Today’s Darlington & Stockton Times featured a half page spread about North Yorkshire Police (NYP) and their Operation Wagtail… Yet another ‘initiative’ designed to help us all feel better about the service we get from our police force.
A great idea that will reap some tangible results for a change or, simply more PR hype and media manipulation to blow another draft of warm sunshine up the backsides of the long-suffering community?
This is the latest chapter in the subject of police public relations, a topic which I’ve commented upon extensively in the past (see here). According to the NYP website, Op. Wagtail was launched in March 2011 and involves; “officers undertaking proactive patrols across the district to prevent people living and working in the area becoming victims of crime.”
It seems strange that more than two weeks after the original press release, there appears to have been little media interest in the ‘news’ until now? To be fair; the matters of control room closures, proposed changes to police leadership, the reduction of service due to police cuts, along with the games involved in crime statistics, must have had impact upon the availability of editorial space.
Either that or perhaps like many of us, the media don’t actually think the rhetoric of yet another policing ‘initiative’ is actually news worthy? More worrying than this is the fact that, from speaking with various members of the force, both police officers and police staff, most of them also had no idea what Operation Wagtail was, let alone what it was supposed to achieve? All indications that the subject matter is just more PR hype perhaps, as opposed to any realistic and worthwhile action?
Now I have no wish to undermine the difficult (sometimes dangerous) conditions that many police officers are operating under, simply trying to provide a service and make our communities safe for us. However, like those officers on the ground, I’m getting a little sick and tired of their leadership continually talking up a good story. A factor often born out of self-interested career aspirations yet consistently, one that usually results in officers on the ground finding it more difficult (and more dangerous) to deliver the service we all require.
It is my suspicion that, given the likely actual availability of officer numbers in the areas concerned, it would be difficult (if not impossible) to actually deliver the much hailed intentions of the senior officers. It is also likely that any increase in officer availability would require depletion of resources from other areas. You have to remember that, very little proactive policing actually takes place these days, there are barely enough officers to meet the reactive demands of the public.
Although I suppose we can feel secure in the fact; the Chief Constable Grahame Maxwell has promised us all that he can do more with less!