These elections for police commissioners seem unpopular with the police themselves, and you can understand why. Because they have been ticking along without a glimpse of controversy and now we’re going to interfere by electing people to pretend to check up on them.
In particular, they’ve got the best PR department in the world, which must make other public bodies insanely jealous. For example, imagine if the BBC had helped cause a major disaster, such as making a drama series so dreadful it caused a ship to sink. Then, to cover it up, they got Bruce Forsyth to alter 116 official statements, removing all mention of the programme. And the presenters of Countryfile told the press that the passengers on the ship were so drunk they’d tipped it up themselves, then 23 years later when this was revealed, they let all those responsible carry on introducing Strictly Come Dancing and drawing their full pension.
Politicians and the press would demand that everyone who worked there was arrested for treason, and the Blue Peter Garden be buried under concrete as they did with the power station at Chernobyl. But when the police were found to have behaved like that, the general attitude is we must remember the thousands of statements they DON’T alter, which goes to show they’re the finest police in the world.
Similarly, what would happen if the Post Office were proved to have whacked a newspaper seller so hard with a sheet of stamps that he had a heart attack and died? There’d be demands that every Post Office in the world was privatised and sorting offices be burned down and exorcists employed to shoo away the demons that inevitably spew up from the underworld when you allow a service to be publicly owned, which is why the post is always late and they’re responsible for murder. But when the police do it, most of the establishment explains that this goes to show how much pressure they’re under, and who of us can say that if we had to fill in all the forms the police have to fill in these days, we wouldn’t occasionally knock a passer-by flat as he strolled along with his hands in his pockets?
And we can guess the uproar if a state school announced it had “Left no stone unturned” in investigating which of its students had been hacking into everyone’s phones, then it turned out they hadn’t even opened the sackful of evidence on the headmaster’s desk, and he was taking gifts off the people they were supposed to be investigating. Ofsted would urge a UN resolution sanctioning immediate aerial bombardment of every classroom with tactical nuclear missiles.
Football managers see their team let one goal in and half the fans scream they should be sacked. Local councils are pasted across front pages if they spend 20 quid on balloons for Christmas. But the police get away with it all, the geniuses. Who could we possibly elect to run them better than they run themselves?