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Wednesday, July 19, 2006

The Village Bobby

The Village Bobby is a poem published this week on the police forum by member Primus356.

He goes on to say:

'Elsewhere in this forum there is section for Community Police Officers and for PCSOs. There is also mention of Neighbourhood Policing. These are government initiatives from "Let's Re-Invent the Wheel & Co Ltd" I don't know whether to laugh or cry.'

Coming from the 'smoke', I don't know much about the village bobby's role, but I reckon it'd be much the same as the big town's good old fashioned home beat officer.

In my short time we've had all manner of different initiatives to try and replace all the local knowledge lost during the heady days of 'Tenure'. When local communities lost thousands of years worth of combined local knowledge in one fell swoop. Mainly due to some shiny arse deciding that if a constable had been at a station for over ten years, he was obviously loafing and needed to be moved to pastures new!

No kidding, the station I worked at during this time was left with no one with any serious local knowledge, we had coppers winkled out of all kinds of departments across town arriving for parade with cork lined top hats, capes, driving coats and all kinds of other weird out of date police uniform and equipment.

It wasn't just uniform that suffered, the department was decimated as well, although I must admit a smirk or two when I found out about a few certain individuals who had been posted back to uniform!

'We thought that in the best interest of your personal career development, you'd benefit from a posting to Stoke Newington.' 'But I've only got 18 months left guv, and I live and work in Croydon.' 'Sorry, are you still here, what did you say.....?'

Home Beats, Sector Teams, Community Teams, Borough Policing, PCSO's........ The list goes on.

One need look no further than The Peelian Principles for guidance.

With all the talk recently about New York Style Policing, I think the below may strike a chord with a few old enough to remember a time when they had a 'named' local police officer.

The Village Bobby

With all this talk of urban crime that blights our city streets,
There's often little mention of more pastoral retreats.
As though our rural hamlets lay untroubled and immune,
With open doors and windows on a sunlit afternoon.

For those of us who live here, it's a far cry from the truth,
We have our own invaders and that element of youth.
Without respect or honour for the worthy and the wise,
Who contemplate retirement with suspicion in their eyes.

So is it any wonder that we dwell upon the past,
When the local village bobby held the situation fast?
He lacked the skills of Poirot or of Doctor Watson's chum,
But the job for which we paid him was appropriately done.

He didn't crave technology to know the good and bad,
The idle rogue, the reprobate, the decent, honest lad.
He'd little need for subterfuge or a large, persuasive stick,
When a hand upon the shoulder was enough to do the trick.

He'd get to know his people and he'd get to know his patch,
More tuned to crime-prevention than the numbers he could catch.
He lived and worked among them without a place to hide,
Oh, yes, he wore the uniform, but they knew the man inside.

He'd get to know the farmers, with his bike against the wall,
Just a cup of tea, a social chat, an amicable call.
But he'd warm the seeds of willingness to tell him what they'd seen,
Of anything that failed to match normality's routine.

It wasn't 'them and us', back then, we all were in the force,
An unappointed back-up squad of limitless resource.
We walked the local bobby's beat in that enlightened day,
Yet, just when he was needed most, we found him whisked away.

No more the wave, no more the smile or meeting-place of hearts,
Just faceless, fleeting panda cars en route to foreign parts.
No more the local ear to bend with matters of concern,
And, in a while, the good-intentioned left the bridge to burn.

And, once that bridge was gone, despite the jargon and the toys,
The public's new perception was of traffic-chasing boys.
Who lacked the old-time wisdom and the time to be a friend,
Now the partnership was over, the alliance at an end.

You'll rarely see a copper, now, a long a country lane,
It's not his fault, he does his best but money rules the game.
And so they buy computer links and fail to understand,
That the finest link they ever had would shake you by the hand.

Now, when the evening shadows fall and problems cause a flap,
You make a phone-call, say your prayers, and hope they've got a map.
And, down the road, they'll pass a house their seniors ought to know,
That's where the local bobby lived, those many years ago.

Written in 1995 by a resident of a Cheshire Home in Cornwall.

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