The Home Secretary, Theresa May, today in a major speech sensibly made clear that the next Metropolitan Police Commissioner will be a British officer – following speculation that a US crimefighter, such as former New York police chief Bill Bratton could be considered for the role. She said she had
“no time for the pessimism which says we cannot find from amongst our ranks a tough crime fighter, equipped to lead the Met”.
This was wise. Police morale is hardly going to be improved by giving the message that the only person of sufficient calibre to lead the Metropolitan Police is an American. In fact, when the closing date for applications passes tomorrow, a number of strong and impressive candidates are likely to have put themselves forward.
However, in her speech she also said that ministers are considering new curfew powers – to allow “general curfews” to be imposed on a specific area in England and Wales, rather than being linked to specific individuals, and to allow them to apply to youngsters aged under 16. This is less convincing.
Curfews are only meaningful, if they are enforced. And they can only be enforced effectively if there are large numbers of police on the streets. And, as we have seen in the last week, if there are large numbers of police on the streets, you are unlikely to have disorder and you won’t need a curfew.
It all comes back to police numbers and police budgets and that’s the area where the Government is on very weak ground.