Thursday, February 16, 2012
How political correctness is ruining Britain's police
As corrupt cop Ali Dizaei is finally jailed, an ex-colleague says the Met has been paralysed by fears of being branded racist
The Metropolitan Police continues to stumble from one self-inflicted crisis to another, weakening its ability to fight genuine crime. It is a force that for too long has been gripped by a dangerous cocktail of poor leadership, politically correct dogma, warped priorities and tactical incompetence.
Those flaws have been graphically illustrated by the appalling case of Ali Dizaei, the notoriously corrupt Iranian-born officer who was this week sent back to jail for a second time after his conviction for perverting the course of justice.
Only an organisation obsessed with the creed of diversity and lacking in moral integrity would have allowed a swaggering, criminal bully like Dizaei to rise up its hierarchy and gain a senior position. He should have been drummed out long ago, not constantly rewarded with promotion.
But Dizaei is a symbol of the rot within the top ranks of the Met. Too many senior officers seem to have forgotten that their central duty is to protect the law-abiding British public.
Selfish Instead of taking tough decisions — like challenging Dizaei — they indulge in politicised manoeuvres designed to protect their own backs and further their own careers.
The high command of the Met inhabits a culture where cowardice is dressed up as pragmatism, where a talent for spouting jargon trumps determination to take on the criminals.
The biggest losers from this approach are not just ordinary decent British citizens, but also the constables out on the streets, often doing a heroic, selfless job only to be undermined by their selfish, careerist superiors. It is no exaggeration to say that the Met frontline are lions led by vacillating donkeys.
As a former detective chief superintendent at the Met myself, I have been appalled by the Dizaei saga.
I was actually the borough commander in West London at the time when, in July 2008, he tried to frame an innocent Iraqi businessman, Waad al-Baghdadi, with whom he was engaged in a bitter feud over money. The incident ultimately led to two criminal trials and Dizaei’s conviction this week.
But from the moment Dizaei hauled Mr al-Baghdadi into Hammersmith police station on charges of assault, I had the severest doubts about his tale. This was not just because of the unconvincing nature of his story that al-Baghdadi had attacked him, which turned out to be a pack of lies, but also because of Dizaei’s appalling record of dishonesty, corruption and abuse of office.
Like almost everyone else in the Met, I had always known that he was a wrong ’un. On a superficial level, he could be charming and personable, but his easy manner barely disguised his dark side.
He was a figure of epic venality, ambition and ruthlessness, his entire career geared towards furthering his own interests, regardless of the legality or probity of his methods.
When he joined the Met as a superintendent in 1999, former colleagues in the Thames Valley Police, where he was an officer for more than a decade, warned us to beware, telling us of his enthusiasm for playing the race card to achieve his ends.
But in a climate of hysteria over accusations of ‘institutionalised racism’, the Met’s top brass were desperate to recruit more ethnic minority senior officers.
The warnings from Thames Valley Police were grimly fulfilled. Dizaei was a master at using fears about racism to thwart any challenge to his increasingly aggressive, self-serving conduct. The National Black Police Association, of which Dizaei was president, was his chosen instrument with which to bully and intimidate the Met’s hierarchy. He became a law unto himself. The Met’s terror of taking any action against him made him feel even more invincible.
Even the Independent Police Complaints Commission, normally all too keen on enforcing the politically correct code, urged the Met to discipline Dizaei — but top commanders were too pusillanimous to do so. Most had prospered by avoiding tough decisions. They were not going to risk all by taking on a formidable adversary who loved to smear his critics as racists.
Thanks to their lack of courage, he got away with behaviour that would have led to the sacking of any other Met employee.
So he gained a PhD with a thesis attacking the Met on racism, while in 2007 he wrote an autobiographical book called Not One Of Us, which contained severe criticism of the Met.
Yet instead of being sacked for gross disloyalty, he was promoted. Can you imagine any successful company that would behave in such a pathetic manner towards a senior member of staff making money out of trashing the firm’s reputation?
Fuelled by his invulnerability, Dizaei’s ego was legendary among the rank-and-file. On one occasion he alleged that two constables had damaged his private car. On investigation, it turned out that the damage was inflicted by one of his many mistresses.
Any other officer behaving in that way would have been disciplined or sacked, especially because he had shown such a contemptible lack of respect towards the two constables.
But nothing happened to Dizaei, protected as he was by the shield of spurious anti-racism. On another occasion, he drove into the station and parked so carelessly that he blocked the exit of the emergency response vehicles. Almost immediately, the emergency vehicle was needed.
‘Can you move your car?’ called out the officers, needing to rush to the scene of the incident. ‘You move it,’ replied Dizaei, throwing them the keys and marching brazenly inside.
That was the arrogance of the man. He had no sense of public service, not a shred of decency. He was a brute in uniform, who once threatened to kill the mother of one of his mistresses ‘like a dog’.
