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This time last year, Dominic Grieve would probably have been stupefied at the suggestion that by now he would have replaced his then boss, David Davis, as shadow home secretary. At that time he was, however, the Conservative MP most ConservativeHome readers wanted to see promoted to the shadow cabinet.

And after David Davis’s resignation last summer, that is exactly where he found himself and he has made a good start to 2009 by giving an interview to this morning’s Independent in which he sets out his desire to see a return to "common sense" policing.

He outlines how he wants to see officers allowed to concentrate on dealing with the crimes that seriously affect people rather than have to waste time on investigating trivial complaints.

He says:

"There is no doubt – the police say that their discretion has been eroded. If somebody comes in to a police station and makes an allegation clearly of the most trivial character they nevertheless have to record it, to investigate it, go through a process of dealing with it which may involve going round and confronting the person against whom the trivial allegation has been made. Equally, the public seem to have become tremendously willing to go running off to the police to bleat about the most minor matters. In part that may be because of the perception that they are so regulated and controlled in every other way that there is nothing they can do about problems and they have got to go to the police to solve them."

Mr Grieve also reiterates the need for the police to support – rather than question – adults who rebuke children:

"The public have also come round to seeing the police as more likely to bite them than do something about the problems in the community around them. They also say: ‘Oh well, if I try to stop that, someone will come round to arrest me.’ Most of the complaints being made by the public are about quite low level anti-social behaviour issues about children and adolescents. I don’t believe these problems didn’t exist in the past, but in the past they were controlled because adults felt confident in tackling these problems themselves, not by being vigilantes, but by being sensible citizens."

The Independent states that a new Conservative government would act "within days" to rewrite guidelines in favour of people who stand up for traditional good behaviour.

The report also suggests that Mr Grieve will spearhead a "New Year policy drive aimed at ending the ‘conveyor belt to crime’, praising initiatives championed by the former party leader Iain Duncan Smith to target children at risk of falling into delinquency".

All very sensible stuff. I look forward to hearing more from Mr Grieve in the coming weeks.

Jonathan Isaby

15 comments for: Dominic Grieve begins 2009 by calling for a return to “common sense” policing

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