Monday, 22 February 2010

Police and the Power of Prayer?

There was a rather bizarre and disturbing article in the UK Daily Express today.  Extract:

A SENIOR police officer claims he has slashed the crime rate in his home town – by praying. Inspector Roger Bartlett says the power of prayer has helped catch criminals, boosted crime detection rates and even reduced the number of ­people killed on the roads.  Insp Bartlett, who has 23 years’ experience, is ­“convinced” that faith work has had a positive impact on policing in Barnstaple, Devon.
The 44-year-old Christian arranges prayer meetings where locals are encouraged to pray in a bid to cut crime. He claims his prayers have been answered “on a number of occasions”.
The officer, who is part of the ­leadership team of the local Christian Policing Association, said: “For the past six years or so, I have reported to quarterly meetings of Christians from different churches in Barnstaple who want to pray for local policing issues."
“I have seen a number of specific answers to their prayers like the unprecedented Halloween night in the town when the police did not have to attend a single incident of disorder."
“Also, a prolific serial dwelling ­burglar who, after a significant series of offences, was apprehended in very unusual circumstances within three days of that group praying that he would trip up and be caught.”
This is not just another quirky story.  It is rather disturbing.  Firstly, what possessed the Police to allow this officer to appear in a national newspaper with a story about using supernatural assistance to solve crime?  Second, it is disturbing to know that there are police officers out there who engage in this kind of activity. 

I would be seriously worried if I knew that my local police force were trying to use the power of prayer to catch criminals.  Moreover, what does this say for the impartiality of the Police?  If I were a devout Hindu or Muslim, I would at best be suspicious that this officer would treat me with impartiality, and at worst I would be deeply offended by his behaviour.

If policemen practice their faith in private that is entirely their own business, but this should not be allowed to to become an apparent influence in the discharge of their professional duties.

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