But Dizaei was clever enough to exploit the political pressures on the Met for more than a decade.
And, of course, political correctness was to blame for the pusillanimous way the rampaging gangs of looters and vandals — many from ethnic minorities — were dealt with during the riots last summer.
Paralysed by political correctness and accusations of racism, terrified of being accountable for controversial decisions over public order, the Met’s senior officers allowed the mob to control the streets for five days before launching a crackdown.
This is not the police force that the public deserves.
The one great hope is that the Met has a new Commissioner, Bernard Hogan-Howe, who made his name fighting crime on Liverpool’s tough streets. Hogan-Howe’s virtues are that he does not crave adulation from the politicians, always a sign of good judgment, and that he has real experience of operational requirements.
Far too many senior officers in the Met have reached the top without such a background. In fact, the avoidance of tough, frontline responsibilities is often the hallmark of a modern successful career in the Met.
The arrival of Hogan-Howe, combined with the welcome downfall of Ali Dizaei, may put an end to this pattern. And, finally, policing will be governed by the needs of the public instead of politics.
Women prisoners should be allowed out to visit their children, British judge rules
Female prisoners should be allowed temporary release from jail to visit their children, a High Court judge has ruled.
Kenneth Clarke was wrong to try to stop two women prisoners being allowed time out of prison to see their children, said Mrs Justice Lang. She said the Justice Secretary misinterpreted policy and acted in a way which was incompatible with human rights legislation when denying two women 'childcare resettlement leave’.
Mr Clarke 'fettered his discretion’ by applying a blanket policy without considering individual circumstances of prisoners, the judge added. She ruled against Mr Clarke at a High Court hearing in London after two women prisoners challenged decisions not to allow them to take the leave.
She ordered that decisions taken about the two women, who were not identified, must be reconsidered. Lawyers representing Mr Clarke were given seven days to consider an appeal application.
Childcare resettlement leave is a 'type of temporary licence’ available to prisoners who had sole caring responsibility for a child under 16. It enabled prisoners to spend up to three days - plus nights - at home providing certain conditions are met.
The judge pointed out that both men and women prisoners are eligible but the judicial review challenge before her focused exclusively on the position of female prisoners.
The Justice Secretary was entitled to direct prison governors on relevant factors to consider in accordance with rules - although in practice governors take decisions on his behalf, she said.
Mrs Justice Lang heard legal argument from lawyers representing the two women and Mr Clarke at a hearing last month.
The judge said, in a written ruling handed down yesterday: 'In my judgment, the Secretary of State acted unlawfully when reviewing and applying his policy on child resettlement leave.' She said Mr Clarke misinterpreted policy by taking the view that child resettlement leave was only ever intended to be available to prisoners close to release.
He had 'failed to have regard' to Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights - which enshrines a right to respect for private and family life - and acted in a way which was incompatible with Article 8 and with the Human Rights Act.
The judge said Mr Clarke had also fettered his discretion by applying a blanket policy without considering individual circumstances of prisoners. She said she did not consider it was 'unduly onerous' for prison bosses to have proper regard for individual applications for child resettlement leave.
The judge said Mr Clarke should reconsider his decisions on the two women within six weeks but she would consider granting him leave to appeal against her ruling.
Mrs Justice Lang gave details about the two women who mounted the legal challenge but did not identify them. The judge said one woman was given a 10-year sentence after being convicted of conspiring to import cocaine and was a prisoner at Downview jail in Sutton, Surrey. She was the sole carer of three children aged between four and 13, said the judge.
The second woman had been given a 14-year sentence after being convicted of importing cocaine and was also at Downview. She was the sole carer of her 15-year-old daughter, said the judge.
For once, Richard Dawkins is lost for words
Atheists’ arrogance is their Achilles’ heel, as a cringemaking radio performance has proved
By Stephen Pollard
Which of us hasn’t groaned when the Rev Giles Fraser, former canon of St Paul’s, pops up with his Thought for the Day on Radio 4? Dr Fraser is the archetypal 21st-century vicar, as predictably Lefty as he is drearily on-trend. That “former” prefix is because, you’ll recall, he resigned after welcoming the Occupy protesters to his cathedral. And since leaving St Paul’s he has, in a form of caricature made flesh, become a Guardian leader writer. But I take it all back. Giles Fraser, you are now my hero.
In a discussion on the Today programme yesterday, Dr Fraser skewered the atheist campaigner Richard Dawkins so fabulously, so stylishly, and so thoroughly that anti-religion’s high priest was reduced to incoherent mumbling and spluttering.
The two men were debating some new figures produced by Prof Dawkins’s think tank, the Richard Dawkins Foundation for Reason and Science. (A typical Dawkins touch: not just any old Foundation for Reason and Science but the Richard Dawkins Foundation for Reason and Science.) The statistics purport to show that most people who identify themselves as Christian turn out, when questioned on what they actually think, to be “overwhelmingly secular in their attitudes on issues ranging from gay rights to religion in public life”. Dawkins’s conclusion is that these self-identified Christians are “not really Christian at all”.
