Wagtails thrive in sunshine!

Willie Wagtail
Image via Wikipedia

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?

North Yorkshire Police: Police across Hambleton and Richmondshire have stepped up the fight against all aspects of rural crime with the launch of Operation Wagtail.. (Read more)

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 websiteOp. 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!

3 thoughts on “Wagtails thrive in sunshine!

  1. Dear ‘Lily’

    I am aware that the D&S is a weekly rag so their coverage may often be delayed and, I am also aware that Op. Wagtail has actually been covered in other journals. However, just because it has received coverage in other media outlets, it doesn’t actually mean there is any tangible difference to the end result.

    I also agree that “the public need to be informed about what the police are doing about crime” but his is my point.. The PR rhetoric often fails to match the reality and facts of the situation.

    Any use of the media to promote the actions and work of the police must be based upon fact but for varying reasons, North Yorkshire Police (like many other forces) chooses to be selective with the truth.

    That said, I’m also fully aware that many officers are working harder than ever before to try and provide a service. The problems do not come from those at the delivery end of the service but they are compounded by their managers.

    In addition, I wonder; who should be concerned about the “embarassing content” of my post, me, the officers involved, their management or, North Yorkshire Police as an organisation?


  2. Dear Mr Hasney

    re: your comments regarding Operation Wagtail

    If you actually read newspapers, you would know that Operation Wagtail has been covered extensively in the Yorkshire Post, the Northern Echo, Thirsk and Easingwold papers, local radio and a police trade magazines.

    The D&S is a weekly paper, therefore by its very nature, all ‘news’ contained within it, is in fact, ‘olds’.

    Probably best to do some research before posting embarassing content.

    By the way, the public need to be informed about what the police are doing about crime. The media offers free and very effective conduit for communicating that information.


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