12 APRIL 1935, Page 17


[To the Editor of THE SPECTATOR.]

Sin,—The Rev. P. M. Gedge in your issue of April 5th challenges me by saying that the analogy between rearma- ment and an increase of the police force would only be -applicable if the police were to use precisely the same methods as the criminal. Our police today do not go about armed, they do not shoot -dangerous men at sight, they do not burgle burglars' houses. In short, as it seems to me, Mr. Gedge misconceives the power and functions of the police. - In Great Britain the police are not normally armed, but in nearly every other country in the world, and in most of our Dominions and Colonies, they are armed or have arms available for use in emergency. In Great Britain, if the power of the police is -insufficient for the maintenance of law and order, the law has authority to call upon military force to strengthen the police as required, and has done so on a, number of occasions within my memory. The unarmed policeman, in fact, repre- sents the power of the State in support,of law. I can recall an occasion in 1911 when soldiers, acting under the personal direction of the Home Secretary and in support of armed police, did shoot dangerous men at sight, and occasions when the police have broken forcibly into private premises acting under proper warrant. Normally the policeman is able without reinforcement to maintain order, but that does not alter the fact that the power of armed force is at the disposal of the law behind the 'policeman for use when required.

One of the main functions of the • police is to act as a deterrent against crime and breaches of the peace. I desire to see international law equipped with the same powers as civil law, and as a first step to that end to see air power so organized internationally as to act as a deterrent to the bombing of cities. I believe that this is feasible and will be effective. Mr. Gedge will not abolish the bombing of cities by saying that it is a crime any more than he will abolish murder by saying that it is a crime.—I am, &c.,

44 Kensington Park Gardens, W. 11. F. MAURICE.