I am here, as I promised, to tell you of the main features of our bill to make Britain a more liberal society. This issue of liberty has always been the driving force of the Lib Dem party. In a way it is our raison d’etre. Let us take the troublesome issue of the sexual abuse of young children by those who take every opportunity to be near them for their evil purposes. Do we really need 9 million people on a register with hundreds of others involved in processing data to achieve a reasonable level of vigilance? Of course not. Under our proposals there would be only 4.5 million on the register and thus millions of people who are in touch with children on a day to day basis will be excluded and we can all breath more easily. It is the responsibility of parents and teachers to be vigilant. The State should not seek to be an ever present guardian of behaviour. Similarly with our DNA database. It is wrong, as a matter of principle, that peope never found guilty of serious crime should have their genetic information on a large and ever growing database. Here the obsession of our predecessors in seeking to extend, hold and grow a centralised database is unnecessary, and damaging to the peace of mind of millions of citizens. We are going to bring this practice to an end in line with the conduct of liberal societies throughout Europe and the free world.
I am going to answer questions. You sir, with the red tie at the back. You say what price should be paid for the abuse of a child. I don’t understand. I assume you are suggesting that if 4 million people in regular contact with children were excluded from the sexual offences register, more children would be abused? I know of no evidence to suggest that this would be the case. My own opinion? Not more than 100 children. But, sir, it is not the way to look at it. You are suggesting that I am willing to accept that the price of a saving public expenditure of several million is the abuse of more than 100 children a year. Well sir, I suggest that this issue of protection is best left to the governance of parents and teachers. You are wrong to look at it this way.
Another gentleman with a red tie to the left. Your question, sir, is how many previously unsolved serious crimes have been solved by the DNA evidence now available to the police over the last 12 months? An interesting question without a precise answer. sir. The short answer is I do not know. My guess? Well I flatter myself that I am an evidence based politician. If you push me on the issue I would say not more than 30-40. A price worth paying for justice? Look I understamd your point of view but it is not my own. I do not believe in an intrusive nanny State. Full stop. We should be grown up about this. In my opinion we should all be prepared to live dangerously. After all I joined in a Coalition with the Tories. Ha, hah!
Filed under BBC, Cabinet, Cameron, Child abuse, Coalition Government, Conservative Home, DNA database, Economics, Education, George Osborne, Guardian, Labour Blogs, Lib Dem blogs, Lib Dems, Liberal Voice, New Stateman, Nick Clegg, Police, Politics, Schools
I am horrified to learn that my satire on policing has attracted support within the Coalition. Reports suggest that the Government is thinking of just such a scheme as I outlined earlier this month with Voluntary Special Policeman being rewarded with a 50 percent rebate on their Council Tax. This confirms for me that there is no member of the Government with a sense of humour! Let us assume for a moment that the proposal is under serious consideration. What must be properly considered?
I have suggested that there are three important aspects of any National Scheme to get right.
1. Safety. We cannot play fast and loose with the safety of volunteers some who are old and infirm, and after all they who have the most time on their hands must be protected. Do we expect them to arrest burglars or break up teenage riots and group binge drinking on the village green? Of course not. I suggested arm badges, distinctive hats and whistles. Yes, police whistles to summon help and to scare miscreants. But it is well known that there is a national shortage of police whistles and large scale production in China has to be negotiated to make this possible?
2. Disabled people. I have it on good authority is that there is a scheme to get the disabled off their benefit by offering them a financial incentive to become a Special Volunteer Policeman. I pointed out that you cannot expect a woman in a wheel chair to tackle a rioting crowd without help. If this inducement is to work then it is necessary to ensure that each wheelchair volunteer is accomapnied on patrol by at least one able bodied person. We hear nothing about this problem.
3. Shifts There will be considerable difficulties in arranging shifts. It is important that this new species of Constable should be representative of the country as a whole if the scheme is to work. Many northern elderly ladies will be reluctant to go out on patrol when East Enders and Coronation Street are being shown. Younger people will insist on the continuance of watching educational programmes: X Factor and Big Brother. And what about football fans otherwise engaged with Football on three to four days of the week. Young men would not exchange these programmes even for the enjoyment of a good punch up!
There are no signs that the Coalition has considered these important issue. There are many more but regrettably I do not have the space and time to bring them to your attention. Anyway in the Big Society you are expected to think of them yourself.
I say to the Coalition that good ideas are not like butterflies in summer. You can no doubt come up with ideas but do you have the abilty to think them through as acts of social engineering? I think not. If I am to continue with my pioneering contribution I need to think that they will be taken seriously. If not, move over and let someone else try!
Filed under BBC, Big society, Cabinet, Cameron, Civil liberties, Lenin, Lib Dem blogs, Liberal Voice, Nick Clegg, Police, Police Federation, Volunteers