Thursday, 11 December 2008

Brunstrom Watch: Motoring Convinctions Targets

This is going to be a semi-regular series looking at the latest antics of North Wales' very own Police Chief Constable, the outspoken Richard Brunstrom who never seems to be out of the press. (So much so that we've even had lectures examining some of his claims!)

I don't usually read the Telegraph, ever. But I do get a e-mail summary of crime-related news every day and this story lept out at me.

Of course, for the Telegraph it's targets gone mad time. Oh, and it also calls him the "Mad Mullah of the Traffic Taliban".

So what's the story really about. Brunstrom is known for cracking down on motoring offences, especially speeding. He has a quite hardline approach on the issue, with crackdowns using speed cameras, stopping drivers and testing them for drunkenness etc. The Telegraph reports that he has recently detailed a police officer to stand outside a school until he had booked five motorists for not wearing seat belts.

In a post on his blog ( Brunstrom argues that his methods work citing some figures from a graph. However, the amount of road deaths in North Wales are tiny so you can't really judge from them either way. The thing that is clear is the amount of local people this approach seems to piss off (the Socialist Party in Wales have received e-mails about this too!)

And now his own police officers too apparently. As the Telegraph reports

"Now leaders of the Police Federation, which represents 1,588 officers in the region, want talks with Mr Brunstrom over discontent over management style, mounting paperwork, and targets for penalty tickets.
A survey of more than 500 officers in north Wales revealed many felt overburdened by bureaucracy and that they felt pressurised into concentrating on issuing tickets rather than properly investigating crimes.
At a meeting of North Wales Police Authority the Police Federation representative Chris Warner complained that his office had been inundated with emails from officers concerned about "quantity not quality" demands at Christmas. "

Frankly I think this kind of populist bluster about the police investigating crimes properly rather than being weighted with bureaucracy certainly gets quite a bit of public support - but then that depends on what your definition of a crime is - what is the Police Federation's definition of a crime? Quite possibly not the same as me - for me it's things like violent crimes, sexual crimes, personal property crimes and organised crime - at least they are the things that police investigation can be beneficial on improving situations for ordinary people. Either way, I certainly, after a recent experience that I will blog about soon, detest fixed penalties/administrative penalties/on-the-spot fines with a vengence, likewise the same with police arrest/penalty notice targets. Both aim to achieve 'summary justice' where more crimes can be chlked up as having been dealt with promptly - by criminalising stuff that people usually aren't criminalised for.


RickB said...

Oh no! Did they get you? I would also add it's the one area of police work that turns a profit along with good stats, maybe not directly for them, but investigating a rape shows no prospect of a juicy fine for 5 minutes work hiding by the roadside.

Leftwing Criminologist said...

"Oh no! Did they get you? I would also add it's the one area of police work that turns a profit along with good stats"

Quite right - they didn't get me, but i'll blog about it in the next week or so.