PM Johnson’s drive to increase police numbers by 20,000 will be welcomed by many, yet I believe this alone will not be enough. Libertarians believe in the individual’s right to defend their rights, life and property, and that this is also the primary role of the state. The problem with simply increasing police numbers is that it assumes a purely state-down approach, disconnects police function from their source of authority (the individual), and can become easily politicised and directed away from the real job of tackling actual rights violations such as violent crime and theft. The Libertarian Party, in our manifesto, pledges to re-establish the Peelian principle that ‘the police are the people and the people are the police’ as the surest way to block tyranny and enable effective policing by consent. Policing is, after all, the result of the individual delegating their rights to self-defence to the State to assist.
The Libertatian Party policy states that: “Police, at all times, should maintain a relationship with the public that gives reality to the historic tradition that the police are the public and the public are the police, the police being only members of the public who are paid to give full time attention to duties which are incumbent upon every citizen in the interests of community welfare and existence.” (https://tinyurl.com/y5l2ozyz) In short, police exercise delegated power from the people to protect their rights and property – something which each individual has a natural right to do.
The real test of policing efficiency is the absence of crime, not the visible evidence of police action in dealing with it. It’s more than a numbers game, and much more about reconnecting ordinary people with their role and rights in tackling real crime in their locality. Neither will police numbers alone be enough if they continue to be misdirected towards non-crimes and politically correct virtue signalling, rather than tackling real crime and actual rights violations.
As well as devolving policing to local areas Libertarian Party policy allows for electing local police chiefs and sheriffs, for better accountability to the people who call on them. In keeping with ‘the people being the police’ we will increase opportunities for “Special Constables, volunteers and Deputies to function in their local areas in keeping with Peelian principles of policing.” We want to make it possible for local people to work alongside the police in their local area, in the exercise of their rights, strictly observing their function and not becoming officious or exceeding their role. We will re-invigorate the Neighbourhood Watch programme in keeping with these same principles.
Libertarians do not believe in outsourcing their personal responsibility to the State and then absolving themselves of the results. Our approach for safer communities is not to simply tax, spend and give more power to the State, but to localise and involve local people because we know that the ability of the police to perform their duties is dependent upon the public approval of police actions. Remember, policing is the result of individuals delegating their rights to self-defence to the State to assist. To this end we will set about restoring the correct balance of delegated and individually exercised people power – built around the right of each individual to defend their rights, life and property – which is that ‘the police are the people and the people are the police.’
(Dan Liddicott is Home Affairs Spokesperson for the Libertarian Party)