RECENTLY in the road where I live in Morecambe, on the Lancashire coast, a car crashed into the front of a house during the night. The house was in danger of collapsing and had to be reinforced with emergency scaffolding.
Our road was sealed off at both ends for one working day. At the pedestrian access nearest our home, at the other end of the road from the damaged house, I witnessed the manner of two police officers towards members of the public as they tried to walk through the necessary residents’ gap in the police tape.
At no point did I witness either of the officers explaining why the road they were trying to walk along had been sealed off. Both were, I am sad to say, surly and abrupt.
I have to confess that I went out several times afterwards to observe whether the behaviour was characteristic. I suppose there are some advantages in being a retired vicar cum freelance journalist when it comes to being an amateur sleuth.
‘Oi, where are you going, love?’ was a remark I heard from one of the officers. ‘You can’t go up there, we’ve sealed it off’ was the general patter of his colleague. Householders were forced to tell them, ‘But I live up there’, an explanation they appeared to accept with ill grace.
I emailed the Conservative Police and Crime Commissioner for Lancashire, Andrew Snowden, suggesting that he might bring to the attention of the Chief Constable the urgent need for training in courtesy for police officers.
Surely there are better ways of dealing with the public which would not compromise a crime scene but are more in line with the Peelite principle of policing by consent?
How could it be seriously claimed that courtesy has anything to do with resourcing or police numbers or the alleged lack of them? Surely this is about how individual police officers choose to behave towards the public they are paid to serve?
The culture of virulent political correctness in the British police force and the courtesy that generally obtained in the broadly Christian country we once were seem to be mutually exclusive. I am not claiming that a training course in courtesy can deal with the fundamental moral problems in British policing that are sadly coming to light. But I did suggest to Mr Snowden that it might be a small step in the right direction.
I received an automated response saying that I should receive a reply within 20 working days. I await it with interest.