The Home Office is a dreadful department, the purpose of which often seems to be to enact as many criminal offences as possible.
But good grief: what a speech today by the Home Secretary Theresa May to the Police Federation.
One almost felt sorry for the police officers listening. The picking of a selection of unrepresentative examples so as to tar the majority is similar to what Grayling is doing with the legal profession.
And it was also possibly unwise: any government needs the goodwill of the police, in the same way it needs the goodwill of those who work in the legal system (and, of course, the goodwill of nurses and teachers, and so on). There is no point the Home Office promoting more criminal justice legislation if the police are unwilling to help make it work.
These things needed to be said, and they needed to be said by a Home Secretary and they needed to be said to this audience.
The accumulation of so many dire examples of misconduct and malpractice can no longer be excused as the famously few bad apples. Even though most police officers do a great and difficult job, there is a problem of confidence, and it needs to be addressed not evaded.
And not only did these things need to be said; there are things which need to be done. Here the Home Secretary’s concrete ultimatums in this respect are as welcome as much as they are astonishing and unexpected.
It is all so strange. Home Secretaries are not ‘supposed’ to make speeches like this; instead they should blather about how we need identity cards and do not need human rights, and so on – so as to please any passing tabloid editorial writers.
They are not expected to say anything, well, serious – or to do anything sensible.
But it seems this one has done. And it was remarkable.
One can only wonder what the consequences will be.