The transcripts of the official inquiry into the culture, practices and ethics of the press. More…

Well, if I go back a little before it, to show the difference, in the very early 1990s, there was a scandal at Birmingham Children's Hospital about an excessive number of neonatal deaths because there weren't enough nurses, and the Health Secretary, who at the time was Edwina Currie, had an extremely difficult time on the floor of the House of Commons.

A little while later, the West Midlands Police by accident shot dead a toddler, and in answer to a question in the House of Commons, the then Home Secretary, Mr Whitelaw, said that this was an operational matter for the Chief Constable. This is a very different position than what might be seen now.

The police authorities with which I served in both Thames Valley and Surrey had a view that they left politics at the door, that policing was somehow a different position than a party -- not a subject for party political activity. In fact, the big change to police authorities occurred out of a scandal in Derbyshire in the 1980s, involving the leader of the council, called Bookbinder, and it was quite clear that for political purposes he was starving the police of funds. Her Majesty's Inspectorate of Constabulary appeared and for the first time in the 20th century declared a police force inefficient, and that led to new legislation to put independent members onto police authorities and so on.

So, in my view, the early 1990s, the comment by Mr Blair, and then a very fierce battle began between, in the first incidence, Mr Blair and Mr Howard, on crime as a party political issue, and I think that changed the atmosphere completely.

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