Tuesday, 29 September 2009

What are the police for? What is the law for?

What is the law for, if not to protect people from being harmed by other people? And what are the police for, if not for apprehending those who harm others?

Those are the obvious questions that arise from the Pilkington case. The Police Federation has apparently "accused the Government of destroying public confidence in the police by introducing 'gimmicks' and endless paperwork which have left too few officers on the beat to respond to every call. "

And indeed the Government (this one in particular, though previous ones are not innocent) must bear much of the blame. But surely it isn't just gimmicks and endless paperwork that the government is responsible for. What about the fact that the government has created over 3,600 new criminal offences since 1997? That must create extra work for the police?

And it is hardly surprising that the police don't have the resources to cope with thuggish behaviour, when they have to spend their time interviewing opposition MPs, bishops, street evangelists, and the BBC Director General.

There is something seriously wrong with policing in Britain, and the reason for that is that there is something seriously wrong with the current approach to law in Britain. We have too many laws. A key principle of libertarianism is the rule of law, and that includes the notion that "there should be as few laws as possible, and that those that do exist should be simple, clear and predictable in their application." We need fewer laws, not more - so that the police can concentrate their resources on the things that are important - and give families like the Pilkingtons the protection that they need.

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