Friday, 16 December 2016
A Policeman’s Lot
So the way ahead, it seems, is bobbies with bachelors. Policemen with PhDs? Surely, first and foremost coppering needs robust, eager and honest men who can handle themselves in a fight, follow orders and doggedly pursue the wastrels and malcontents who blight our society. For every hi-tech, cybercriminal there are a dozen skunk-addled, sub-technology drop-outs for whom detection is easy and deterrence is physical. I’ve heard of ‘special’ policemen, but isn’t the result of Blair’s education, education, education part of the problem in the first place?
I’m all for workplace professional development and of course we need intellect to compete with the ever more nuanced world – for good or for bad – we live in, but is university the place to find it? After all, every practical workplace on the planet has to spend months if not years kicking the crap out of its graduate entry in order to get a useful day’s work out of them. And in a hands-on job like crime fighting, guile will often win, hands down, regardless of intellectual input.
It’s a thankless task, too; do we honestly think making it also a graduate job will attract ‘better’ people to it? Or is it more likely that with degrees we’ll just get more PC PCs? What would be appropriate courses of study? I’m guessing that apart from a few Old Bill with computing skill and a smattering of law, we can see a new entry into the ‘service’ with ‘expertise’ in sociology, gender studies, human rights, diversity and all manner of new age nonsense, all ready to counsel the criminals and understand why it wasn’t their fault and society is to blame...
Time was, the only degree you needed to get on as a rozzer was the 3rd Degree, in both senses of the phrase. A word in the right ear, roll up your trousers, don the apron and Chief Constable here I come. But the road to high office isn’t always guaranteed and many a pig is happy to plod along as a PC for life; what do they need university-level qualifications for? Surely the basis of all policing has to be a knack for dealing with the general public and a desire to see justice done. Cleverer coppers might end up being mere arm’s length administrators and we've all heard about the very long arm of the law.
Every constable has stories to tell about their own experience in callow youth, learning their trade, experience that does far more to shape their character than books ever will. A recently retired police chief recalls a day from his early years on the job. He’d stopped a motorist who was speeding down the High Street and who had become agitated at being pulled over. Before the young man could explain his haste and his reaction to the stop he found himself handcuffed and bundled into the back of the patrol car.
He tweeted at me in a funny way, your honour...
Back at the nick he pleaded, “But officer,” he began, “I can explain.” His plea was cut short as the holding cell door was slammed shut. “Just be quiet,” snapped the officer, “I'm going to let you cool your heels in there until the Superintendent gets back.” The man tried once more: “But, officer, I just wanted to say...” Again he was interrupted “And I said to keep quiet!”. A few hours later the officer looked in on his prisoner and said, “It’s lucky for you that the Super is at his daughter's wedding. He'll be in a good mood when he gets back.” The young man, considerably calmer now, replied, “Don't count on it,” he smiled, “I'm the groom.”