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We need to support our police, not fight them

PUBLISHED: 07:54 27 April 2018 | UPDATED: 07:54 27 April 2018

Norfolk Police are facing a growing number of physical and verbal attacks.

Norfolk Police are facing a growing number of physical and verbal attacks.

Archant

It’s easy to sneer at authority, especially the police. But these hard-working officers deserve our full support, says Steven Downes.

I don’t remember seeing my Dad getting angry more than a handful of times during my life (if only he’d passed his temperament to me).

One occasion sticks in my memory, though.

It came when he was driving a couple of my friends and I somewhere (probably to a football match or Scouts) and one of my friends called the police “pigs”.

Dad was furious and told him that he was in danger of having to walk.

His anger was rooted in being the son of a long-serving Norwich policeman, who was known as Gentleman Jim and was well respected.

He has a strong belief in respect for authority: police, doctors, firefighters, even teachers.

I’m the same – as my poor children found to their cost if they ever came home and complained about a teacher “picking on” them.

My response was: “Teachers don’t pick on well-behaved children, so have a go at keeping in line. If you’re still picked on, I’ll sort it out.”

It was an echo of my Dad and Mum. I hope the echo continues through my children and grandchildren when they are parents.

It will be harder for them, though. For it is clear to see that the basic tenet of respecting authority is as eroded as the cliffs at Happisburgh.

In a 12-month period, there were 515 assaults on Norfolk police officers. Alongside this awful statistic are probably hundreds of thousands of examples of verbal abuse.

Their offence is to be doing a job that protects the public from crime, so why on Earth would you want to attack or abuse them?

I know why, and it comes down to disrespect that is being passed down the generations like a new genetic defect - evolution in reverse.

We are not progressing, we are regressing.

Witness the sneering parents with their resting expression set to snarl and their mouths programmed to profanity.

Listen to them talking about their children’s teachers, the police, traffic wardens, the council - anybody in authority.

The default is disrespect, seasoned with foul language and an almost visceral hatred.

Their attitudes permeate the souls of their children with a certainty that can only increase down the generations.

These living gargoyles will have got their dark hearts and darker views from their parents. That’s the badge of honour that they can wear: I raised my children to be loathsome and lawless.

To ensure that there is no room for error, the parents will occasionally storm into school to confront and intimidate their youngster’s teacher.

But the summit of their toxicity comes with the attacks on the police.

There they are, patrolling Norwich’s clubland to ensure drunken and feral men and women don’t kill each other. Their reward is often abuse and sometimes violence.

The scenario repeats itself in countless public order situations.

I like to look on the bright side about the future, but I’m not sure how we can break the chain of generational disrespect.

The police assault figures show that we must, though - unless we’d prefer a Wild West approach to law-enforcement.

Police officers are not the enemy. They are not pigs, filth or scum: they are a key reason why we live in a largely safe nation.

The only people who would benefit from a police-free state are criminals, and it wouldn’t take long for the spiralling lawlessness to be too much even for them.

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