If you were trying to come up with a definition of misplaced intellectual arrogance, you could not do better than having the planet’s most famous atheist issuing diktats on who does and doesn’t count as a proper Christian. Prof Dawkins then announced, triumphantly, that an “astonishing number [of Christians] couldn’t identify the first book in the New Testament”.
The transcript of the next minute or so only hints at how cringingly, embarrassingly bad it was for Dawkins.
Fraser: Richard, if I said to you what is the full title of The Origin Of Species, I’m sure you could tell me that.
Dawkins: Yes I could.
Fraser: Go on then.
Dawkins: On the Origin of Species…Uh…With, oh, God, On the Origin of Species. There is a sub-title with respect to the preservation of favoured races in the struggle for life.
It was a golden minute of radio. But as well as being hilarious, it was hugely symbolic. In The Daily Telegraph yesterday, Baroness Warsi highlighted the militant secularism on the march in Britain. But as Dr Fraser revealed, the atheist army is led by an embarrassingly feeble general. The arrogance and intolerance of the atheists, exemplified by Prof Dawkins, is their Achilles’ heel.
Last week’s court decision to ban prayers at the start of council meetings is all of a piece. The judge may or may not have got the law right – there will almost certainly be an appeal. But it is the National Secular Society which, in taking its case to court to have its views imposed on the rest of us, is responsible for the ban on Christians praying.
As a Jewish schoolboy, I had to sit through Christian prayers at the end of every assembly. It would not have occurred to me or any other Jew I knew that we should try to stop them praying in front of us. We were a small minority at a school with a large majority of Christians. I simply sat silently, my mind wandering off to other things.
The militant secularists, however, have only one modus operandi – attack. Respect for others’ views seems to be entirely missing from their moral calculus.
They entirely miss the irony of their position. Religious leaders who focus solely on a sectarian appeal to their own followers, and who seek to raise their own standing by diminishing the views of others, end up on the margins of serious debate. And as their noise drowns out the quieter, less confrontational majority, they act against their own religion’s interest.
We all hear about Muslim leaders issuing fatwas against homosexuals, preaching hate and the extermination of the Jews. But who hears of an Imam who is a credit to their religion?
And yet the extremists are merely a flipside of the atheists. Their actions, too, are entirely negative, aimed at winning plaudits from fellow atheists and in the process poisoning the rest of society against them. We wait in vain for a high-profile atheist to acknowledge that we can all learn from some religious leaders, even if we do not share their faith. The past two Chief Rabbis have shown the benefits of a more open approach, reaching beyond one’s own followers. Lord Jakobovits and Lord Sacks have been feted far outside the Jewish community. Neither were ennobled because they were Chief Rabbi; none of their predecessors had been so honoured. Their elevation to the Upper House was because many gentiles regarded them as figures who had something exceptional to contribute to public life. Where is that contribution from atheists? We’ve had nothing but negativity from Richard Dawkins. And he is now, after yesterday’s intellectual savaging, a busted flush.
Young people today are late to the wedding, but want marriage
When Amy Monticello and Jason Tucker got married, it wasn't the passionate act of two people who'd fallen madly in love. It was a far less romantic mix of love, legal protections, and health insurance. They met in graduate school, dated for a while, and began staying over at each other's apartments.
"We were spending so much time together it just seemed silly to pay two rents," says Ms. Monticello. So the two moved in together in 2006, but she says she was wary: "I think I saw living together as a test run, in a way."
Four years later Monticello, age 29, and Mr. Tucker, 30 – both writers who teach at Ithaca College, in Ithaca, N.Y. – chose to marry because it gave their relationship legal certainty and other benefits, like next-of-kin status, community property protection, and the ability to share health insurance.
Much of Monticello's ambivalence about marriage, she says, is the result of her childhood in the 1980s and '90s spent watching her parents and their friends contribute to the highest divorce rates in US history.
That ambivalence is also seen in the whole new world of courtship created by her generation – Millennials or Generation Y generally includes those born between 1980 and 2000. This is the first generation to come of age with social media, instant – even constant – Internet and phone connection, and relaxed pressures to marry early. It is responsible for terms like "hooking up" (nonrelationships known to previous generations as one-night stands) and "friends with benefits" (a sexual relationship without emotional involvement).
While Millennial courtship rituals are distinctly different from those of previous generations, say those who study the scene, survey after survey indicates that Millennials do want to be married, they do want the house in the suburbs and the kids.
But they also want to be careful – they are postponing marriage longer than any generation before them.
"Millennials believe in marriage and lifelong commitment but are also more relaxed about sex, dating, and living together" than their Generation X and boomer parents, says Pamela Smock, a professor of sociology and director of the Population Studies Center at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor.
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.
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