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Charles Bannerman: Policing must get back to basics for all our sakes

By Charles Bannerman

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Police on the beat on Inverness High Street - but are they always there when you need them?
Police on the beat on Inverness High Street - but are they always there when you need them?

If you’re less than late middle aged, the phrase ‘evening all’ probably means nothing to you, but for two decades from the mid-1950s, the police drama Dixon of Dock Green, where Jack Warner latterly played the eponymous local copper at the age of 80, was a huge TV hit.

This was a tale of local policing at its accessible best where residents of the Dock Green manor had quick and easy access to the local force at their local “nick”.

I was reminded of these halcyon days of coppering on arriving at Inverness’s Burnett Road police station early one weekday evening to seek help over boy racers... and found it shut.

When I couldn’t raise anyone on 101 either, I even made an equally futile trip to the Inshes HQ. The Burnett Road nick was also shut the following morning, so it eventually took 16 hours to make direct contact with the constabulary in this city of 60,000 people.

I suppose I could have tried to report the problem on the Police Scotland website, but the first barrier you must negotiate there is a virtue-signalling list of seven offences, all oozing political correctness. Four of these are different types of hate crime so, for fear of being arrested for causing distress and offence to boy racers, I desisted.

Assault, car theft, burglary, knives, firearms etc? Try the catch-all category that says other, right at the bottom.

That creates a disturbing perception of Police Scotland’s priorities, so is it any wonder that people call 999 for things that simply aren’t emergencies?

With further cuts expected, there’s also concern that the 101 non-emergency phone line may be under threat. Well done if you can get an answer there, and if you do, that brainchild of centralised government thinking which is Police Scotland will probably connect you to a call centre in an industrial estate near Edinburgh. Explaining that your incident is on Lochalsh Road between Fairfield Road and Telford Street could therefore be quite challenging, whereas local cops would know instantly.

The political correctness that seems to prioritise hate crime over the mugging of old ladies and armed robbery is becoming all-pervasive in British policing. A litany of such behaviour includes a senior male Metropolitan Police officer’s much ridiculed sending of virtue signals by wearing a heated “menopause vest”. As murderers and terrorists ran riot, this chap didn’t just need to empathise with hot flushes, he needed people to see him doing so.

Scottish taxpayers expect an adequately staffed, visible police service, prioritised above much of the trivia and vote-winning gimmicks which have constantly attracted far too much public funding. They also want a police force focused on tackling crime and public disorder, not a fixation with jumping on and off various woke bandwagons.

I also believe that, especially in remote areas, people want policing that’s run and controlled locally rather than by a centralised agenda, and a realistic means of making contact. Some anonymous “we are experiencing a high volume of calls, but your call is important to us” operation run from some anonymous central belt industrial estate, perhaps over 200 miles away, simply won’t do.

And that’s just policing. As time goes by, I find various public services forming an increasingly lengthy queue for discussion in this column.

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