Wagtails still pecking at the problems?

North Yorkshire Police
N.Yorks Police

Once again (25th Aug 11) the North Yorkshire Police media machine has slipped into hot air overdrive to tell us that operation Wagtail cracks down on burglars

I can’t imagine I’m the only one who finds this piece a little hard to swallow, irrespective of  the implied ‘actions’ to combat problems. Especially when you consider there has actually been an ” increase in house burglaries across the Hambleton and Richmondshire areas over recent weeks?

Superintendent Amanda Oliver, the Safer Neighbourhood Commander for the area has said:

“From enquiries we believe the recent increase in house burglaries has been committed by thieves travelling into the area. The message to them is simple – we are watching you and when you are caught we will use every tool available to bring you to justice…”  (Supt. Oliver)

I initially mentioned how our Wagtails thrive in sunshine back in April 2011. At that point it appears I may have fuelled the angst of a lady called ‘Lily’ (apparently), she certainly didn’t appear very happy with my viewpoint. In reprimanding me she said;  “Probably best to do some research before posting embarrassing content.”  With that factor in mind, I’ll do my best not to upset anyone this time around; especially those who are undoubtedly putting a great deal of effort into combating the problem.

Let me start by saying, I can’t imagine for one moment that Supt. Oliver has only just realised; “thieves travelling into the area” is a contributory factor to the increased level of house burglary. I wonder if it’s supposed to make the issue easier for us to accept; “yipee, it wasn’t our bad lads, it was some from over the border.” Is that shout from the locals, or anything similar, a real possibility? I doubt it.

As North Yorkshire is such a vast and rural county, surrounded by sprawling urban conurbations in the West, North and South, this factor has always played a major part in the crime figures of the county. Due to that rural topography, and the limited police resources to cover such a large area, crooks from outside have always looked upon North Yorkshire as a prime venue for their activity. Add to that the predominance of some very affluent inhabitants, often with some highly attractive and valuable easy pickings, and you can surely understand the reasoning behind their love of the area… There is often a much slimmer chance of getting caught red-handed and, its certainly not the scenic views they come for!

Extensive research has shown that; crime statistics only ever show part of the full picture, especially when they relate to ‘perceived’ police performance (see here). In addition, the people I refer to above, sit within my admiration, I hold them in high regard and fully support their endeavours.

The Police officers, Specials & PCSO’s who, through no fault of their own, are often also run ragged in their attempts to meet the demands of crime and other issues in the communities they serve. These people who often face unacceptable levels of personal dangers and/or massive impacts upon their health and personal family life are actually working hard to protect us. However, these resources are already working under a pay freeze and massive changes to their working conditions, which are also set to reduce even further as a result of government austerity measures. The problems surrounding over worked and under valued resources are often compounded by inept management of their deployment.

At this point I would add, just in case Lily is connected with Ms Oliver; this post, along with the previous one, is not aimed at her in particular. However, as the general trait amongst many self-interested senior police managers today is for talking up a good story but failing to deliver the goods; if the cap fits, I suggest she wears it.

As Lily pointed out last time around (and I totally agree); “the public need to be informed about what the police are doing about crime.”  But, as I replied to Lily then and repeat now; any use of the media to promote the actions and work of the police must be based upon fact. For varying reasons, North Yorkshire Police (and other forces), choose to be selective with that truth… With true PR mantra and rhetoric, the process often tends towards painting a rosier picture than is the reality, especially if it helps in reinforcing the agenda of ‘reducing the fear of crime‘, that or some perceived worth of a self-promoting Commander.

Perhaps more credence and value could actually be afforded to the subject matter in this media release if for example, there had been some small mention of any tangible results between April and August? The absence of such information, irrespective of the need to keep any overt/covert operational procedures circumspect and close to the corporate chest, would tend to suggest to the contrary.

I may be totally wrong, indeed I would hope so however; if I have caused further ’embarrassment I would again ask the question I asked last time… Who should be concerned about the “embarassing content” of my post? Me, the officers involved in the operation, their management or, North Yorkshire Police as an organisation?

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