As someone who was brought up in a United Kingdom where every week the idealised policeman was a regular fixture on our televisions with his friendly salute and salutation of “Evening All” I cannot help thinking that far too many still hold the same nostalgic view of modern day policing.
The reality of course is that good old “George Dixon of Dixon of Dock Green” that mythical “Bobby on the beat” patrolling on his – or her – bicycle, catching criminals who meekly surrender with a “it’s a fair cop guv” are not only a thing of the past but in reality never existed.
It is the prevailing image of the policeman in a city as espoused by all of those who insist that the answer to the rising crime rate is to have more police on the beat.
It is an image that is an even more entrenched when rural policing comes to mind – usually it has to be said reinforced by English television police programmes set in the pre – 1930’s era.
The Agatha Christie syndrome dreaming of a more tranquil and safer time – complete with murders of course just to liven up proceedings.
An image that is immediately destroyed when we hear senior police officers talking about how they are considering routinely arming rural police officers.
As someone who lived in a military town where it was common to see armed Ministry of Defence Police I have become used to not only seeing but the idea of heavily armed police dealing or preparing to deal with terrorist attacks or operating against armed criminals.
Of course there is a place in today’s world for specialist counter-terrorist police officers but how would people feel to see every, or even a significant number of police officers in our towns, villages and rural areas permanently carrying a gun?
The argument is that seeing armed patrols would provide the public with reassurance, the converse argument being that it would simply increase the public perception that the world is an increasingly dangerous place.
On the more positive side of course is the knowledge that the majority of police officers are not in favour of the nations police forces routinely being armed.
However there are moves in the United Kingdom to train more police officers to carry guns which doesn’t necessarily mean that we will have an armed police force any time soon but it would make it easier to bring about should the Government decide that is the future.
It may well be that it may come about but I for one, and I’m sure I’m not the only one would not be comfortable with the idea of a permanently armed police force.