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Institutional cowardice

  • June 9th, 2008

Boris Johnson, the new Lord Mayor of London, wrote as editor of the Spectator:

“It is a sign of the decline of any great civilisation that its people begin to worship strange gods. Now we have a new divinity that commands the adoration of the governing classes, as nannying and multiple breasted as Diana of Ephesus. Her name is Phobia and sacrifices are being made at her altar.”

Those sacrifices are human sacrifices. Mr Singh of Manurewa, who died early this morning, is another sacrifice to that god.

An ambulance arrived within 10 minutes, but was kept away by Police for nearly half an hour while Mr Singh’s co-owner begged for help, told them the coast was clear, and was told not to take his friend to hospital himself.

Boris Johnson was driven into print by fatal shootings near Henley where police officers were not allowed to go to the scene for 64 minutes.

Two women bled to death. No paramedics were allowed in for 87 minutes after the first call to the police. Instead frightened civilians went to help. On mobiles they repeatedly told the police the killer had decamped. Two brave neighbours cradled the dying women in their arms. Emergency services continually assured them over the telephone that help was on the way when it was not. The lie was to cover the shame of not admitting that help was frozen by police rules determined to stamp out risk. They left no room for individual bravery, or initiative or even commonsense.

New Zealand had two similar incidents while I was an MP, but unlike Britain there was no public outcry or even media enquiry. A woman died slowly of gunshot wounds over hours in a Fielding house, begging for help on the phone, long after the killer had left. Police refused to let anyone near the house.

Not long after that a constable died on the front lawn of another Manawatu house, while police stood clear in case the killer was still there waiting to shoot more police. I made myself unpopular by asking the Minister of Police questions. The responsible officer treated them as insults to Police courage. I received messages through friendly officers to back off, or my party would suffer. I also asked why our police were not equipped with transparent Kevlar ballistic shields, to enable them to rescue their colleagues under fire. While few shields will stand up to high velocity rounds, the answers to all the questions were grudging, and incomplete. They were evasive bumf.

When Sir Robert Peel laid down the principles of policing, no one would have questioned the principle that you should not join the Police unless you are prepared to lay down your life for others. Under modern policing others can wait.

Our feminised leadership has laid the Health and Safety in Employment Act over all occupations. Head would roll if a senior officer let his staff go “all macho” in the service of a victim. Front line police are the humiliated servants of the idea that nothing is worth risking life and limb for, that almost every injury must be avoidable. Disagree as a manager? You’ll find that avoidable injury to your staff is self-evident fault which must never happen again.

What has gone wrong? Are our police less courageous? I believe not. But they repeatedly emphasize that valour is for mugs. Whenever some brave citizen stands up to a robbery, or an attempted rape, any media praise is followed by a Police warning that is was nevertheless foolish.

The rights of citizen arrest in the Crimes Act are never explained, and the Police have charged people who try to exercise them.

People in rural areas get the same fatuous advice “don’t aggravate them, don’t try to defend yourself, just call us or try to get away, don’t take the law into your own hands etc, notwithstanding the practical impossibility of police help arriving in time, if the criminals are bent on mayhem.

The Police peddle the falsehood that it is safer to do whatever criminals order. If it was ever true when our criminals were less vicious, it is not true now. As that doctrine has taken hold it has become much safer to be a robber, and of course they’ve multiplied, like germs when the anti-biotic has been replaced by a herbal remedy.

When I was an MP I asked the Police for their evidence to justify their claim. They had none.

I asked the Parliamentary library researchers. They could find nothing to back up the Police assertion. Instead they found studies pointing the other way, including US Bureau of Justice statistics from reviewing 6 million cases. The conclusion was that vigorous defence was far more likely to reduce the risk of loss or injury to victims of violent crime, including rape and robbery. Interestingly the effect was not just a benefit to others (making such crime less rewarding or more costly to would be villains). Vigorous defence reduced the likelihood of serious injury to the primary victim as well.

This is the season for government apologies. But we’ll never get an admission of fault from those who’ve made the rules that effectively order that our many Mr Singhs must die.

