24 Aug 2007

Evening All... PC Dixon reporting for duty!

A NORTH-EAST chief constable yesterday (230807) introduced "the Dixons of Dock Green for the 21st Century" as he unveiled plans to put hundreds of officers onto neighbourhood beats. Cleveland Police are to ‘flood local communities’ with officers in the hope of driving down crime and restoring public confidence in policing. At the launch (see BBC Video Report), Chief Constable Sean Price likened the idea to the classic BBC television series. He went on to say the ‘traditional style of policing is now back, with nearly 600 police and community support officers dedicated to community beats across Teesside’. The initiative apparently is part of a scheme whereby the Cleveland force will sign up to the One North East Regional Image campaign.

Alf says: Here we go again with the 'reinvention of the wheel'? When I joined, policing was all about providing a service to the community and the neighbourhood; it’s only since the government started with their target driven performance culture, that we were forced into loosing sight of that. Anyways, they reckon that ‘image is everything’ don’t they? What would I know after twenty odd years? It must be nice though to have almost half our actual force establishment dedicated to the task of Neighbourhood Policing, in a force area smaller than any one of our divisions! (I know it should be BCU or ACU but I can’t get used to this new terminology)

BBC: Force plans street patrols boost Hundreds more officers are to be assigned to community policing duties across Teesside. Mr Price said: "I have carried out extensive consultation and the public and their representatives have made it very clear that they want a more visible, community-based police service”.

Alf Says: And I wonder just how much public money and police resources were actually expended on finding that out? Could have gone into any police station and asked any bobby that! You know, the ones who are chained to a desk filling out mountains of paperwork or submitting the latest target returns for some ‘special operation’. The one, that for all intents and purposes, is just a normal policing function except it has a fancy bloody title.

In November 2004 the BBC reported: “It is rare to hear a government minister interviewed these days without the words 'record numbers of police' popping up somewhere”. The report went on to highlight that; the majority of political comment in this vein is often just spin and rhetoric.

Alf Says: Three years down the line and the ACPO officers now appear to have attended the same ‘media sound bite course’ and, I for one don’t feel able to think any differently. Far too often it’s all about individuals in high places, attempting to get recognised as ‘suitable’ to lead a bigger force, or the next half baked government policing initiative (with a bigger salary)!

Dixon History: Beginning in 1955 and finally ending in 1976, Dixon of Dock Green was the longest running police series on British television and although its homeliness would later become a benchmark to measure the "realism" of later police series, such as Z Cars and The Bill, it was an enormously popular series.

Alf Says: As there is only one place in the UK called Dock Green (to my knowledge), in the town of Crewkerne (Somerset), perhaps we should take on their vision for Neighbourhood Policing by watching the Avon & Somerset 'Stronger Neighbourhoods' video. After all, it can clearly be seen from their figures that, Crewkerne is a hotbed of urban deprivation and crime. They’ve actually had 209 so far this financial year however, the hard work and determination of their NPT has significantly reduced this figure in the last year by 37… There’s successful target driven performance for you!
Alf also says: I note from the Northern Echo article that, to my knowledge, at least three of the Cleveland NPT Managers are transferees from the North Riding. I suppose it’s refreshing to see that ‘we’ have helped Cleveland put the old fashioned values back into policing. Just a pity our area establishment and structure can only afford this luxury at the expense of 24/7 response policing.

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