Denise Robertson: Turn fire on those who make mistakes, not who points

Theresa May’s address to the Police Federation did not go down well with PC Ken Davies from Cheshire Police Federation

Oli Scarff/PA Wire Home Secretary Theresa May
Home Secretary Theresa May

I admit to a swift intake of breath as I listened to Theresa May’s address to the Police Federation.

It was not so much the words as the ferocity of her delivery, so I understood the reaction of PC Ken Davies.

In his 21-year career, he said, he had faced all sorts of trauma, but he had never experienced a kicking such as that the Home Secretary had just administered.

There was righteous indignation in his voice, amazement that, when he had worked so hard and given so much, he should now be tongue-lashed.

It reminded me of a letter I received after I had spoken on television and in this column about my fears over forced adoption.

At the moment I receive about eight emails a week alleging just that. This letter came from the husband of a social worker who, he maintained, worked her fingers to the bone in the field of child protection.

Critics of social workers had “crawled out of the woodwork” and should not be allowed to speak, he claimed.

Like PC Davies, he was wounded and he gave vent. I ignore letters written with a pen dipped in vitriol. They tell you more about the writer than their subject.

This letter was not vitriolic, it was angry. But in both cases their indignation was directed at the wrong people. PC Davies should have turned his guns not on Mrs May but on the misdeeds which gave her opportunity to speak as she did.

We all know them, Hillsborough, Tomlinson, Plebgate . . .the list goes on and masks the fact that, in recent times, police officers have laid down their lives in our defence.

In the field of social work, failures exist and must be exposed. (Read A Mother’s Nightmare, the story of three children taken away for over a year because of “unexplained injury” to one of them. It turned out the child had cancer). Cases like that direct attention away from a huge amount of good social work. But fire should be turned on the people who made the mistakes, not those who point out the errors.

If PC Davies and that angry husband are arguing that the good done by the many means that society should turn a blind eye to the failures of the few that is a dangerous doctrine.

Some 99% of parents are loving and caring. Does that mean we should ignore the cruel few? Does the professionalism of most police mean the rogue cop should go unpunished? It is up to the professions to deal with offenders within their midst, not pretend they do not exist.

If they don’t, then columnists, and sometimes Home Secretaries, will continue to complain.

In the week that David Cameron paid tribute to Britain’s D-Day veterans . . . “Seventy years on we look back on that day with awe, with pride, and with gratitude . . . 73-year-old Des Wilson, once President of the Liberal Party and founder of Shelter, warns of ‘generational warfare’.

He quotes some of the hate mail in social media aimed at the elderly but reserves his venom for a former Liberal colleague.

“Then I read a much more alarming statement: ‘Someone needs to fight the selfish, short-sighted old… they are the past, not the future.’ You may ask, why worry about this particular quote more than those from the other semi-psychopaths quoted?

The answer is that this was not a cyberspace rant. This was written in The Guardian newspaper, by a man who until recently was a senior Cabinet minister in the Coalition, namely Chris Huhne. (He is, admittedly, now a convicted criminal, but nevertheless for some reason is being allowed to rehabilitate himself in that newspaper.)”

As Wilson points out, an incitement to fight black people would have led to prosecution.

A similar attack on women or gay people would have brought a torrent of condemnation. As it is, there has been hardly any comment, but Wilson has a message for Huhne.

“I am one of those 11 million who have to be fought. I am one of the past. But unfortunately for him and those like him, there is a small problem: I and most of the 11 million are very much still the present and have no intention of being buried alive.”

At that D Day ceremony, aboard HMS Belfast, Mr Cameron said: “I will teach my children that the freedoms we enjoy weren’t just handed down, they were hard won.

“I will teach them that their generation and my generation owe your generation so much. On behalf of the British people, 70 years ago you did your country proud and your country will always, always be immensely proud of you.”

Unless, of course, you belong to the 11 million Mr Huhne sees as having grown old and selfish and short-sighted. For you the tumbrils are already rolling. (Growing Old-The Last Campaign by Des Wilson to be published on June 12).

Communities which will be affected by fracking are to be offered an £800,000 sweetener. Surely, what they really want is unbiased information about the fracking process.

At the moment all we have is the promise of a Golden Age from the fracking lobby and the threat of Armageddon from the anti-frackers. Sweet as £800,000 might be, I’d rather have the facts.


David Whetstone
Culture Editor
Graeme Whitfield
Business Editor
Mark Douglas
Newcastle United Editor
Stuart Rayner
Sports Writer