From the lamentable evasions of spokespeople on Morning Report this morning we can know that eventually a local staff scapegoat will be pilloried for some fault in applying the rules. There will be senior vows to review them.

But I’m sure there’ll be no undertaking to dump the mindset that has produced those complex and energy sapping rules –  the hostility to “foolish” muscular valour and initiative and the other “macho” virtues so unpopular with our current rulers.

They will sail serenely above all this, looking ‘compassionate’ and ‘tendering their regrets’.


  • Tim
  • June 9th, 2008
  • 3:38 pm

At least one primary school in Nelson now teaches children that, when confronted with a bully, avoid eye contact, walk away and tell someone in authority.
Far different from my father’s advice to me some 40 years ago when I attended the same school – stand up to them.

  • jcuknz
  • June 9th, 2008
  • 8:49 pm

I thought this latest NZ case was bad enough, a complete abrogation of intelligent thinking and understanding of what helping those in need require, but the UK examples are even worse. The Nanny state is showing its sores.

  • Jim Maclean
  • June 9th, 2008
  • 10:43 pm

I cannot tell, nor do I really care whether those Senior Police officers who spout and tolerate this nonsense have always been risk averse cowards happy to advance on others efforts, or burnt out cynics who have become convinced that only mugs stick their necks out.
Whichever it is, they need to go. Commonsense to stop the prosecution of good people doing no more than defending themselves. A bit of spine to stand up for their own staff under attack every day rather than splitting hairs over arrest procedure. Finally a simple knowlege of the use of technology. If someone on site can give good clear information to a 111 operator that offenders have left the scene then it is not too much to expect that a cop, armed or not will approach the scene and bring help to those who need it.
Bring on the election. Stephen Franks for PM!

  • Mike mckee
  • June 10th, 2008
  • 12:38 am

I realised this country was in a shit state with their police in 1997.
somewhere in southland a business owner had lost his insurance because of the many burglaries.
His alarm went off.
he went to his business with his bolt action hunting rifle and confronted two burglars on site.
he frog marched them to the local nick.
the police prosecuted him for pointing a firearm.
Nothing I’ve seen since then has convinced me that our police are Ok.
In my three personal dealings with them, I’ve seen their apathy, laziness and PC bullshit to avoid doing their job properly.

I still ring 111 as surely not all of them can be as bad as some of them.
I have no trust nor faith in their leadership though. politicaly suborned is my opinion.

  • Mike mckee
  • June 10th, 2008
  • 12:42 am

with reference to my last post.
I view your leader Mr John Key as like the NZ Police so I won’t be voting for National with my party vote. that goes to a party with guts and balls and who do the right thing even when it’s unpopular.
Sadly you aren’t in my electorate as I would vote for you individually.

  • jcuknz
  • June 10th, 2008
  • 8:09 am

It is well recognised that the first hour following injury is the critical period to successful recovery. I wonder if those who held back the paramedics could be charged with conspiracy to murder or something?

Oh I forgot, of course the police are the law.

  • Scott
  • June 10th, 2008
  • 10:35 am

Totally agree with your comments. Men need to stand up and act with bravery and courage.

  • baxter
  • June 10th, 2008
  • 6:49 pm

The delays here are a result of Central planning causing procedures with inherent delays. This would probably be rated a textbook operation in a Police Examination. In practise Butt is protected by following these protocols but a life can be lost. I am sure that most front line cops would disapprove of not being permitted to render assistance to the injured even at some risk to their own lives. Indeed there is risk associated virtually every time they go out on a job. Random cops frequently risk their lives pulling people from burning houses and cars, confronting violent killers like BURTON and others.Fronting armed or mental people though un-armed themselves. When they take the oath they accept the risk, unfortunately sometimes they also have to obey orders.In my view there was several tactics that could have been followed to reduce risk while ascertaining the situation in this case.

  • jcuknz
  • June 10th, 2008
  • 8:37 pm

I guess one must assume that you asre correct Baxter so I have sympathy for those unfortunate policemen who are bearing the brunt of public anger, I’m sure I’m not the only one, becuase of having to obey orders.

A hell of a position to be put in.

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