Centralising our police forces would be a terrible idea

Policing needs to be brought closer to our communities, not made more remote

If the British public is to feel any benefit from the recruitment of 20,000 new police officers, then it needs to be clear that an expanded force will focus on public priorities rather than chasing political fashions.

Research commissioned by this newspaper shows that the proportion of crimes being solved has fallen to the lowest level recorded, and that courts are standing idle as police and prosecutors fail to bring cases to trial. At the same time, allegedly overstretched officers are finding time to record thousands of ‘non-crime hate incidents’, of which it seems there is always a plentiful supply on social media….

It is no conspiracy against climate science to say we must adapt to changing weather

Age-old methods of controlling our environment need to be retained

One consequence of climate change is a requirement to adapt in order to survive. If there are to be more floods or fires then people need to mitigate their impact or even prevent their happening. It is not to dispute the existence of climate change to argue that changes in environmental practices can exacerbate the effects it is having on our surroundings.

Yet to point out that dredging rivers or clearing away easily flammable undergrowth will help prevent floods or fires is to invite opprobrium from some as a “global warming denier”. The two approaches are not mutually exclusive.

Since we are told by campaigners that it is…

The Conservative Party has always been the real reforming force in British politics

There is now less than a month to go until our departure from the EU and a new beginning to our history as an independent, self-governing state. A couple of weeks ago I wrote that I was looking forward to seeing the word "Brexit" leaving the world of current political discourse and entering the pages of history, so that Boris Johnson and his colleagues can get on with meeting the challenges of 2020 and beyond.

At its best the Conservative Party has been a party of change, daring to do what self-styled progressives and reformists would never attempt. The great reformer Disraeli was our first Jewish Prime Minister, Thatcher was our first woman Prime Minister and today the Cabinet which will oversee…

Letters: Tackling bureaucratic inefficiency is the first step to reforming the NHS

SIR – I recently received two letters from the NHS in the same post delivery but in separate envelopes. One was to notify me of an outpatient consultant appointment, and the other was to cancel this appointment – with no alternative offered.

This kind of incompetence is endemic throughout the organisation, and there is no point in wasting yet more money on it without a radical overhaul of management staff and practices.

W J Foden
Leamington Spa, Warwickshire

SIR – Let me suggest one way to transform the NHS, based on my experience of the excellent system in France.

Here we make our own appointments with hospital doctors, having been given a letter to convey to them by our GP. We carry our own…

The vegan craze is a self-serving corporate con

While multinational companies make a fortune from meat-free products, livestock farmers are struggling

Spare a thought for our livestock farmers. Just as midwinter is bleakest, when keeping animals alive can be a bare-knuckle fight against the weather, along comes the sanctimonious nonsense of “Veganuary”.

This assault on our livelihoods will have extra menace this year now that we know we are up against not just the usual suspects – Saint Greta, Chris Packham and all those anaemic-looking millennials – but the financial firepower of global agribusiness as well. 

Veganism is the best thing that ever happened to the processed food industry and giants like Nestlé have generated huge margins from…

Kowtowing to Stormzy and Greta Thunberg exposes our elite’s lazy groupthink

Jeremy Corbyn, the wintry and discontented Ghost of Seventies Christmases Past, may have spent the past weeks rattling around the political margins. But the rapper Stormzy, the blingtastic Ghost of Christmas Present, has more than made up for this in a manner most befitting of the mass media age. His viral diatribe against our “one hundred per cent racist” nation flashed on millions of smartphones as households settled into holiday hibernation. Generating almost as much hype was a ghoulish visit from the Ghost of Christmas Future, Greta Thunberg, who lamented mass apathy towards our impending climate doom as a guest editor on BBC Radio 4’s Today programme.

Stormzy and Thunberg are the eerie pin-ups…

Our Armed Forces must adapt to survive this new decade of conflict

From cyber-war to proxy militias, our Services look ill-equipped for the challenges of the 2020s

The national security challenges facing Britain in the coming decade will be very different, and immensely more demanding than those it encountered in the decade we have just left behind.

Compared with the global threats we face today, the entanglements of the past 10 years were, relatively speaking, fairly straightforward, and mainly the legacy of the counter-terrorism campaign launched in the wake of the September 11 attacks in 2001 known as the war on terror.

This meant there were clearly defined foes, whether the Taliban in Afghanistan or Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (Isil), and its…

What are our national parks really for?

Attracting more visitors is a noble aim, but it raises potential conflicts with their mission to preserve our natural heritage

We have the Romantic poets to thank for the Lake District, as we understand it today. Previous generations had not cared much for mountain scenery. In the 19th century, the aesthete John Ruskin, a rhapsodic enthusiast for the Lakes who built a house on Coniston Water, poured scorn on classical authors for failing to appreciate natural grandeur. “As far as I recollect, without a single exception, every Homeric landscape intended to be beautiful is composed of a fountain, a meadow and a shady grove,” he wrote.

In the medieval period, Petrarch was the only writer to view…

A letter to the Eurocrats: Britain’s quarrel is with you, not with Europe

Dear Frans Timmermans,

 

I appreciated what you called your “love letter to Britain”, published in Thursday’s Guardian. Few things are more touching than praise from an astute observer who sees us as we are, knows our faults, and likes us anyway. Thank you.

Let me begin by reciprocating. Like almost all Brits, I love the Dutch. In Tolkienian terms, you are our Nandor – our sundered kindred, those who declined the crossing. We generally feel more at home in the Netherlands than in any other Continental country, even Denmark.

I can assure you that, when we voted to leave the EU, we were not rejecting our ties to our European allies. We have always taken it for granted that we can be Francophiles,…

My Christmas showed me how much smartphones have become our masters

Wandering around any town centre these days is to step into a zombie movie; hollow men and women shuffling along, heads bowed, occasionally knocking into lamp posts or passing dogs. The clue is in their hands.

Around the world, entire cities are being redesigned to protect smartphone users from traffic: flashing lights installed at the edge of German pavements and even, in Beijing, separate pedestrian lanes. To reduce the number of deaths caused by ‘twalking’ (texting while walking), a team at Columbia University has created headphones to warn the listener of imminent collisions. The real danger isn’t incoming traffic, but the deadening effect on our brains. These “Labour-saving devices”, designed…