David Cameron has requested the Metropolitan Police to join the search for Madeleine McCann and the Home Office is to give the Met a few million pounds to pay for it. Earlier in the year this same David Cameron agreed to cut the budget for the work of tracing missing children by concentrating activities in a police Missing Children Unit. Most children who go missing, as defined by this unit as four days or more, are recovered quickly but large numbers are not. In the three and a half years since Maddie went missing some 400 children went missing according to independent studies. Many of these were recovered, exactly how many is difficult to estimate, but it may be that something like 200 were not. Most of these children have distraught families searching for them. These families are often of modest income but, nevertheless, they consume their savings and time in desperate efforts to find their children. Many of these parents were not careless in the care of their children. Their disappearences were not as a result of their carelessness but as a result of factors outside their control . The McCanns were careless of their children. They took a holiday in a busy resort with other adults and put their wishes to have a good time before the guardianship of their children. I suspect that many adults with children would take a different view and arrange their holidays so that adults were with their children after lights out. The McCanns made a grievous decision not to do this. In this they put themselves before the interests of their young children. If we were to ignore all that the gravaman of the issue would remain to be addressed. What makes the McCanns so special? In a time of austerity and budget cutting why put Maddie’s interest before hundreds of other unnamed but grieved missing children. Of course the McCanns are a literate and well-organised professional couple who have been able to articulate their search, attract private funds, and promote their cause in a variety of media. And good luck to them, says I, and so would any caring adult. But what about the others, all those other grieving parents most of whom lack the persuasiveness of the McCanns? Is David Cameron going to take up their causes? Will the Government seek the extra funds to take up their cases? Where does the police manpower come from to undertake special searches on their behalf? Perhaps I have got this all wrong.Who cares about fairness, equity, money and police time?
But hold on. What about the strategic independence of British police and all that? Can the Home Office direct the Met to alter police priorites by writing a letter to them. The squeemish among us would think this was political inteference with the police at the populist whim of the Prime Minister. They would be right. David Cameron doesn’t care much for the niceities of public life. What a coup, what a stunt, imagine the headlines. If Cameron stopped his whirlygig for but a moment, he might ask himself the question of what these other grieving parents will think when they read the press headlines? Lord, good lord, save us from this man.