounds that he consummated his marriage when his bride, Aisha, was nine years old. Mrs. Sabbaditsch-Wolff was found guilty and fined 480 euros. The judge's reasoning was fascinating: "Pedophilia is factually incorrect, since paedophilia is a sexual preference which solely or mainly is directed towards children. Nevertheless, it does not apply to Mohammad. He was still married to Aisha when she was 18."
Ah, gotcha. So, under Austrian law, you're not a pedophile if you deflower the kid in fourth grade but keep her around till high school. There's a useful tip if you're planning a hiking holiday in the Alps this fall. Or is this another of those dispensations that is not of universal application?
Western governments have gone far too far down this path already. "The lofty idea of 'the war on racism' is gradually turning into a hideously false ideology," the French philosopher Alain Finkielkraut said in 2005. "And this anti-racism will be for the 21st century what Communism was for the 20th century: a source of violence." Just so. Let us accept for the sake of argument that racism is bad, that homophobia is bad, that Islamophobia is bad, that offensive utterances are bad, that mean-spirited thoughts are bad. So what?
As bad as they are, the government's criminalizing all of them and setting up an enforcement regime in the interests of micro-regulating us into compliance is a thousand times worse. If that's the alternative, give me "Kung Fu Fighting" sung by Mohammed's nine-year-old bride while putting down two lesbian hecklers sending back the Cat of the Day in a Chinese restaurant.
As John Milton wrote in his Areopagitica of 1644, "Give me the liberty to know, to utter, and to argue freely according to conscience, above all liberties."
Or as an ordinary Canadian citizen said to me, after I testified in defense of free speech to the Ontario parliament at Queen's Park, "Give me the right to free speech, and I will use it to claim all my other rights."
Conversely, if you let them take your right to free speech, how are you going to stop them from taking all the others?
Political correctness is most pervasive in universities and colleges but I rarely report the incidents concerned here as I have a separate blog for educational matters.
American "liberals" often deny being Leftists and say that they are very different from the Communist rulers of other countries. The only real difference, however, is how much power they have. In America, their power is limited by democracy. To see what they WOULD be like with more power, look at where they ARE already very powerful: in America's educational system -- particularly in the universities and colleges. They show there the same respect for free-speech and political diversity that Stalin did: None. So look to the colleges to see what the whole country would be like if "liberals" had their way. It would be a dictatorship.
For more postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, GREENIE WATCH, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, GUN WATCH, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, DISSECTING LEFTISM, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL and EYE ON BRITAIN (Note that EYE ON BRITAIN has regular posts on the reality of socialized medicine). My Home Pages are here or here or here or Email me (John Ray) here. For readers in China or for times when blogger.com is playing up, there is a mirror of this site here.