Wednesday, 4 June 2008
"Ask a policeman on the street, there's so many there to meet"
Can you remember George Harrison singing, "Ask a policeman on the street, there's so many there to meet," in the Beatle's song Blue Jay Way? Well that was a long time ago I suppose; nineteen sixty-seven. I wonder if George would be able to sing that line today? Nowadays, in Britain, you'd be hard pressed to find a policeman on the beat; so that particular lyric might prove anachronistic and somewhat redundant.
Policemen on the street are as rare as rocking horse manure. Walk through continental streets and towns and you will see all manner of police, be they local, municipal, state, federal. These various police departments have a presence, and whatever you may say they certainly provide public reassurance. And it is this essential reassurance that seems to be missing on British streets today.
The ever common remark now is, "When I want to find proper policemen on the street all I find these days are CSOs". Just what are CSOs? Sorry, well if you haven't been around for a while they might be something new to you. CSOs (or Community Support Officers to give them their more pithy designation) are Blair and Blunkett's brainchild for more police on the streets. But these CSOs are not quite police. They are more like security guards that are 'police-wannabes' but haven't quite got the crop of GSCEs required for entry.
Described in various parts of the press as 'boil-in-the-bag-coppers' or 'traffic wardens without clout' they court derision and do not have the necessary public respect that genuine police officers have. And, quite obviously, without that respect it just does not work! I feel quite sorry for them actually; they are in an invidious position. But hey, 'British Brown' and chums don't care because with CSOs at sixteen grand a year, it's like buy two coppers get one free; every little helps! While this administration wastes millions of pounds on quangos and lunatic think-tanks, they penny-pinch with our police and our sense of security. People want real police officers; they don't want pantomime characters marauding around instead of the genuine articles.
If you don't believe me, surely you might believe the Old Bill's Union. "The government's experiment with CSOs has clearly failed," stated a Police Federation spokesman continuing "The public want to see police officers, not imitations, on our streets." He revealed that a poll commissioned by the federation showed seven out of every ten people wanted CSOs replaced by real police. "The general feeling," he concluded, "is that constables starting on £21,000 a year are far better value than the £16,000 p.a. spent on the CSOs."
Committee chairman Julie Nesbit, added: "These findings clearly demonstrate that the public feel safer with police officers patrolling our streets and not civilian staff. [We] warned the Government when CSOs were introduced that trying to police on the cheap was short-sighted." With all the terrible news coming from Britain's streets on a now daily basis, that is hardly surprising is it?
Posted by Rhisiart at 00:29