The polls are open today in the UK (not London) to elect Police and Crime Commissioners. This means that, for the first time ever, the public can choose their policing policy.
It is said that very few people will vote, and I think this a great shame. One of the reasons for voting, and an excellent reason for having these elected officials, is about to become apparent.
Every year about 350-400 people are killed on our roads in circumstances where one or more drivers were over the drink driving limit. Given the number of journeys made each year by more than 30 million cars on the road, it is an astonishingly low figure. It is low compared to similar countries. And yet drink driving is an obsession with the British Police. This is for two reasons. One is that the anti-drinking lobby are well connected and have the ear of police forces, and another is its 100% success rate: the police only know about a drink-drive offence if they have detected the alcohol in someone's bloodstream so by definition they have got their man, a 100% detection and conviction rate (barring those 350 who are dead).
At Christmas they go completely mad. The latest figures I have are for 2010-11, but each year is the same or worse. In the month from 1st December to 1st January they stopped and tested 169,838 people - more than 200 an hour - and achieved just 6,613 convictions, which number includes sober people who were outraged by police officiousness and refused to give a test. That is to say more than 163,000 perfectly sober, law abiding citizens were interrupted while going about their lawful private business by these crazed policemen. More than 96% of the people they stopped were perfectly innocent and should not have been stopped. It would have been a disgrace in pre-1990s East Germany and certainly is in supposedly free democratic Britain.
A police and crime commissioner could put a stop to this. Particularly in country areas where there is no public transport and the roads have little traffic on them, it is a crime which ranks fairly low down the list. Burglaries and muggings would have been lower if the police force hadn't been occupied in this useless, politically motivated pastime.