George where are you?

George Dixon
Image via Wikipedia

“Evening all”…

Although fictional and something of a social comfort blanket, the BBC TV series Dixon of Dock Green was (in part) responsible for shaping today’s social perception of policing in the UK.

Yes, there was obviously an element of artistic licence in the writing, coupled with production drive to create a show with entertainment value however, was that image created by the George Dixon character wrong?

Probably not in its day and to a certain extent, many of the traits portrayed are still valid in policing today. That said, George was also probably one of the reasons behind much of the public misconception about the role of today’s typical British Bobby. Policing is so much more today than simply pounding the beat, although the human interaction of that function is still what the public want, but unfortunately rarely see.

For years now the police service has been in a constant state of flux due to the never-ending stream of modernisation initiatives. Some of that change has been good but an awful large amount of it has been mediocre or even poor. The constant drive for modernisation is often based upon old thinking, political knee-jerk reaction or, the fanciful whim of a senior officer trying to get his/her name in lights. This type of ethos has paid its toll on a once proud and (in general) hard-working and caring service.

“We can’t solve problems by using the same kind of thinking we used when we created them.” (Albert Einstein)

As with many of our public sector agencies, such as the NHS, the Fire Service and to a certain extent the military, the service delivery functions of the police are floundering and being stifled under the weight of self-interested managers and political point scoring.

Our continued drive for modernisation, in almost every aspect of our society, often proves to be time wasted. Just because something is new, it doesn’t always mean it’s better and often, an innovation is simply little more than a reinvention of the wheel. That said, inventions can often be improved and updated and, the last thing I could be considered to be is some sort of Luddite or technophobe. I have spent a large proportion of my working life involved with technology issues and I unlike many, see any technological solution as a tool to perform a task, not simply a ‘must have’ because someone else has it. 

However, if we see a need to change something or introduce a new process and/or technological solution to a problem, surely that ‘problem’ needs to be fully and correctly identified prior to implementing any change. Attempting to embed any new system and/or process without fully identifying the reasons and desired outcomes of that action is destined to expensive failure. I have experienced the implementation of a plethora of techno fixes aimed at modernising the policing function. The drawback in general was that usually; they were old fixes, implemented due to even older thought process and operated by cavemen (and women). I suspect this is a major reason behind much of our nation’s public sector financial deficit.  

If only we had the ability to take greater cognisance of our social and industrial history sometimes. When someone, often with good social and economic knowledge and sense says, “it won’t work” or even “It’s been done before and also failed then” why can’t we listen? Much of the policing function is the same today as it has always been and more importantly, it is what our society still cries out for!

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