Rockin Dave's Mailing List

Join Rockin Dave's list

Breaking News

Visit The Midnight Rock Music Lounge

Rockin Dave

It's time to visit

Look for this sign on Perimeter

I'm a 'leg' man


Dave Taylor: This Is Boogie Woogie!


Dave Taylor: Still Rockin


Dave Taylor: Shotgun Boogie


Dave Taylor: Cadillacs & Moonlight


Dave Taylor: A Rocker


Dave Taylor: Boogie In The City


Dave Taylor: Hooked on Jive


Dave Taylor: Nordic Dream


Dave Taylor: Time For Rock


Dave Taylor: Before The Dream


Dave Taylor: Midnight Tone


Dave Taylor: Songs From The Other Side


Dave Taylor and The Drapes: Taylor-made for Rock


Dave Taylor: Big Band Boogie & Jive

Angeles Weather

Rockin Time

Angeles City

Emergency services 'do anything to avoid putting themselves at risk'.

Did you happen to assume, by any strange chance, that the purpose of the emergency services was to rescue people in an emergency from the prospect of death or injury? Indeed. So did we all.
Well, more fool us! It turns out that their purpose is to avoid anything that puts themselves at risk - and they've got a health and safety rule book that says so.

The more we learn about how ten-year-old Jordon Lyon drowned in a pool in Wigan while two police support officers at the scene did nothing to save him, the more surreal and preposterous life in Britain appears to have become.

In any normal society, these officers would have been disciplined for failing to carry out what one might have presumed to be the essential duty of a police support officer, namely to protect people from harm - not to mention the basic instinct of any decent human being to try to prevent a tragic accident. But no - their employers, the top brass of the Greater Manchester Police, say they behaved perfectly correctly.
This is because both the police and fire service have instructions not to save people who are drowning.
The reasons pile absurdity upon absurdity.

Ten-year-old Jordan Lyon drowned while two police officers did nothing to save him. Police and fire officers, we are told with the straightest of faces, are not taught to swim or trained to save people from drowning. This apparently means that even if they can swim, they still have to fold their arms and stay put.
So when Sergeant Craig Lippitt, a regular police officer, attempted to rescue Jordon by stripping off and diving in without hesitation, he was actually breaking the rules.

Last March firefighter Tam Brown, who rescued a woman from the River Tay, was informed he could face disciplinary action for doing so. What on earth have we come to in this country, when attempting to save someone's life might be considered a disciplinary offence - in occupations which exist for precisely that purpose? The police and fire service jobsworths say that such rescue attempts might result in the death of the rescuer. True enough; such tragedies do happen.

But if we all followed that reasoning, no one would ever try to save anyone from any danger at all.
And isn't the whole point of paying people to be police and fire officers that they put themselves in risky situations - for which we expect them to be fully trained? But it seems that precisely the same reasoning prevents them from being trained in the first place.

Earlier this year, the Metropolitan Police were fined for breaching health and safety laws after two 14-year-old boys died at a children's event in the swimming pool at the force's training college in Hendon, North London. Up to that point, all police recruits were taught to swim and many were trained in life-saving.
But after that tragedy, the pool was filled in and all such training stopped. And the message then went out to all emergency services: take no chances.

It echoes another case in which, after a police officer fell to his death while chasing a suspect across a roof, the Met was prosecuted under health and safety laws. Although this prosecution failed, the police are now wary of chasing criminals in case they fall foul of the law by hurting themselves.

The compensation culture has thus not only gone stark, staring mad but has turned positively lethal.
Health and safety laws have now become a menace to life and limb. The former Home Secretary David Blunkett, who introduced police support officers, has tried to explain this madness by saying that our society has become averse to taking risks. But that doesn't explain why this has happened.
The answer surely lies in a far broader and deeper transformation of British society that has taken place.
From being perhaps the most independently minded, practical and commonsensical people on earth, we have become a society which is increasingly unable to act at all unless someone gives us permission to do so.

Across the board, our professions have become paralysed by rules, regulations and red tape.
Their ability to use their own judgment has been steadily undermined by rules and codes governing their behaviour which are handed down from above and ruthlessly enforced. The police started down this calamitous road more than two decades ago, after a series of miscarriages of justice and corruption scandals persuaded politicians that police discretion needed to be reduced.

The result was the introduction of laws like the Police and Criminal Evidence Act which were designed to tie the hands of the police. In a similar vein, the government decided to address failures in other public services by imposing upon them laws and codes which greatly reduced their power to act according to their professional judgment. Teachers and doctors thus got so tied up in red tape they were unable to attend properly to pupils or patients. Human rights law further undermined the ability of all in positions of authority - from teachers to park attendants, from care workers to police officers - to enforce discipline, since it made it an offence even to touch a child.

This has resulted in the absurdity of delinquents thumbing their noses at authority while those trying to restrain them are prosecuted. Such law has had an even more profound effect than fuelling the ruinous compensation culture. It has actually changed the default mechanism that governs assumptions about behaviour. This is because it is based on the belief that rules governing behaviour have to be explicitly codified. This happens to run directly against the grain of the English common law, which holds that everything is permitted unless it is specifically prohibited.

This principle is the very basis of our liberty. It has allowed us to make pragmatic decisions which meet situations as they arise - otherwise known as the exercise of common sense. But with the codification of human rights into law, this presumption has gone into reverse.

Increasingly, the only behaviour that is now permitted is what is written down in rules and regulations, laws and codes. At the heart of this obsession with codifying rules of behaviour lies a fundamental loss of trust in people to do the right thing. Instead the state - and, increasingly, the courts - believe that they must tell them how to behave. The problem is that all such codes merely constitute a formula. And because no formula can cover every eventuality, people cannot respond as they ought to in situations that aren't specified in the rule book. Instead, such rules encourage a slavish literalism so that there is no room for individual judgment.

That's why, for example, British Airways made such a fool of itself by trying to force an employee to remove the small cross she wore round her neck - on the grounds that wearing jewellery was against the rules.
The result is the progressive abrogation of responsibility.

Incompetent professionals hide behind the rule book to avoid behaving as they should. Meanwhile, the state gains increasing control over all our lives as it replaces independent judgment by its own view of how people should behave.

The resulting paralysis stretches from the absurdities of politically correct jewellery to tragedies such as the drowning of a ten-year-old boy while authority looks on.

It was not only a child who perished in that pool in Wigan, but common sense itself.


Leave a comment: