Tuesday 10 December 2002

The police "service"

Today's Daily Mail tells us that there are 15,324 serving police officers in Scotland. That seems quite a lot but on a typical day 4,904 of them are working in "administration and specialist departments" and 6,957 are "either on holiday, off sick, in court or carrying out paperwork". Of the remaining 3,463, a mere 4%, that is 138 officers, are on foot patrol in the whole country at any time, with a further 588 driving around in their cars. I have a sneaking suspicion that this is not quite what the public expects.

Unsurprisingly, the Mail's editorial is critical but it doesn't go far enough. Some libertarians believe that there is a proper role for a limited, or "nightwatchman" state that provides necessary protective services such as the police and the military. The current policing arrangements give credence to those who doubt that any politically provided services are viable. Certainly, these figures show that there is absolutely no justification for the government's policy of "victim disarmament" that makes it illegal for us to defend ourselves.