Police have lost sight of the line of duty

In the BBC’s riveting Line of Duty a week ago, the plot involved a police decision to raid a brothel. It put at risk the arrest of the leaders of an organised crime group, because priority had to be given to rescuing the women they had enslaved.

It wasn’t clear whether the officer who made this judgment call did so out of sensitivity to the political climate or concern for the welfare of the women involved.

Regardless, the decision to prioritise sentiment at the expense of the most important goal — or to put it another way, for the police to behave more like social workers than law enforcement officers — rang all too true. It was a shrewd observation by the series creator, Jed Mercurio. In real life, it has been illustrated over and over again, most recently in the capital.

To be fair to the police, some of this distortion of priorities is the result of top-down pressure from government. This is what safeguarding society’s boundaries looks like when those boundaries have themselves become obscured by a cultural fog. The police are merely reflecting a consensus promulgated by the intellectual, political and cultural establishment.

This consensus comprises, among other things, unquestioning faith in the benefits of drug liberalisation, the looming catastrophe of man-made global warming, as well as identity politics and the grievance culture. It repudiates reason and evidence, prioritises feelings over facts, and roots itself in the breakdown of social and moral norms.

It is also enforced through coercion. As the illiberal suppression of dissident ideas increases through social and professional ostracism (notably among academics who dare to challenge left-wing bias at many universities), the will to enforce laws designed to uphold justice and protect the weak against the strong is on the decline. There are still many sterling police officers upholding the line of duty; but in both the culture of policing and the society it serves, that line now lies broken.

To read my whole Times column (£), please click here.

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