Thursday, June 16, 2005

Welcome to zero tolerance British style

There was a time when the British police had a reputation for heavy handedness, witness the battle of the beanfield and the miners strike. Twenty years on, the politics may have changed, but the heavy handedness remains. Welcome to zero tolerance British style, where the middle classes get punished for their politically incorrect behaviour. Whereas the authorities in America have cracked down on graffiti, urination in public, and anti-social behaviour, their British counterparts have focused on the "mindless thugs" who go three miles an hour over the speed limit, or who make insensitive comments about police horses. Meanwhile, the real criminals literally get away with murder.

When I recently read this storyabout a man being arrested for calling a police horse gay, I thought I must be reading a Monty Python sketch. Of course I hadn't reckoned with the dunces who run the Thames Valley Police.
Late in the evening on Bank Holiday Monday, Sam Brown, an Oxford University undergraduate, inquired of a mounted policeman on Cornmarket Street: "Do you know your horse is gay?" Also, "I hope you're comfortable riding a gay horse."

Within minutes, young Mr Brown was surrounded by six officers and a fleet of patrol cars, handcuffed and jailed overnight, after which he was fined £80. A spokesperson for Thames Valley Police told the student newspaper Cherwell that the "homophobic comments" were "not only offensive to the policeman and his horse, but any members of the general public in the area."

Maybe the Thames Valley police aren't paid to think, they should at least remember who they're supposed to serve.