British police can’t even defend themselves against dogs

Perhaps I’m misunderstanding things here, but as I read this article, five British police officers got badly mauled by a single dog because none had a gun.  It wasn’t until a SWAT team arrived that the attack ended.

In America, the police are minutes away when seconds count.  In England, the police are there, but who cares?  Even the dogs aren’t scared.

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  1. Wolf Howling says

    There is a blog that I regularly follow written by a British Police Inspector under the pseudonym Inspector Gadget.  He addresses this and a host of other issues relevant not just to the UK, but the US as well.  I could not recommend it more highly for a daily stop.  

    http://inspectorgadget.wordpress.com/ 

    As he notes in his blog post on this incident, it is long past time to arm British police.  This is not an isolated incident from his experience. 

  2. jj says

    Uncertain what your point is.  The police in Britain have always been seen as more or less helpful civil servants, not as the occupying army that cops in this country tend to present themselves as.  It’s been both tradition and a matter of pride that London was such a bastion of civilization the cops didn’t need to be weaponized – are you advocating for them to become the same armed and dangerous dimwits we have roaming the streets here in the US?  The average American cop may leave the station-house having forgotten to put his pants on – but he won’t go to the bathroom without his gun: it’s the center of his being. 
     
    On the other hand, London has changed, as I’m sure you know as well as I, both of us having lived there.  In my day it was still a 90% homogenous city – as indeed was the country.  In Britain you saw and dealt with the British: the background, expectations, language, and customs – even of the crooks and bums – was the same.  If it may be said that societal rules and norms constitute a game of sorts, then in those days everyone was playing the same one.
     
    But England did a splendidly stupid thing back there in the sixties, which I’m sure they don’t admit to this day – but they’ll be paying for it forever.  They Europeanized themselves, long before the rest of Europe thought of it, by deciding that every citizen of the commonwealth should also, automatically, as a matter of birthright, be free to move to the old mother country – no assimilation necessary, or even expected.  Consequently neither London nor England as a whole are homogenous any more.  There are districts in London where the last language you’ll hear is English – whole families who don’t know a word of it (and will not learn) – and there are places in the countryside, York would be a splendid example, which have ceased being a British-European Medieval city and are well on the way to becoming Outermost Septictankistan.
     
    And the cops don’t know how to deal with this any better than any other authority in Britain does.  The British have been British for a thousand years, and this is something outside that experience.  (One of the things good about America – up to a point, which of course we’re now past – is that we never knew what the hell our neighbor’s customs were, so we stayed flexible.  We have of course flexed entirely too much at this point, and ourselves stand in danger of pissing the whole thing away.)  Britain has already pissed the whole thing away.  Next-door neighbors now have no expectation that they have anything at all in common with each other.  Indeed, in many districts in London it’s dangerous for them to assume they do.
     
    These cops went and beat a door down, something cops like to do.  While not a big believer in the concept of karma, I am at least somewhat of the opinion that when you beat a door down, whatever comes through it is on your own head.  If something very unfriendly comes through, teeth bared, growling loudly, and pissed off – well, maybe you should have left that particular door alone.  Or at least waited for the guys with guns to get there.  And that’s the heart of the matter.  If you suspect there’s something so troubling going on behind that door that you just absolutely have to beat it down – why the hell would you use the Bobbies for that?  There has always – even in my day, or your day – been an armed core for emergencies down at the station-house.  They don’t let them march around like the Gestapo, as we do, and the gun isn’t a badge of office to them, it’s a tool – but they’re there. They always have been.  So it’s a misapplication of manpower: if you have a door that you simply must beat down, let the guys best equipped to deal with whatever comes through it handle the job.

  3. says

    Too right, jj. When I lived in England, London was already become an international city, which is why I didn’t particularly like it.  Yorkshire, where I lived, was serious English.  It was England practically untouched by time and certainly untouched by immigration.  That was 30 odd years ago.  I understand that most of Yorkshire is now Pakistani.  Richard III would be surprised.

  4. jj says

    I actually lived in Wimbledon, on a lovely old street called West Side Common, which was, oddly enough, the road that bounded the west side of Wimbledon Common.  (A sad day when we awoke to chainsaws, Dutch Elm Disease had finally done for the last of the huge old elms in the Common.  In a morning it went from a forest to a field.)  Wimbledon was about a fifteen minute train ride from Waterloo, or a half hour on the District Line to Earl’s Court, or Victoria, and all of central London by hopping on a Circle Line train.
     
    Now I’m reminiscing – which everybody but you probably hates, but that’s okay – you might enjoy!  (At least you say you do – could be lying for politeness’ sake, I suppose…)  The rest of you guys – stop reading here!
     
    Lived in an old manor that had been carved up into flats.  You went in the front door as of old, and were confronted with the front hall and grand stair.  (Which stayed grand through the second floor, but then narrowed from the second to my aerie.  Floors expressed in British terms.)   But the house had been divided, with a flat to the left of the hall, and one to the right, on the ground, first, and second floors.  Up top, the old servant’s quarters had been converted to a two bedroom, two bath, huge living room and huge dining room with insanely modern kitchen flat, where I lived.  It was a condo, though not called that: you owned your flat and contributed to maintaining the public spaces.  Every morning the milkman schlepped upstairs and left a bottle of milk at my door.  I occasionally, in the course of two plus years, wondered how the hell he got in the building – but can’t say I ever worried about it.
     
