If you asked most people what democracy means, they'd probably say something along the lines of free elections. What "free elections" actually means is that the majority voice will govern the country. He who shouts the loudest, etc.
The Daily Mail is today outraged at Surrey Police's rolling road block that allowed Katie Price to get home unimpeded. A lot of people will no doubt read the story and be equally outraged. On Breakfast television today a commentator speculated that the police must have been "star-struck" and that was the reason for the "waste of resources". On the face of it, any decent tax-paying citizen would quite rightly be appalled.
How does the road block for Katie Price compare, however, to some of the following uses of resources recently by Blandshire Constabulary and other forces:
- Four PCSOs doing high vis patrols for a week due to "kids gathering" outside a local shop.
- A marked car being left outside an address for four days because the female occupant has been receiving nasty texts from her ex-partner.
- A witness for a drugs trial being housed at public expense in a hotel for the duration of the trial, and being given a uniformed escort to court each day.
- One social worker being given the protection of four armed officers, two traffic cars, four local officers including a sergeant, in order to go to an address and tell a mother her child was going to be taken into foster care.
- A six week operation involving more than thirty officers, undercover surveillance, search warrants and high-tech equipment, all to find out which white van driver has been approaching schoolgirls and offering them a lift.
- Two years spent bringing to justice the six or seven thugs who subjected one family to a reign of racist harassment, at a cost nearing hundreds of thousands to the tax payer.
All of the above are important to some degree. All of the above involve a staggering expense and use of police resources on the needs of the few. But how does that differ to the use of two dozen different medical staff to respond to a car crash victim with a badly broken leg, or six fire engines stuffed with firemen for one small house fire where no one is even trapped?
A true democracy is not about the view of the majority, but representation of the public- ALL of the public. If that means Katie Price, perhaps at risk of being terrorised in her car by the dangerous driving of photographers, then the use of one single traffic patrol to ensure her safe passage home is a pretty efficient way of resolving the issue. Who knows what information or intelligence led to Surrey's decision - after all, they don't escort her home with a rolling road block every day.
There are many occasions on which police officer waste their time chasing trivial offences to satisfy bean counters in their Headquarters. Or jump through hoops to cover their backs against litigation or disciplinary action. But the weighting of resources towards the minority in our society at greatest risk of harm is not poor judgment, it's our job.
Having said that, maybe Miss Price phoned up the Area Commander, and maybe he just wanted her autograph.
'Diary of an On-Call Girl' is available in some bookstores and online.