Monday, 20 June 2022

Recruting police is

under scrutiny in this state. Apparently three training courses have been delayed because there have not been enough applicants - despite an entry pay scale which appears to be very generous.

I have had very little to do with the police - and hope to keep it that way. Nevertheless I can see they have changed the way they work over the years.

As a kitten I was taught that you trusted the policeman. You went to the policeman if you were in trouble or if you were frightened by something. I would like to think I could do that for children now but I am less sure.

Before I went to school we lived in a very small country town. It was one of those "everyone knows everyone" places. We roamed the entire area on our little Cyclops tricycles. (There were no "two wheelers" for the very young.) The boy across the road from us must have been four. He would line us up, watch for traffic (there was almost none) and get us all across the road to go to the railway station. I used to think he said, "Like the guard" but now realise he was probably, because of his Irish origins, saying "Like the Garda." 

I once mentioned that to an Irishwoman who lives in this district. "Oh yes, the policemen in our town all did that with the children. It helped to teach us about road rules. Of course they could they were out on foot or on bikes for the most part."

My paternal grandparents lived near a police station and we knew the policemen who worked there. Grandpa knew them because he occasionally made or mended uniforms for their seniors and left them there to be collected. 

There were the two London bobbies who interviewed me and another girl the day we went to enter the local post office only to be actually knocked over by the two thieves armed with guns who were leaving at speed. We were probably in no danger at that point but it was a very frightening experience.The police were straightforward and very kind, indeed went as far as to phone the head of the department and let them know what had happened to us. 

There was the policewoman who came to tell the Senior Cat his cousin had died. They could find nobody else at the time and looked for the same surname in his personal phone book. That was okay. She was doing a job she was trained to do, a very difficult job. I would have appreciated it if the male with her had sat down as asked instead of looming over a frail old man who was no threat at all but perhaps they are trained not to sit down in those circumstances.

We were burgled and they came to investigate the damage. Several days later another one phoned. She had recognised the Senior Cat's name because her mother had taught with him. It was a simple, "Is he all right?" I appreciated that and so did he - but I doubt the call would have been made without that.

But apart from that even I, with a clear conscience, wonder what the police are doing if I see them in our local shopping centre. It's usually pretty quiet and I assume they are getting a drink or their lunch. But it is there the problem starts. They are not usually visible. They are rarely on foot. They are isolated in patrol cars. The local police stations have closed and now the police are housed in much larger and more impersonal centres. 

All those things may or may not make a difference. I suspect though that they do make a major difference.

There is also something else I cannot quite put my paw on. It was confirmed by a policeman I once met on a train. He helped me get the trike on board and we were chatting in an otherwise almost empty carriage. He had come from northern England. He had trained there and, much as he liked the lifestyle here, he was going back. 

"It's different here. The training is different. Your lot don't have the same sort of training perhaps. Everyone I talk to is ill at ease even when they have done nothing wrong."

He was saying something I have noticed. If the police are somehow being taught (perhaps unconsciously) to remain at a distance then it is going to be much more difficult to do their job. That isn't going to fill the recruitment intakes. 


No comments: