Thursday, December 22, 2011

Peter Baird and the nanny school of policing

Is it just me, or do other people also get irritated by the increasing tendency for the police to lecture the public as if we were a class of backward children?

In the Dominion Post this week, Wellington district road policing manager Peter Baird was quoted as saying that police had noticed an increase in the number of drivers with alcohol in their system in the middle of the afternoon – due, presumably, to end-of-year lunchtime celebrations.

While it was clear from the report that no one had actually been charged for exceeding the legal limit, Inspector Baird was still concerned that people were taking a risk by driving after a few drinks. “As soon as you have a drink you are impaired to some level.”

So people are now being warned for staying within the law. This is an intriguing new direction for policing. Can we also now expect to be pulled over and given a warning for driving at 98 kilometres per hour?

Not content that drivers are responsibly staying within the legal alcohol limit determined by the government, Inspector Baird is wagging a finger in their faces and tut-tutting that it’s not good enough.

Does this man not have enough to do? If the people being pulled up and tested by the police are under the limit, there’s an end to it. If anything, he should be congratulating people for drinking responsibly. Lectures on the perils of moderate alcohol consumption should be left to sanctimonious academics and health bureaucrats, of whom there’s no shortage.

In a recent issue of the Wairarapa News, the same Inspector Baird sounded almost disappointed at the low level of drunk drivers (0.44 percent) detected in a weekend blitz - a figure that inconveniently undermined attempts to portray New Zealand as a nation gripped by addiction to liquor. Rather than celebrate this encouraging result, Inspector Baird could only scold his fellow New Zealanders for “making the choice to drink and drive”.

He was at it again in this week’s edition of the same paper. Commenting on the results of the latest police operation (as a result of which only 0.41 percent of the 12,077 drivers tested will face charges), he huffed and puffed that even drivers within the legal limit were more at risk than if they were not drinking. “Every glass affects your impairment in some way.”

Inspector Baird went on to say that New Zealand’s legal blood alcohol limit – 0.8 mg per 100 ml – was much more generous than in most developed countries. “We are not currently in line with the OECD.”

In fact Britain, Canada and the US all have a legal limit of 0.8, and research is inconclusive about the number of lives that would be saved by reducing it to 0.5. (Bear in mind that most serious accidents involving alcohol are caused by drivers who are well over 0.8, and therefore wouldn’t have been avoided even if a lower limit had been in force.)

But that’s hardly the point. New Zealanders elect governments to make laws and the job of police officers is to enforce them, not publicly bemoan their supposed inadequacy. If Inspector Baird wants the law changed, he can stand for Parliament. If he's on a mission to achieve the perfect society, someone should gently explain to him that it's been tried already.

In the meantime, he should spare us the patronising lectures.


The probligo said...

Probably the same reason I treat every driver I meet on the road as having the intelligence of a six year old.

Redbaiter said...

Great post.

These pontificating nanny state head prefects exceed their authority at the same time as they bring real policing into disrepute.

Fire their propagandising socialist arses and hire some real policemen.

(and if this was still a civilised country we would not be putting up road blocks to stop law abiding people going about their business- for any reason.)

Richard McGrath said...

@The Probligo: Are you implying that people who have drunk less than enough to reach the legal breath:alcohol limit for driving, and then drive, have the intelligence of a 6 year old?

Richard McGrath said...

@The Probligo and Redbaiter: How about having the courage of your convictions and putting your respective legal names above your posts?

Redbaiter said...

Oh gawd, here's one of those awful Libertarianz people, wanting to impose their will upon us again.

Get up to speed Dick. This ain't your old time letters to the editor type thing in the NZ Herald or whatever.

This is the 21st century and we're painting our political messages on an electronic brick wall.

Besides, if you really piss the left off in Marxist NZ 2011, its dangerous. You'd find that out if you ever did really cross them.

The probligo said...


Answer to your question - YES!!! I do treat people who have drunk less than enough to reach the legal breath:alcohol limit for driving, and then drive, have the intelligence of a 6 year old.

I even treat other, totally sober, drivers with the same caution.

Oh, and before you start thinking "another nanny driver", two hours Manukau - Whangarei is easy, five hours Auckland - New Plymouth quite do-able.

And if you want my name, you could try emailing me, with a suitable self introduction, and I might consider a response.