As drunken Chelsea soccer fans were rioting on Fulham Broadway, following the London side's defeat in the Champions League Final in Moscow, the Home Secretary, Jacqui Smith, faced accusations of betrayal in her clash with police over pay.
Nearly 11 years after Labour came to power on a pledge to be "tough on crime and tough on the causes of crime," last night saw as many as 200 drunken football hooligans clashing with police outside Fulham Broadway tube station, close to Chelsea's Stamford Bridge ground; all this a damning indictment of a government that has purveyed over a society where knife crime among youngsters alone has trebled. Relations between Labour and the Police have been poisoned due to failed policies, botched pay deals and unnecessary red tape that has taken police men and women away from the streets and the people that need their presence most - even Jacqui Smith has said it is not safe to walk the streets at night.
Under pressure to combat crime Labour introduced three main policy pledges: To get more police on the beat; to introduce ID cards and to reinforce terror laws — all of which have failed. In my LATEST investigation into police recruitment I found that over a third of all new police recruits since 2002 were actually Police Community Support Officers (PCSOs), who have; no powers of arrest; no authority to investigate or report crime, limited detention powers and only four weeks training. A purely decorative move sought to give the impression that more police officers are out on the streets — a failure.
ID Cards have been slammed for creating what would be seen as a 'database state' by which computers manage society by watching people. This could mean government officials could be poking into your private life. Linked to the National Identity Register (NIR) that is the main aim of the 'ID cards' scheme. Your NIR number would be the key to your whole life. And by "information sharing", what you tell one public servant could be passed to anyone.
Given Labour's track record of looking after important information on databases it is not surprising therefore, that the public and opposition MPs — including those within Labour - have resoundly rejected the idea — a failure. Anti-terror laws - the government's sure-fire vote winner - fell flat on its face. Deeply criticized by police chiefs, opposition MPs and even the safety conscious public this was Tony Blair's flag-ship policy. Supposed to be seen through by Brown, but was quietly dropped in the wake of staunch opposition — a failure.
After failing to be tough on the causes of crime the government undermines the very organization that has been put in place to preserve law and order in this country. Banned by law from striking, 86 per cent of Britain's 140,000 officers voted for full industrial rights on Tuesday. The home secretary, Jacqui Smith, yesterday had to sit and listen as she was denounced by police officers for "betraying" them over their pay.
She was mocked for her student drug use and told by one officer to quit as she faced the Police Federation conference in Bournemouth. The root of the row that has poisoned relations between Labour and police officers is the government's decision to introduce in stages a 2.5 per cent pay rise awarded by an independent arbitration panel.
At a time when pay in the private sector was increasing by around four per cent, police officers - whose pay at or below sergeant averaged £36,021 this would effectively reduce the offer to 1.9 per cent. But outrageously PCSOs received the full pay rise. Jan Berry, Federation leader, said: "Your decision not to honour the pay award was a breach of faith. It was a monumental mistake, and I don't say this lightly when I say you betrayed the police service.
"How was it that the government found £2.7bn to dig itself out of a tax hole in advance of a by-election but couldn't find £30m to honour our pay deal?"
The government is more concerned with saving their skins than protecting the public. But the fact is Labour has failed in its three main policies to reduce crime and they are now failing to support the one organisation in this country that can keep the public safe in a time when serious violent crime is on the increase. If there fails to be an agreement there will be more violence and bigger rows and Labour will have blood on their hands.