15 September 2011

This week’s anniversary of aerial combat in 1940 over London and southern England, marking what Churchill had termed as the Battle of Britain, provides an interesting coincidence for the declaration by the new Metropolitan Police Commissioner that his force will wage “total war” against crime, and that crime fighting will be a priority for the Met.  Perhaps this reflects a refocus on the terms of the constable’s oath which is …”to cause the peace to be kept and preserved and prevent all offences against people and property”.   Is the police commitment to maintaining the peace during recent unrest now seen as improper?

The constable’s oath in England is interesting in that officers swear to serve “with fairness, integrity, diligence and impartiality, upholding fundamental human rights and according equal respect to all people”.  A New Zealand constable commits to performing “to the best of my skill and knowledge”, while a Scottish constable’s oath is to “faithfully discharge” duties.  An interesting conjecture is whether the different expressions involve a different obligation, or just that the Scots are less wordy?

A crime fight  of a different kind featured in Chinese newspapers yesterday. Police have closed a network across 14 provinces that has been returning “swill oil” to the food chain.  Swill oil, old cooking oil gathered from drains and intended for recycling as bio fuel, has been refined by a bioenergy company and sold back to restaurants. Apparently hard to distinguish from the original product, more than 100 tons, falsely rebanded, has been seized by police.

Chinese authorities are sensitive to the adulteration of food following widespread chemical “fixing” of pork meat and the melamine contamination of infant formula. A China Daily editorial has criticised the availability of swill oil calling for heavy penalties to prevent waste being reused as food. But it recognises as long as there is a market there will be an “incentive to sell the recycled swill to restaurants”.