A Very Short Sighted Public Inquiry
I believe as hard as I can in all the improbable things of this world like Santa Claus and tooth fairy and public inquiries that are really public and really an inquiry.
Because I believe, I am doubly disappointed when they fall so very short of the mark of either public or inquiry.
The Scottish Police Association spent a lot of time and money and good will on their recent inquiry into the decision by newly minted Police Scotland to decide arbitrarily to allow armed police to respond to routine inquiries. That was the first issue. Folks in the line at the checkout found themselves next to an officer with a sidearm--or worse. It was, at best, startling.
But that was only the first issue. And by ignoring all the rest, the SPA inquiry tips its hand as nothing more than jockeying for more power for themselves over police matters.
This is my blog so I'll be straightforward and say Stephen House, Chief Constable, lied. Please
check the facts for yourself. You can track the media reports (including my own articles in the Caithness Courier) for the sequence of events. By delaying publishing the results of their inquiry, most folks will have forgotten all that stooshie. But he lied. I am old fashioned. I think when folks in public office are called out on a lie, they need to resign. Especially police officers. Especially the chief cop.
Now to the findings of the so called public inquiry.
On the basis of only 1000 replies (for my American readers: yes, Scotland is small but not that small--overall population nearly 6 million if we all stand up tall and get counted), those of us who objected to the policy have become a 'significant minority'. Most people, they say, thought the policy was OK. Cue the Mark Twain quote re liars, damned liars, and those who use statistics.
Now what is worse is that headline makers do not even bother to see that only 1000 people responded (badly written questionnaire--perhaps in retrospect it was designed with just this oversimplified conclusion in mind) so now the headlines are that most people actually approve of the policy. That is a giant stride forward into self-servingness.
By calling it a PR problem, the SPA steps into the breach to help the police manage their communications. The fix is in.
It is not a PR issue to be lied to by the Chief Cop. It is not a PR issue to have a major cultural shift in how police relate to the people they are pledged to serve--not to bully, not to intimidate, not to protect themselves from, but to serve.
Iain Whyte said that even those who objected to the policy would have accepted it if it had been better communicated to them. That is half true. An essential part of that communication was to make the case for why armed police were necessary. That case was not made then and I daresay won't be offered now. Having been given headlines saying it was all a PR problem and most people really agree with the policy, the lies have been given the imprimatur of a public inquiry,
except it was neither public nor an inquiry.
I am so angry because I believed in this inquiry. I went to Inverness to give evidence and I wrote letters and answered their questionnaire. In short, I was used.
Now if you think this blog is un British in its tone and righteous indignation, then check out this blog: