Ground Dog Day

RottweilerThese days our local press (and national news) bombard us with policing platitudes generated by professional police media relations departments. We are fed an almost constant diet of feel good spin about how ‘safe’ we all are. We are told that our community teams are “working tirelessly” to maintain our ‘safety’ and, we are instructed to believe that, because statistics (remember the adage) prove that ”we live in one of the safest places in the Country.”

It is part of a sophisticated media management machine churning out media hype. A collection of stories that are all designed to help you believe you are not experiencing and witnessing the problems you think you are… It actually surprises me how professionally adept the service has become in spinning these intricate webs of deceit. I suppose necessity has always been the mother of invention after all.

Now I live in North Yorkshire and being a relatively rural county, it probably is one of the better places to live. We don’t have major industrial areas (not that many other places do these days but that’s another story), we don’t have any great expanses of run down inner city and, we don’t have a great deal of urban or social decay, at least not worth worrying about unduly. In those respects alone, we probably do have one of the safest areas in the Country.

Yes, we probably have more crime than we should have (doesn’t everywhere), yes we suffer from the usual youth and drink fuelled anti social behaviour (like the rest of the UK) and shock horror, yes we also have our own illicit drugs problem. However, all these issues are in fact predominantly society based and not due to location. The relatively low number of these problems has more to do with the geographic and natural makeup of the area, the people who live in it and the low population density. It has little or nothing to do with the “direct efforts” of some police Safer Neighbourhood Team, as they would have us believe. 

Now to be fair to the local police (and their often limited resources), most of the time they manage to keep a lid on the problems, at least to a fashion. The ‘lid’ is often held on due to a good helping of luck, ably assisted by a reasonable covering sticking plaster of community support officers, street wardens, night marshals etc. Now don’t get me wrong, I have no wish to decry or undermine the valuable work of ‘volunteers’ or indeed the support staff. However by their very nature, they should actually be ancillary to the task at hand, not the sole tool for the job. Rightly or wrongly this is a factor which is often the case today. And, what do the local constabulary do if the lid comes off or looks like it might? They issue reams of press bumpf to suggest “they are working hard with their partners to try to find a solution.”

The thing that always galls me is, the bloody ‘solution’ is right in front of their noses and always has been. Until it was messed around with by successive politicians and senior police officers that is. The ‘solution’ was originally invented in the early to mid 1800’s and it’s called the Peelian Principles. A clearly defined set of rules and guidelines (developed by Sir Robert Peel). Ones that had always stood the test of time and, always earned worldwide respect.

(At this point in the rant story, I had to break off and walk the dog and whilst doing so I had a kind of Groundhog Day moment)

She (the dog) walked along the path at a steady, leisurely but purposeful pace. Whilst enjoying her perambulation in the fresh evening air, she remained alert and observant to her surroundings. When she noticed that something had changed or looked different in any way, she became suspicious and investigated. She maintained her methodical observation of those surroundings and the people currently within them.

When approached by Mrs Miggins (who she knows), she passed the time of day and presented her head for a pat and stroke. The elderly lady wandered off into the evening with a smile, content with the interaction and communication. We continued around the corner to be confronted by a group of rather boisterous lads. One bent forward to stroke the dog whilst shouting at his mate “look a fcuking Rotti”. He quickly retracted his hand and scurried off in the opposite direction when she uttered a low warning growl. One of the other youths then dropped an empty alcopops bottle nearby which smashed on the ground. The dog turned, the hairs on her back ruffled and she barked out at the youths who took flight.

Now I know the dog would not have hurt any of the youths (unless they tried to hurt her or me) but they didn’t. And, the sheer presence and actions of the dog probably influenced the way things subsequently panned out. It felt like some kind of timewarp to past times for a moment and, reminded me of what policing was once all about. We continued home for supper and on route I thought to myself…

This single dog displayed many of the functions and traits that were once common in our police officers. She has a generally empathetic and friendly nature but can command respect or display and use force if required. All in one package, no need for differing breeds for differing tasks.

I wonder if I should get the dog to set police entrance exams and do the interviews?

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