It’s time to give the police our full support
- Credit: copyright ARCHANT 2017
It's high time we gave our police the credit they deserve, says Nick Conrad.
Our police need our support in these difficult times.
If you see a police officer, go and shake their hand. Tell them you appreciate the work they're doing. This week I'm unashamedly promoting our fantastic police. They run towards trouble as others run away.
Our police officers are starting to receive the appreciation that has been afforded to armed forces personnel of late. The communal gratitude for those doing a job we'd rather not. For those tasked with acting selflessly when most would be forgiven for prioritising their own welfare - we're grateful.
The #westandtogether hashtag has been circulating on various social media sites. Yes, it's a gimmick - but this movement of goodwill must be reassuring for our constabulary and officers. Historically, certain parts of our communities have been blighted by an 'everyone hates the police' mantra, built on the perception of untrustworthy law enforcement and over-zealous policing. Something's changed - even in the most deprived areas, where this feeling has previously prevailed and festered, we're seeing a welcome shift in attitude.
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The police, who I support wholeheartedly, are one of the reasons I feel so proud to be British. Not until you've witnessed the corrupt, undertrained, yet all-powerful police force of some countries that I've travelled to do you realise how good our local police are.
I've listened, for many years, to cyclical arguments - these surface regardless of who holds political power. Various ministers, regardless of their affiliation, have received the 'slow-handclap' from frustrated officers. Sometimes justifiably, sometimes not. I've witnessed a force at a dangerously low ebb – beaten down, with financial and manpower pressures, unsupported, abused and attacked. That's not the force I'm seeing today.
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The recent terrorist atrocities have sharpened the debate around security. Some may attempt to make mileage out of the national grief – stoically, the police plod on. They now represent a welcome consistency in uncertain times. In the past, where the presence of the 'long arm of the law' was unwelcome - now it's valued. At a time when they are needed most the people on the 'Thin Blue Line,' literally keeping us safe, are starting to feel respected and loved.
When they take off their armour and uniforms they go home to your street, to live next door. They are our neighbours and their vocation is noble. At this very moment officers will be coming face to face with a gun, a knife, or angry young drunks.
The danger they face, to ensure our safety, is unparalleled in nearly every other profession. More than 4,000 police officers have been killed in the line of duty since 1792 when the first salaried constables went on duty. More than 250 officers have been fatally shot since 1945.
This doesn't sound like an alarmingly high figure when you consider the period of time in which the data was collated. However, it's the number of officers assaulted each year which is of concern. The Home Office estimates there were 23,000 assaults against officers in 2014/15. It is difficult to pin down an exact figure because of a lack of official statistics.
The enduring image of the One Love Manchester concert was an officer, holding the hands of two children, dancing in a circle. This was more than a jovial reaction to the inspirational music, this spontaneous act was defiant and beautifully unifying and became a symbol of the night prompting tears from many watching. The officer was PC Paul Taylor from Durham Police who said 'I had posed for a picture with these two young girls who were with their mum, and they asked if I'd like to dance.'
What a fantastic moment of uninhibited joy, casting aside the 'done thing' and entering into that wonderful British spirit that has seen us through some of the darkest moments of our history.
It's proof that our country will heal - the metaphorical plaster is not only in that enduring spirit, but also in those professions where others come first.
We used to ask the police officer for the time – now let's give them our time.
If only for a few seconds or minutes; stop, smile and show your appreciation.