Chris Maclean: The wrong side of the law

By Chris Maclean

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags The police Want

It's nine o'clock on a Saturday night and the police minibus has parked on double yellow lines. Six burly officers emerge into the light. It's...

It's nine o'clock on a Saturday night and the police minibus has parked on double yellow lines. Six burly officers emerge into the light.

It's Christmas time and they feel compelled to check our premises licenses.

Unquestionably this is a ruse to shake down the pubs in this town at this time of year. I've had two inspections in the past few weeks. I know there will be more.

Sometimes they are accompanied by trading standards, department of work and pensions or other pencil pushing officials who, resplendent in their high visibility vests, seek to justify their presence by making concerned expressions at what they expect to be serious violations of their responsibilities.

This annual exercise is designed to a) emphasise the no-nonsense hands-on presence of the police and b) provides a cheap, effective method of policing which seems to offer coverage but is little more than window-dressing.

In reality the police presence in this manner is simply irritating. Customers feel intimidated. They feel threatened. They feel guilty. And it only takes one idiot to make a stupid comment and things escalate.

A few years ago a police car stopped at the traffic lights outside a pub opposite mine. A customer in there stupidly made a two-fingered gesture through the window. The two officers stormed in and attempted to aprehend the customer. He resisted.

The upshot of this was that the incident escalated, the landlord behind the bar was ignored and the police became aggitated. Because their local radios didn't work in our village they called for assistance on their car radios.

Within ten minutes there must have been over a dozen cars and more than thirty officers, some with dogs, in attendance.

All this to deal with a man who made a two fingered gesture.

Last year, in a sarcastic gesture, I sent the police a photocopy of my licence suggesting I could save them the bother of this annual inspection. Unfortunately it backfired and I was subjected to a dull licensing officer telling me how to conduct my business for several hours.

It might seem naive, but I want the police there when I want them; but, otherwise, I don't want to see them. I've never had need to call them and they have never had need to visit here.

I am a law abiding citizen who runs a good business. I simply hate being treated as suspicious.

Related topics Legislation

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