The police service has become detached from the community it serves

From: Fred Blease, Cascades Way, Bexhill-on-Sea

Friday, 17th September 2021, 7:05 am
Policing has changed over the years

It is surely worrying when retired police officers find it necessary to commit themselves to print to express their disappointments about our police service.

I was married in Bexhill in 1963, and soon after, left the town to pursue my career interests in other parts of the UK, and in Europe. My wife and I returned to the town of our birth in 2020.

When we first left there was a police station staffed for 24 hours daily, from which a number of motorised patrols and foot patrols operated. We return to find a new police station, which because of its very limited hours of opening, seems largely redundant, and I have not seen an officer on foot patrol since I returned.

About 6 months ago I attended this new police station for some advice and information about a problem that I was experiencing. I was met with indifference and an attitude that implied that my attendance was a bit of a nuisance to be endured, rather than helped. I was very disappointed and I left unhappy, but nevertheless hopeful that this encounter was the exception rather than the rule.

As one usually does when these matters occur, I mentioned the response I had received to other people. I was very surprised, and somewhat disappointed, when others began telling me about their own similar encounters, and their own low opinion of the police service provided in our area of East Sussex, a view which I am, rather sadly, beginning to share.

I have not the slightest doubt that the officers on patrol are of high quality, and are trying to do the best that they can. Indeed, I am full of admiration that young men and women still wish to join the police service in today’ society. I am also convinced that those people in command positions are decent and honourable people, but decency does not of itself automatically make for good leadership, and a very poor example of it was the decision to allow 4 uniformed officers to take their place in the recent Pride March. What must they have been thinking of to allow this. Any decent person would understand the problems and difficulties faced by a number of minority groups, and they would want to try and alleviate any of those problems, but Mr Sam Covell is so right when he draws attention to the lack of police presence in the Rye and Camber areas of our county, and how such decisions to join the march would be perceived there.

I understand all the problems that budget restraints bring, and the increasingly complex legislation, and the constant demand from varying pressure groups etc, but we seem to have reached a situation whereby our police are only providing a reactive service, and have moved away from contact with the people that they have chosen to serve. This is absolute folly. The duty of policing falls upon us all, not just on a paid police force, and together with regular contact, exchange of information and ideas, society, as a whole, will provide the service that is needed. I am saddened to have become aware that many of the people I regularly come into contact with, have very little faith in their local police service, and the more that police officers are allowed to isolate themselves from us, the more our affection and support for them will be lost.

The letters from two retired police officers, highlighting the problems, should set the alarm bells ringing in the portals of police headquarters. It would be very sad if they do not.

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