Devon & Cornwall Police inhabit a vast headquarters building on the outskirts of Exeter. When I was a small boy the then Devon County police operated extremely effectively from a building a fraction of the size and, what's more, the police where highly visible in the countryside and on the roads. Now the police are all but invisible. There must be a sort of 'parkinsons law' for police - the bigger the headquarters the fewer actual front line policemen there are.
I am writing this after chatting over a cup of coffee with someone who comes in and does the odd building job for me. Somehow we got onto the subject of drugs and he told me that he was horrified when his boys told him that drugs where openly traded at their secondary school. He demanded and interview with the Headmaster and asked him if he knew of it;
'Oh yes' was the answer ' but it is no worse than any other schools.'
That 's not the point my man answered; 'why don't the police do anything about it?
'Because the police are not allowed on the school premises unless they are invited in '
'So why don't you invite them in?'
And so on. Both the police and the headmaster knew of the problem, both had decided to do nothing about it. There is no better advert for private education than that. If that had been the headmaster of a public school the parent would have complained to the governors and he would have been dismissed the next day. Everybody knows that turning a blind eye to petty crime leads on to greater crime and encourages more crime yet here was the headmaster of a major secondary school doing just that. Worse the police where equally uninterested.