    On the first floor (English style) lived a family of three, paralyzingly old English.  Their single child, a son, was a year or two younger than I, born to an elderly father who might have been older than mine when I was born, and a mother probably already at the time of his birth becoming irregular with the onset of menopause.  He remains a friend, but his parents were something that no longer exists.  In their early eighties when I met them, I don’t believe I ever saw his father – Ernest – without a jacket and tie.  Ever.  At any time of day.  I would bet a good deal of money that his mother didn’t own either a pair of slacks or a skirt: I never saw her in anything other than a dress.  She’d conceived the notion that I didn’t eat properly – which I probably didn’t – so I was expected for breakfast a couple of times a week, dinner on weekends as convenient, and tea as often as I could manage.  Naturally my heritage rose up to nip me gently in the butt, and it turned out that Ernest had done something vaguely related to something and – inevitably – had met my father in London in, he thought, 1934.  I was used to this, I was always meeting people like that – my father was apparently everywhere in the course of his life, and evidently knew everybody.  (When I got the two of them on the phone together and they hashed it out, that was correct: 1934.  They weren’t long-lost friends, or pals gone missing from each other’s lives or anything like that; they were acquaintances who’d played a couple of rounds of golf together, and could spend an hour on the phone once every forty years, checking in and finding out whatever happened to old so-and-so; where’d you end up; and oh, that’s what happened to her – she married you!  {Keeping in mind that my mother was 5 in 1934…}) 
     
    Being so close I spent a lot of time in London.  It was a place in which you could, in a large part of it, central London, walk the streets perfectly safely at two in the morning.  It was at about two in the morning one day that I discovered where the panhandlers went every night, when I encountered a gaggle of Bobbies standing around by Charing Cross Bridge – the railroad bridge.  They told me that they scooped the street people up every evening and put them under the bridge for the night.  There were about ten Bobbies, and they kept an eye on what looked like a hundred or so street people, and made sure there were no fights, everybody was safe, and it stayed pretty quiet all night.  By seven or so the next morning they were picked up and gone, no sign they’d been there.  That happened every night.  That was a September night, and not too cold – I don’t know where they went in December.)  Nowadays you’d need cages and twenty guys with machine guns to police an encampment like that – but in London in those days even the downtown homeless were mannered.  (Yes, I am fully aware that there were, even then, neighborhoods that were dangerous.  But they weren’t in Central London.)
     
    London had great bookstores.  Incredible bookstores.  I was a regular of Hatchard’s and Foyles, Foyles being the Barnes & Noble of its day: huge, on multiple floors.  It occupied a whole block on the west side of Tottenham Court Road.  And nothing ever went out of print.  I have always enjoyed PG Wodehouse, and Foyles is the only place I ever saw, right there on several shelves, every book he had written to that time – which was over 90 titles.  You go into Barnes & Noble and look at Dickens, maybe five or six titles.  In Foyles they’re all there, everything he wrote.  And one thing that never failed to amaze me: in those days the working day went until 6:00 – an eight hour day meant eight hours, not including lunch, and both of those stores, Foyles and Hatchard’s, would be packed to the point you couldn’t move in the aisles from 6:15 until 7:00 PM, as people coming out of work bought a book for the ride home on the tube or the train.  London was the most literate city in the world – everybody read.  In a week more people went through those stores than any Barnes & Noble in this country see in a year.
     
    Met a young verger one day at St. Paul’s, a guy named Geoffrey who’s probably a priest these days.  In those days he stood around in his black robe directing tourists.  He walked with me and a friend about two third of the way up the circular stair to whispering gallery, then, making sure no one was around, he unlocked an iron door and snuck us into a pitch black space behind the stair, inside the wall.  Going straight ahead we came into a dusty old chamber, lined with books, most of them untouched for who knows how long.  They were the old account-books, and they dated back to the building of the cathedral.  Several of them were about five minutes away from crumbling, requisitions for bits and pieces ordered by Wren – and the pages were signed by him.  Somewhere up in there over one of the transepts are wooden models of the cathedral in various scales, inches deep in dust, untouched in years.  One of them big enough for me to stand up inside, with my head in the dome.  They were the models the builders worked from, as the cathedral rose they were walled in.  The walls of the cathedral have passages running through them, and we spent about four hours wandering, like termites.  I opened a trapdoor at one point and found myself in the midst of the mosaic ceiling, looking down on people staring upward.  (My face may be in several family photographs of the trip to London and the St. Paul mosaic ceiling.)  The mosaic tiles are ceramic, by the way, and the gold ones really are gold leaf – but you have to be within five feet to see the hammer-marks.
     
    But I’m afraid those days were the last of the best of London.  I wouldn’t visit it now if it was across the street, as I’ve said once before.  Why destroy the memories I have of it when it was still something to see?
     
     

  5. Spartacus says

    It only seems unimpressive when making a country-to-country comparison.  Viewed historically, one might easily argue that they’re making good progress.
     
    (Although, I’m still trying to recover from seeing “marksman” and “shotgun” snuggled happily into the same sentence together.)

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